Updated: Apr 27, 2021
9 Feb. A three hour drive sees my arrival at checkpoint Geneva. Surprisingly, border police wave me through without so much as a temperature check. I continue without a break for a further 30 minutes, chasing the invisible frontier around Geneva before nearly colliding into a deer on the outskirts of a small community near to Cern.
Collex-Bossy is a small commune that sits in the countryside near the lakeside city. Greeting my arrival ...the aroma of coffee and cacao tempt me toward the town's 'chocolatier extraordinaire'.
I wait my turn behind a discerning customer intent on purchasing a mix of curious donut shaped truffles,
it quickly dawns, I'm the only one in the shop wearing a mask,
"are you mad or perhaps you’re allergic to the smell of cacao!"
"Pardon! We‘re in the middle of a pandamic!"
I remove the unsocial mouth covering and attempt to understand her reaction. She listens with one ear to my apparent gibberish while her hands prepare a selection of the finest chocolates.
"Here, try one!"
Unable to speak except,
I give up on any further dialogue leaving the sweet entrepreneur adamant that I'm delusional.
"...Well you didn't ask so I've chosen for you ...these will bring you back to earth!"
Handing me a beautifully packaged chocolate box we part company and disappear into our respective universe.
Denying the pandemic is one way of dealing with it, but it is very odd that there’s no sign of anybody wearing a mask across the entire village!
10 Feb. I continue on, through the back door, into Austria with hopes alive that our shortlisted locations achieve another result.
With the sat nav indicating a two hour drive, I set about confirming the night's reservation at an intended retreat near Innsbruck just as a storm front chooses the moment to engulf my mobile home with snow. A case of bad timing would be understating the sentiment. The open road vanishes beneath a thick white blanket and the navigation irritatingly repeats 'proceed to the route'. An hour of shovel and skuffle ultimately sees the two wheel drive vehicle, with its solitary occupant inside, crawl into the southern Bavarian village of Wertach ...in search of a loo and a room to bed down. An apparently picturesque town in the Oberallgäu district, today completely obscured from sight, To add to the entertainment, I've unknowingly crossed an unmarked border into Germany ...where of course the hotels are closed and visitors from outside are theoretically banned.
Walking into the only light in town, a beer cavern where the owners are serving the local brew to their patrons, I politely ask in Queen's English if I can use their loo?” They reply vehemently and in no uncertain terms, “NEIN!” before abruptly showing me the exit. Outside the temperature registers a bitter minus 14. In desperation, I approach a solitary character standing alongside the only possibility of sanctuary, a closed up Tyrollean hotel,
“Is there anywhere I can bed for the night pal?”
I try speaking in broken French but the glazed eyed gent continues to look at me completely schtum. I point toward the hotel,
“How about zis?”
“Ah ...ich hausmeister!”
“You’re the caretaker?”
He takes me through the back door of the lodging and surreptitiously checks me in. I notice the row of ski boots along the corridor, realising this is their way of sustaining business during the pandemic. The kindly soul then sets about preparing scrambled eggs, bacon and beers for the both of us. Nice room, no hot water, no heating, but still ...an unexpected oasis of hospitality.
The morning after the night before!
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