Vacation 2023

Sketchy observations at breakfast in a hotel · Part 1
My first vacation in six years

Ostsee, Ostseeküste, Klützer Winkel, Steinbeck, Manfred W. Jürgens Ostsee, Ostseeküste, Klützer Winkel, Steinbeck, Manfred W. Jürgens

At the entrance you have to wait. The correctly dressed Capo Cameriere approaches us with a charming smile. Buongiorno. There is no better way to say it. We follow him through the table labyrinth. He turns over two coffee cups. Another smile. Prego. Grazie. How often he has already said and heard these words in his life, and will also say and hear them in the future. Are we guests still human beings for him? Will anything change here when he retires one day?
Maestro, you are in a good mood again today! What should I do, it's my job. So far I have everything under control. He adds more quietly: So far.

In addition to us, seventy other hotel guests are currently having breakfast here. Two old oil paintings hang opposite the lavishly and variedly filled buffet. Yellowed, large-scale landscapes strive to evoke romanticism. None of the guests notice them. Eight magnificently decorated, huge chandeliers shine. Their forms can be found in the ornaments of the large windows facing the hallway. Everything tries to bring back faded glamorous charm.

Huge blinded mirrors gaze sadly into the room. In the neighborhood gigantic hand-painted vases. Beige and sand tones communicate with light green walls. Today's 20's are often reminiscent of those of the last century. Or is it the other way around? A strange mix of hope and confidence, poverty and violence, insecurity and despair, arrogance and a lack of style can be felt. What a pity that egocentricity and loneliness are increasing. Where is the positive spirit of optimism that is reinventing itself every day?

I encounter a strange acoustic mix of plates, cups and cutlery jingling. The same playlist sounds from the ceiling as on the previous days. Cannonball Adderley, Terence Trent D'Arby and Elton John is coming soon. It's still ten minutes to Adriano Celentano and U2. They still play originals here.
Snatches of conversation from at least eight languages flutter through the air. As soon as the gaze leaves the plate, smartphones feed the tired brains. Fleeting swipes on mini-screens opens the waking day for poor and rich, young and old. Inexorable ringing, techno tones or even the barking of a cell phone dog echo through the breakfast group. Colorfully dressed girls giggle and show each other new cat photos.

On the left at the buffet, the high heels of a woman with a visibly fresh facelift and dyed jet-black hair. On the right the shuffling of a gentleman my age. Oh man, I think, my paint is off too.
A little boy stands helplessly at the soda machine. He tripped back and forth. How does that work? Others also got something to drink here. Why doesn't anyone tell him that you just have to press the glass against the metal bracket. A beautiful older Italian lady with a huge red scarf recognizes his problem, takes his hand to his amazement and helps. His eyes shine. A shy grazie follows. He immediately enjoys the first sip of juice and refills it himself

Already at breakfast, young guests present huge brand names or strange slogans on their shirts and voluntarily turn themselves into walking advertising columns. There a two-meter youth with a white beanie on his head. The eye of God adorns the back of his T-shirt. Chinese characters on the forearms. Does he understand them? At the neighboring table, an old man mumbles: 'Look, a kid with a beard'.
Yesterday a plump gentleman with short pants sat at the same table. A can of Red Bull was tattooed on his right calf. Ingeniously engraved and colored as well as spatially brilliant.

One falls out. He proudly sports the photo of a mixed forest on his shirt.

Heavy staggers a woman by. She wears a gold-plated baby pacifier around her neck on a dark blue blouse. I think, hallelujah, if this becomes fashionable and ask my wife: 'Have I missed a trend again'.

It is striking that only a few females wear short hairstyles here. In passing, I overhear a lady talking about the great skills of her hairdresser. Another praises her plastic surgeon and points to parts of her face with a gentle hand movement. The relatives marvel silently with wide eyes. A child covers his mouth with his hand.

