This happened last weekend in the mountains. In the first evening we drove to Mayrhofen for a visit, it was the biggest village in the area and we decided eventually to have dinner there as well.
The second evening came but we were tired and we ate too much during the day so we only wanted to pick up a small snack from the super market. It was Saturday afternoon and we were astonished to notice that the super market was already closed! According to the opening hours it should haven been open till 18 o’clock but it seems that someone closed the shop early.
We did see a restaurant next to the super market belonging to a hotel nearby so, after we went to our hotel to change into our evening clothes, we returned to have a small dinner. The lights in the restaurant were on and the staff was in. So it must be open, right? Wrong! They don’t serve food, the lady informed us. Only starting from mid-December. Pretty stupid but then why is a restaurant open if they don’t serve food? We left the place quite disappointed because by this time we got really hungry.
Finkenberg is a small village, like very very small. It’s on the mountain, literally, so we had to drive uphill or downhill all the time. There are no road lights. It was snowing all day. In the evening, in that pitch black darkness, the village looks scary. Not to mention the animals which might run around. So you can imagine that I wasn’t in the mood to walk too far in the village on a hunt for food and possibly get eaten by something on the way.
Considering the above, we figured that our only option is to drive to Mayrhofen again. As we were walking to the car which was left in front of the hotel, I noticed a hotel with bright lights at the end of the road. I was too far to see if they had a restaurant too but on the ground floor bright lights were flickering so we thought it’s worth a try.
As we were approaching, I recognized a hotel bar on the ground floor and I started to have a bad feeling about it. It probably had no restaurant, I thought. We went in anyway but I was too shy so I waited in the lobby while my boyfriend went to ask if they do have a restaurant and if they serve food at all. He had a huge smile on his face so that was a definite YES! They told us that the restaurant was reserved for a company Christmas party for 70 or so people but they can squeeze us in. It felt a bit strange at that point but I was too hungry to care so we agreed to stay.
We waited just a minute at the bar until they prepared our table and they lead us to our very private and romantic area of a huge restaurant nicely arranged with burning candles, Christmas decorations everywhere while Christmas carols were playing quietly in the background.
After we ordered the drinks, I immediately checked the menu but the card contained a long list of meals listed below each other and only the main course had three options. A six course dinner? Are you kidding me? So much for a small snack!
We waited for our drinks, red wine and sparkling water, which goes well with such a large meal, and then we were kindly invited to the salad bar. We were starving so we didn’t have to be asked twice but there was literally no guest in the restaurant yet. Not a soul!
The Christmas party should have started from 6:30 but at 7 it was still empty. We were not even invited to the party and we’re going to be the first at the salad bar even before the party guests arrive? It felt definitely uncomfortable but the stomach was growling so it was not the best time to worry about such things.
As we approached the salad bar, we realized that this was indeed a 4 star hotel’s restaurant. Everything looked so amazingly fresh and I just wanted to try it all!
As soon as we finished our salad, the friendly waitress came to take away the plates and asked if we would like to make a break. Both of us answered in chorus that we can surely proceed with the next course. Luckily good sense kicked in and I had enough time to tell her that I will be skipping the second starter so I’ll have the third starter next, which was the soup.
Again, as we finished the soup, the very nice lady came to take away our plates and asked if we needed a break now. The main course was next so we definitely refused to wait. We probably looked like two very starving people! Which we actually were!
The portions were luckily small so I could handle it all until that point. As I finished my tasty grilled fish plate, we decided to have a break after all. Only the dessert was left (and the cheese plate which I skipped) and there was still no sign of any party guests!
I was sipping on my glass of red wine when the first couple finally arrived. The gentleman was dressed in an expensive-looking suit and the lady was wearing a long elegant evening gown. I was dressed in a pullover and jeans, still wearing my big winter boots because I hadn’t packed any other shoes. So this was starting to feel even more uncomfortable.
Other guests arrived and tables around us were occupied so our nice little private corner wasn’t that private anymore. I was expecting funny or even angry looks in our direction. I thought they would recognize that we’re not working at that company and we had no business being at this party. But instead everyone greeted us friendly as they passed by our table. So we were blending in nicely with the rest of the party guests, I assumed. They probably didn’t know everyone at that company so they thought that we’re their colleagues too. Luckily no one came to chat with us because we had no clue about the company and what it actually does so we would have had a hard time having a nice collegial discussion.
By the time the restaurant completely filled up and everyone was still at the drink phase, our desserts arrived. We took our time and enjoyed it.
We were in no hurry to leave this nice place. We even ordered coffee and only at this point the other guests were starting to approach the salad bar.
I noticed with the corner of my eye that before the big crowd arrived, one of the waitresses arranged the salad bar like it hasn’t been touched yet. Quite embarrassing! But as we were having our coffee, we already drank some wine so we were feeling pretty jolly, discussing loud about various topics. We didn’t pay much attention to where we are anymore and no one else seemed to care who we are either.
So we ate well and drank well at someone else’s party. The real party guests haven’t even received their second starter when we paid. It must have seem odd to them that two guests were paying at a company Christmas party but they just looked curiously at us receiving the big bill and then continued their discussions further.
I suddenly saw what it looked like probably the boss of the company, doing the usual rounds at each table and greeting his employees. This was our sign to get out of there as fast as we could. Or at least before the boss arrives to our table and wonders who we are.
The door to the terrace was close to us, we’ve even seen some very young kids enter through that door. A couple of kids unlocked the door for them so I wasn’t sure if they were also crashing the party as uninvited guests like us or were they just too shy to come through the front door. Nevertheless I had the idea to escape through that door but my boyfriend didn’t want to hear about it. So we got up, put on our warm jackets and started to make our way towards the front door through the tables and the big crowd.
It looked probably strange that a couple of people were leaving the party when most of the guests didn’t even have their second meal. Usually in these situations some guests stop the ones who are leaving, to ask if everything is OK. But we made sure to avoid eye contact so that we can go out unnoticed or at least without others stopping us. We made it to the front door where our waitress was entertaining other guests and my boyfriend approached her to thank her for this very nice evening. He slipped a big fat tip in her hand which she immediately put in her pocket wishing us all the best in the world.
Perhaps we should have stayed longer, until everyone had a glass of wine too many and the real party would start. I’ve noticed that dancing on these kinds of parties is rather uncommon in Germany and Austria, unlike in Romania. So I don’t think we’ve missed much anyhow.
Nevertheless I can’t describe how relieved I was, when we eventually went out. It felt like a stone falling off my chest. But what has started out as a small sandwich in our hotel room turned into a fantastic evening. The restaurant was incredibly nice, the atmosphere was warm and jolly, the staff was extremely friendly and the food was delicious. If any guests recognized that we’re not part of their party, they didn’t show it and instead welcomed us with open arms. Despite all this, I will not do this again anytime soon.