Special Dispatch: The Penz, Innsbruck
Adolf Pichler Platz 3
+43 05 12 57 56 57
by Des Ayuno
The fön was in town, and so was I. The fön, a clammy, warm spring wind, is never far from the conversation of Austrians. It is said to send locals slightly mad – mood swings, sudden outbursts of anger or tears of frustration – an ideal time, then, for a business trip.
I rose early to fortify myself for the day ahead. A nervy woman in the glass-encased lift held her hand theatrically to her breast and sighed, “Aah, die Panorama!” as we ascended to the twelfth floor. The snowy Alps seemed metres away. I turned to the breakfast room, where full-height glass windows framed the peaks to even more dramatic effect, and whispered, “Aah, die Frühstück…” Monstrous platters of grapefruit, pineapple and strawberry squared up to the sorts of knobbly, prickly or hairy neon exotica normally seen in pictures of Vietnamese market stalls. I stopped at plate 35, not because I’d lost count but because the nervy woman was staring. The Continental contingent was as bountiful – no less than 11 kinds of breads jostled for space with perhaps 20 platters of sliced meats and cheeses, smoked fish, jams and jellies, butters and margarines, mustards, yoghurts, compotes, baskets of small pastries and dry cereals in a double row of glinting glass cylinders.
I’d ignored the “English” section, lest shrivelled sausages and flabby fried eggs shattered this dream. But upon tucking into picture-perfect plates one (fruit) and two (cakes, breads and cheeses), I had to choke back a hot tear of disappointment. Absolutely everything was several degrees too cold and tasted faintly of plastic. The fault of the fün it may have been, but despite the best efforts of Austria’s finest, I’ve never been so pleased to walk into a meeting room and see a paper plateful of cheap iced doughnuts.