There two elegant hungry athletes. They look like they are from a different planet. They have probably just landed. Where else would her confusion come from? The older the retirees, the more colorful and richer they are in design side pockets filled with technology. What might the women who stayed at home look like? The only thing missing is the webcam on the headband for the breakfast live stream on the internet. At least one watch with a listening and scanning function on each wrist. At some point, insurance companies will call up these values simultaneously and, if they are motionless, bitingly warn of premium increases in the online glasses. For the conscious heavyweights, a quick tap on the AI-glasses is enough and the increase is accepted.

A young couple is being assigned a table. They already wear bright green reflecting sunglasses for breakfast. Glasses in general have gotten bigger lately. Almost everyone who wears glasses is currently wearing black on their nose. Me too. Blonde-dyed women, on the other hand, tend to wear red glasses to match the dress and lipstick. But the most beautiful black glasses are worn by a slim young waitress with a white shirt, an elegantly tailored waistcoat and a black bow tie. Her youthful face with short dark hair is reminiscent of a magician. We call her Mrs. Potter.

In Fellini's 'Roma' from 1972 there is a very voluminous female figure who is bedridden because of severe inflammation of the ovaries. Such a seldom compact creature is loudly lecturing her extended family. She is sitting a little apart at the next table. Otherwise, she would clear the table with her important hand movements. A long, heavy earring constantly bangs against the neck when gesturing. It doesn't seem to bother her. Does she confuse acting with governing? Two children secretly look at each other with narrowed mouths. They are visibly waiting for the end of the eloquent morning speech.

A man in his prime appears in a dressing gown. An old pair of gray striped pajamas peeks out from under it. Why hasn't anyone told him where he is. Others, with industrially torn jeans, look well-dressed next to him.

Again, a child can be observed who was muted by his mother while eating. It sees a cartoon on her smartphone. It fidgets nervously with its legs and boredly looks after pink dinosaurs and flying hearts. Maybe it would like to talk to someone.

A dissatisfied lady with velvety black gloves has been dipping her tea bag into the cooling water for minutes. Should someone have mercy and read her the menu, like the bald man at the next table, who is reciting it to his wife in a dark voice. Her face says 'The easiest way would be to the buffet'. She takes a deep breath and stays seated.

I proudly carry my full plate to the table on my fingertips. Mrs. Potter smiles, skilfully and elegantly re-sets the free tables. Never before have I seen tablecloths fall smoothly and accurately over tables in the manner of an accordion. Certainly, there is a technical term for this magical ability in gastronomy.

A slender woman with beautiful, lusciously curly hair sits at the next table. With a hairstyle like this, you don't need a pillow at night. In my wife's facial expression I read: 'Please don't tell her that'.

Is it a coincidence that during this time more and more young, well-trained men with three-day beards and short dark hair are wearing tight-fitting army-green sweaters? On the way to the next bread roll, I see a gentleman making fun of Ukraine with a smartphone video in Russian at a buddy's.

A grey-haired man in a light fur coat, waiting for the boss, enters the entrance to the hall. Everything about him is flawless white, a real eye-catcher, a gentleman. He doesn't come, he appears. Suddenly, a plump lady's cell phone falls out of her pocket. Was the gallant polar bear the reason? When she bends down, her short gray frayed fashion fur reveals a huge tattoo of roses and barbed wire around her hips in front of him. Yesterday she wore green, full body green. Mrs. Tree Frog knows how to stage herself.

The crowd continues to watch the small screens tired and relaxed. Grandmothers make audible calls to their grandchildren all over the world. Before that, they sent everyone they know photos of the fruit and the rolls. Photos sent with artificial smiles as an expression of social participation. Quickly straightened the lettuce leaf so that everyone knows: Grandma eats healthily. After that, a few selfies, grinning empty and flat. Away with it. In the past, insecurity and boredom were covered up by smoking a cigarette. That was not healthy either. Today, bored couples spend hours wiping on handy screens, each for themselves.

