Travel Thursday Snapshots: Madonna Inn

“Wow, the fun starts in the parking lot. . .”
Looking around, I thought that, if forced to go somewhere with it, I’d call this a German or Swiss fairy lodge, the difference being that instead of following just one motif, it included too many. Right in front of me was a round brown-thatched structure seemingly made out of rocks, with a similar wing flowing to the right. Extending the wing, though going above the road in a way I’d seen in small German towns, was a mouth-watering representation of what the house of the witch in the Hansel und Gretel story musta looked like. In the other direction from the lobby there was more of an English Tutor feel to the building, complimented by the small garden in front of it.
Taking out the tiny digital camera and setting it for wide angle, I tried my best to encompass the whole thing but failed, so I reminded myself to do it before I left tomorrow, then concentrated on the juxtaposition of the cobbled-together-rock chimney and the cupola on top of the main building. Remembering how I’d always wanted to visit this place, I couldn’t help but grin as I made my way inside.
Just from simply seeing the exterior and the lobby, I wished I could look in on all one hundred and nineteen rooms, if the sign in the corridor was up to date, even though I’d checked every single one out on the website before choosing. . . or, you know, grabbing the one not already reserved. There were some obvious ones, like Cloud Nine, Just Heaven, Hearts & Flowers, and Bridal Falls, plus overly cute sets like Ren, Dez, and Vous, and Merry, Go and Round. Other names weren’t as interesting, but the décor sure was: Caveman, Jungle Rock, Highway Suite, Utility Room. . .
Of course it would have been a lot more fun had Katie not been forced to cancel at the last moment. She could have easily passed for a Suthin’ blonde “Daisy Mae,” and no doubt could pull off an “Austrian” mountain beauty, but neither room was really suggestive of their names; Daisy Mae, as a matter of fact, was a cave. “Romance” would have been good, but not so early in the relationship. Of course that had been back when I’d made the reservation, and things had certainly changed since, but she didn’t need to know that.
In the end I’d gone with “Swiss Belle.”
During all the signing-in nonsense someone had taken my bags up to said Swiss room, so the walk through the corridors was quick and easy, and just a few minutes later I was getting my first glimpse of my one-night abode. I spent the next ten minutes gaping, first going over to one of the rock walls and carefully banging a fist against it, wincing as I scraped my knuckles; yep, that’s the real thing. Next I moved to the window, which in this place was of course no ordinary transparent viewing device. I wasn’t sure it could be called stained glass, because it looked damn thick, and didn’t have bright colors, but quickly I left that alone and concentrated on the scene, which depicted Swiss-looking cows and a flower that I thought I might have seen in those same Alps. Next to my leg was a rock outcropping jutting out of the wall which served as a small table, looking appropriately weird but also fun-funky. I followed that up to the roof, where I saw wooden beams the likes of which might have been spawned in a beerhouse, leading to a seemingly sparse-looking chandelier. Not as fun to shoot, I mused, but then I had no model to work with anyway.
The bathroom wasn’t rock, instead decorated in pretty floral wallpaper, so I left that alone for now. The next thing that caught my eye was the headboard, a surprising shade of green that looked to be cut in the shape of a cactus, of all things. Not very Swiss there, I sighed, counting it as a miss despite liking it.
Tossing myself on the bed for a rest before dinner, I grabbed the brochures on the table on the way down. “The motel is a monument of unremitting, flamboyant kitsch: Alp exterior, Swiss country with a gingerbread fairy motif, lavish pink rooms. . .” A twenty-eight-foot fake gold tree! I need to find that! Then I came to most likely the place’s most famous attraction: “The rock waterfall urinal is a fixture along California’s Central Coast. Many tourists come to visit the urinal, to the embarrassment of males who genuinely need to use the facilities.”
I reminded myself to hit the floral-wallpaper head here before finding the restaurant, then persevered in my reading. “Anybody can build one room and a thousand like it. I want people to come in with a smile and leave with a smile. It’s fun. What fun do you think Paul Getty got out of his life? Hard to argue with that kind of logic.
After making a mental note to be on the lookout for the thirty-three-foot-long sofa, I let my stomach do the talking—or just grumbling—and headed back the way I’d arrived, looking straight ahead so I wouldn’t be distracted by the trademarked—really!—Pepto-Bismol-like-pink color scheme. Compared to that, the pomegranate décor of the restaurant—for lack of a better word—was a thin slice of heaven, although the prices were not. On the other hand, I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t try the bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and that was that.
Not in the mood to go back to my room after dinner, I nosied around and quickly found the entrance to the coffeeshop, known in these here parts as the Copper Café, featuring a wooden door set in a rock wall; I took a photo of it while imagining my six-foot-blonde almost-date sniffing the shrubbery hanging above the door. Then I sat by a huge window etched in what she would have called a Wild Rose pattern. Grinning, I pretended she was here, hearing her dulcet tones describing the table tops, then focus on the chairs, which had a huge cushiony seat but only skinny piping in a heart shape for back support, which would no doubt have my back aching before long.
Once Katie-in-my-mind got started on the wall displays I sighed and went up to my room, hoping for a fresh attitude in the morning to explore the rest of this palace of kitsch. . .