Autumn Bounty – Part 2

Zala, Hungary


Mushroom hunting, chestnut foraging, walnut and fruit picking.. these are just few of the many exciting benefits we gain by walking Charlie the dog every morning.

He entered our lives at the beginning of Spring this year and since then, we made it a point to walk him everyday, come rain or shine or strong winds. We walk along hills, forests, open fields and parks. It’s a very addicting habit. We like the walking exercise and communing with Nature is very therapeutic.

But more than reading from a book or learning from a classroom, we are so privileged to observe firsthand all the stages of Nature, for instance, the tree. From the moment they start re-growing leaves at Springtime, to the blooming of flowers, their transformation into fruits, up to maturity until Mother Nature (rain and wind) drops them freely into the ground, ready for the picking. And the beauty of it is, we, as passers-by, get the benefit of this delicious bounty, almost unlimited that we have to say “Stop!” when our bags get so full and heavy. And Charlie? He voraciously munches all the walnuts he sees on the ground non-stop that we have to pull his leash, lest he gets sick of overeating!

Nevertheless, it’s been highly satisfactory for the three of us, thanks to Charlie|

hunting for mushroom has never been this easy..


like a telephone directory

my bag is full but there are mushrooms as far as the eye can see..

like a beach umbrella

Five kilos, more or less.  I already cooked them as mushroom sauce and mushroom soup, packed in serving sizes on the freezer.

My umbrella, which is used mainly for clearing the leaves rather than as cover from the rain

Pine cones, great as Christmas decors

It’s been raining and windy all night and this is what we saw this morning – chestnuts fallen on the ground.

The rule is – one does not pick chestnuts from the tree, only off the ground. In fact they are only ripe after they have fallen…

Walnuts, too, just dropping on the ground.

The two containers of walnuts on the right were picked up this morning. The one on the left, the other day.
Those are eggs to show size of some walnuts. Few chestnuts next to the bowl.

And these are the walnuts picked up last week.

A B&B that bespeaks the legendary Austrian Hospitality

“You’re becoming a B&B geek.” my husband tells me as he drives the van out of Villa Elizabeth.

Indeed, another exceptional experience we gained staying in the guesthouse of our dreams that night.

Move over chain hotels!  Five-star or Budget,  we are definitely sticking to the more personal touch of beautiful homes, generous breakfast  and charming hosts who treat us as treasured guests rather than customers.  Even better than that, like long-lost friends, for which hotel in the world whose owner or staff would give us the French bisous (a kiss on each cheek) while saying our goodbyes?  No, this simply doesn’t happen in chain hotels but we have experienced these in some B&Bs in France and Italy but Austria beats them both as the owner, Anna Maria, went all the way as to thrust cereal bars taken out of the buffet counter, into my hands, to sustain us on our drive to our destination.  Such kindness.


Villa Elizabeth, so-named because the owner adores the Empress of Austria of same name, is an elegant house transformed into a 5-star luxury B&B  (with spa and pool) in Admont, a small town sitting at the foot of the Austrian Alps where verdant and undulating landscape make you sing Julie Andrews’ Sound of Music signature song  “The hills are alive…” through and through.

Anna Maria made us feel so special, offered us chilled local beer in our room, where chocolates are neatly spread out on all of the  beds and flowers adorn every corner.

“I’ll give you the most beautiful room in the house.” she told us as we were coming in and truly so,  we were just blown away by its size.  It’ss more than a bedroom, it’s more of a Presidential suite with an  extra room for two more people and the huge bathroom prides itself with not only a polygonal bath at the far end but also a window showing a postcard view of the town dominated by the church and the mountains in the background.

 The town of Admont as seen from the bedroom terrace


The elegant lounge which made me almost teary-eyed with joy.  I felt so privileged to be in there.  Every room of the villa is a work of art!

Still the lounge, with its palatial chandelier, and the adjoining room on the left.

 The adjoining room on the right of the lounge

The sumptuous buffet breakfast corner

Our dining table which is located in the glass conservatory that overlooks the gardens.
There are three tables here,  the longest one was occupied by four other Austrians guests who were on holiday.


We always believe that staying in small family-run guesthouses is part of the joy of travelling for we get to experience true local hospitality,  listen to some history, meet and make friends, gain valuable ideas,  the list is endless…

And Villa Elizabeth satisfies each of all these points.  We are definitely going back bringing our friends and family so they, too, can experience a memorable stay in this charming place that bespeaks the legendary Austrian hospitality.

Villa Elisabeth
Paradiesstraße 86, 8911 Admont, Austria
60 euros/night, double room