A mute elderly couple seems to have seen happier times. The joy in each other is visibly gone. Why are they still going on vacation together? Is this what moaning retirees look like? Will we wither like this one day? The husband reminds me of Professor Abronsius in Polanski's horror comedy 'The Fearless Vampire Killers'. The hope increases that this day will be enjoyable for at least one. Now he uses a toothpick to sharpen his upper canine teeth.

At the next table, a girl is wiping her nose with the palm of her hand from bottom to top. Her grandmother with a steeply piled hairstyle is outraged and frowns. Grandpa laboriously eats his fried egg with his head tilted. His smartphone has been stuck between his shoulder and cheek for ten minutes. What could be more important than a delicious breakfast?

I dream my way back to the year 1916. The grand hotel in which we are sitting has just opened. A brand new gramophone with a huge brass-colored horn plays the current Neapolitan hit 'O sole mio', sung by the young Enrico Caruso, softly for the breakfast party. Sitting around me are ladies in tasteful long silk dresses. I admire the exorbitant hairstyles. Hats with exotic fruit imitations crown some heads. The theme of the morning is yesterday's evening with the thirty-strong dance orchestra. Men in uniforms, some with monocles, swarmed around the women. Hot rhythms warmed up the high society and helped to forget the warlike reality for a while.

Then another daydream pops up. What will tomorrow be like here if AI wins? Surely there will be odorless printer noises coming from the kitchen. Regular guests can already tell from the sound of the printer which freshly ejected dish will be served promptly by the friendly robot with the printed tie. Man managed to abolish himself to a large extent. Cooks and waiters had not been available for a long time. Completely overwhelmed programmers are sitting in the kitchen.

A mini drone called Colibri picks and determines the alcohol value of the chipped guests. A light up in the table top immediately shows the result. Green means there is still a glass. If it is yellow, two robots accompany the guest immediately but discreetly to their sleeping cell. If it is red, you are banned from the house and there are negative points on the social compatibility chip under the scalp.

Back to today. As after every dinner, we sit with a glass of wine at the hotel bar, or rather, in the huge hallway next door with the red and black armchairs and the dimmed lights. Other guests do not find the bar to be that exciting either. Every evening the night porter sits there, bored. Soccer is flickering silently on a screen. It is become common to sing the hit loops from the net with softened girly interpretations. This does not seem to bother the security guard. He fell asleep happily on his side in the leather chair an hour ago.

The order is being taken at the next table. A younger woman orders a martini with a pursed mouth and a head held high. Her friends quietly order white wine. A short time later, the friendly barmaid serves. The martini drinker immediately surfs the web on her cell phone and shows the others a martini photo. The olive is probably too small for her or the shade of green is wrong. Clearly disappointed, she sips from the glass.

It is Monday. We guests are visibly unsettled. Searching looks in vain, nobody wants to place us. The staff are joking around, the mood is more relaxed than in the past two weeks. There is more and loud laughter. The head waiter seems to be free today. Or has he already retired? If things went on like this for a week, there would only be Coke in one and a half liter bottles and burst sausages with a dab of mustard on gray paper plates at the breakfast buffet. Tablecloths would also soon be dispensed with.

It occurs to my wife that the chef is undercover with us today, just like Louis de Funès did in 'Le grand Restaurant' from 1966. He wanted to know how the staff in his renowned gourmet restaurant ticked without him, disguised in a wig, visited his luxury shop and ordered a radish from the waiter. Indeed, he ordered a single radiWith stopovers in the Dolomites, in Munich and Gera, we drive back to Wismar completely renewed from our Lake Garda vacation. 'Crows in the Snow' are waiting on the easel.

Text © MWJ, Wismar, 07/03/2023
Photo © MWJ, Lake Garda 02/2023

Wismar Podcast, Podcast-Wismar, Atelier-Podcast, Podcast Malerei, Malerei-Podcast, Maler-Podcast, Manfred W. Jürgens Malerei Wismar

in the snow

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