It is no secret that we love, love, love Tirol. The scenery is unparalleled; the alpine air, restorative; the cuisine and wines, extraordinary; and the people, as cheerful and friendly as the Danes.  With a little help from the online Tirolean tourism staff earlier last week (who are incredible in their helpfulness!), I charted a course for a long weekend beginning on Friday in Lienz, a city noted for its culinary pleasures and “Italian flair.” To say that the recommendations by the tourism staff, from the hotel to the restaurants, were perfect would be an understatement.

We arrived in good order and left our cases at the hotel.  A short walk across the Isel River led us to Lienz’ AltStadt and the rare treat of a Friday evening farmer’s market. I think the aroma of several dozen variations of Speck (bacon) and another local specialty of seasoned Knödel (dumplings) put both humans and canine in a weekend state of mind. Everyone was smiling, too!IMG_2177

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“Italian Flair,” indeed. No mention of the Wiener Schnitzel (co-opted from the Milanese Cotoletto, by the way) here!

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A stroll around the town made the late afternoon pass by easily.

Walking back across the river to deposit a rather tired Clayton Theodore at the hotel before heading out for dinner.

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Dinner was at a recommended Gasthaus near the hotel, one, we learned later,  with a dark Cossack history . The Hauspfandl, bacon-wrapped pork medallions atop herbed Spaetzle and an Eierschwammerl (mushroom) sauce. Exceptional.

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And speaking of exceptional, our hotel. Elegant and not pretentious, and very much to our liking. “Wellness” hotels are not really our thing in general; this hotel, however, was not all pushy with its “quartz” infused water and cucumber-ginger “detox” dinners.  The hotel seemed to cater to each guest’s personal concept of wellness. Although we only stayed two nights, we departed feeling as pampered and refreshed as if we had stayed a week. IMG_5943

A snap of our breakfast. Sekt and Bircher Muesli, on a sunny terrace overlooking the river, with the Dolomiten Alpen in the background. Our kind of wellness. IMG_5946

After our thoroughly pampered evening, Saturday dawned sunny and with blue skies. A perfect beginning for our planned drive along the Großglockner High Alpine Road…