Like a perfect soft-boiled egg---marigold orange--nestled in a hand carved wooden egg cup, Goldegg, the village, is tucked into a crease of the Austrian Alps, just south of Salzburg. You couldn’t dream up a more charming location for a healthful and relaxing vacation. Easy enough to reach by car, my husband and I chose to train it; and as our railcar rattled past brimming sunflower fields and through dark mountain tunnels, escorted on our right by the turquoise Salzach River, we snaked our way to the town of Schwartzach where we disembarked with only a smattering of others, all natives save ourselves.
A wink of a taxi ride up the steep slope of a mountain delivered us to the Hotel zur Post where we were to spend the next 5 days. Perched beside a small lake overseen by the local church and castle, Goldegg could be described as a hamlet. The single street that parts the quarter mile span of downtown is dotted with several guest houses, one bank, one tiny general store and a school. A little further along, dotting the hillside, is what appears to be the newer section of town. Neatly timbered homes, one more inviting than the next, all have balconies adorned with window boxes brimming over with the pinks, reds and purples of geraniums, carnations and other local flora. The eaves, shutters and balconies of these cuckoo clock houses are all gracefully carved with intricate patterns that recall a gingerbread past. Four times every hour, the church bell punctuates the verdant stillness so that there’s no need to even wear a wristwatch.
The air is filled with the perfume of backyard vegetation and pine that floats down from the surrounding forests. Between quarter hourly peals, the scratching of crickets and the lilt of birds entwine with the occasional bark of a dog or children chattering in the distance. This idyllic soundtrack is only rarely bolstered by the sound of a passing automobile. A bicycle bell and the whir of its tires are more common. You can walk down the street at most times of the day or night and encounter neither car nor neighbor in this deserted dell.
How I found the idyllic inn where we stayed, I’m not quite certain. But if I were to have conjured it myself, I couldn’t have come up with a more delectable creation.The Family Gesinger, who owns and runs the establishment, were warm and accommodating. From grandfather down through kleine kinder (young children), the entire family pitched in to make our stay a delight.
Every morning, a tempting spread awaited: local organic apple juice; fresh yogurt, milk, cereal, granola and eggs; numerous local artisanal cheeses; and an assortment of smoked meats, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers. There are also hearty fresh baked breads and cakes to complement your coffee, tea or cocoa. The cherry tree in the yard makes frequent appearances in the compote, the cherry kuchen, the jams and the garnishes that accompany the six-course evening meal. Yes, that’s right...six courses--of gourmet cuisine! Different every night so that in five days there were never any repeats. I kept thinking, “If only, I could find something that doesn’t sound or taste delicious...I could skip a course....” But no such luck. In fact, with two choices in each category---appetizer, soup, salad, entree, dessert and cheese plate--my husband and I always picked a different one and shared so we could try everything. Nothing disappointed.
The salad bar boasted fresh local greens--many I’d never heard of or tasted before. Talk about heirloom! The lettuces are accompanied by a variety of other salads--potato...beet...fennel...bean, just for example--and the main courses range from venison to lake perch, duck, beef and always a vegetarian entree of choice. The desserts--if you have any room for them--are amazing; and a full array of cheeses are offered to accompany your schnapps of choice.
Even skipping lunch, we found ourselves incredibly sated after each meal and this proved the impetus for our daily hikes and swims along an abundance of well marked trails that took us into the hills, down the mountain into valleys, through the local golf course and of course around and into the lake. The cool forests just sang with their musky scents and the vast meadows and fields teemed with wildflowers which no doubt provide the local cows, sheep and goats with the nutrition that is returned to us vis-a-vis their delicious milk, cream and cheeses.