Sunday, January 2, 2011

More of 2010 Draws to a Close

So we went to dinner at the Landhaus Waldschlosschen. It was very kind of the hotel receptionist to call around for a restaurant for us to have our New Year's Eve dinner, especially considering it was just past 8pm already.

And I love going out to eat with J... if the place is awesome he really enjoys it, and the place is not quite awesome, he enjoys that too.

This place was less than. Oh my, but it was interesting!

There were several challenges I faced. First of all, I am fluent in two languages, and passable in another. None of those are German. So even asking for a table for two was, well, iffy. Fortunately, the waitress spoke enough English to figure out that we were the couple sent over from the hotel. And, to tell us the rules.

Yes, rules.

It was a New Year's Eve buffet dinner. We could eat as much as we wanted until 9pm. Drinks were extra, even juices and teas. Here's the challenge: it was already 8:25.

I am a very slow eater at the best of times. And, I find buffets very stressful because I always want to eat 2-3 times my bodyweight in order to get my money's worth. How could I possibly do that in 35 minutes!!!

And of course, the rush and the buffet dinner made the long, lingering dinner that J and I so enjoy impossible. But there were compensations.

In general, the food was pretty good - which, I must admit, I don't really expect from buffets. The schnitzel was very disappointing, and a couple of the desserts were far too boozy-tasting for me to eat, but there were quite a few very nice dishes.

I showed admirable restraint and put only one or two bites of about 5 different things on my plate on each go-around. So I was full after two plates, which gave me just enough time to load up my dessert plate before they started dismantling the buffet.

Then we ordered a coffee (well, tea for J the coffee-hater), and leisurely ate our dessert. Ahem. I ate leisurely. J eats so quickly this meal-time-crunch was a non-issue for him. I usually eat about half as much as he does, starting before him and ending after him.

While enjoying the non-rushed part of the meal, we took the time to look around. The decor was early-demented-Grandma. By that I mean, there was a carving of a witch hanging from one of the rafters, and a disembodied Santa-head on the wall. There was an assortment of unexpected Christmas decorations, such as small Christmas rocking horses, stockings hanging below pictures on the wall, and lopsided mini-trees bedecking every table. We also noted a couple of ceramic pigs placed about the room. Interesting.

For some reason our credit card didn't work there, even though we'd just used it to pay for the hotel. Luckily, we could pay by PIN, which was news to us. We'd always been able to use our PIN to withdraw cash from an ATM, but not to pay in a store outside of Holland before.

Anyway, we were the last guests to leave, and drove safely back to our hotel, trying to avoid looking directly at the silent-meditation people on our way back to our room. The usual Dutch tradition is to set off fireworks at midnight, although of course the 10 days before someone somewhere is setting them off. J and I watched some Dutch New Year's Eve programs and set off some private fireworks of our own instead. Wink wink!

What a great end to a great year!

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