Day 23: Klosterneuburg to Fohrenhain - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

April 10, 2019

Day 23: Klosterneuburg to Fohrenhain

While having only a small bedroom but access to a common area can sometimes be a problem, it worked out well this morning as the breakfast table was like an international conference. We had an Italian scientist, here for an actual conference, a couple from north of Paris, and a family from the south of India. We add to this our Austrian hostess, Eva, for five different native languages at the table.

An international way to start the day. The Italian scientist had already left. He was in Vienna for a week long climate change conference.
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We had chosen Klosterneuburg as a less expensive place to perch, just outside Vienna. Buy this town has some interesting landmarks of its own. We had a crack at looking at the Kloster, but found it both closed and with an admission fee anyway, plus it was up a hill. So we settled for a view of the welcome centre and the church building in the distance:

A distant view of Klosterneuburg
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I turned out to be well over 10 km from Klosterneuburg in to Vienna. Although much of that distance was covered along  the Donau, it was not a particularly pretty sight, with large roads around us and a lot of plain concrete construction by the river. There were, however, two bright spots on our "commute". The first was when Mattias came alongside, and asked where  we were from and what we were up to. It turned out that he has young kids, and would like to go touring with them. He also has family coming from Brazil, and was looking for recommendations about where to take them bike touring. All of which is stuff we like to talk about!

Mattias, on the way in to Vienna
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The second bright spot depends on your appreciation  or not of grafitti. For many kms along the river side, every surface is covered with tags and pictures, much of it revealing a fair level of technical accomplishment. The images by and large are kind of horror/robot/ distopia stuff - not our taste. But clearly this section is a "thing" and maybe has official sanction.  e a look at a few of the things:

The art was all along the river for kms
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This image seemed ok.
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A bit of a harsh Freudian painting - but legit Vienna stuff.
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Just as soon as we turned off the river and began to head into the heart of the city, I was looking for "real Vienna" buildings. It's something that happens in Paris - you come out of the Metro station (any Metro station), look around, and exclaim "Holy Cow, it's PARIS!". Now in Vienna, it was a bit of a slow start. Yes, the streets looked like this:

Some of our first Vienna buildings.
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But Vienna was just getting started, and would soon totally blow us away. Before we came to much more in terms of buildings, though, we entered the square in front of St Stephen's cathedral. St. Stephen's is hugely famous, mainly for musical performances. It's natural, since Vienna itself owes a lot of its fame to music. The names Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, Vivaldi, Salieri,  and Schubert spring to mind, and we know little of these things. We did just read that every night there are classical music concerts, and that the total audience size across the city can be 10,000.

Certainly, in front of the  cathedral were many (too many?) touts, all dressed in sometimes a bit tattered classical coasts, and offering concert tickets.

Easy to buy a concert ticket in Vienna
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The St. Stephen's interior is suitably large and impressive, but it is the fame more than the decorations that make the place. Much is blocked off too, so people pile up to get a good photo of something.  This time there was kind of a 3D sculptural display (or mobile?) hanging in the main space.

It was called the "Sky of Stones", and will be there until June. Ok.

Like all cathedrals, St Stephan's is tall and impressive from the outside
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This was early morning, and off season. Otherwise it might have been crowded!
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The decorative mobile
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A big feature of St Stephen's is organ music. Their main organ was destroyed in WWII, and only now is being fully restored/replaced. Easter Day, 2020, exactly 75 years after the destruction, will be the grand inauguration. Mark your calendar. Good luck getting in!
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Images of the WW II destruction, which came in 1945.
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There are lots of school kids in town today - must be related to Easter.
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In lots of spots in and around the cathedral were posters for various musical performances. 

It would be very smart to schedule time for music while in Vienna. We, unfortunately, are not that smart.
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Just about as exciting for us as the cathedral itself was a bit of action happening just outside. There, the ambulance department had brought a number of dogs, including light coloured Golden Retrievers. The workers and dogs were waiting to go into the cathedral, where, we understand, they were to receive blessings. Meanwhile, media interviews were going on outside, and people were greeting the dogs.

One of the big costs for us of cycle touring is that we feel we are away too much to be fair to any dog we might have. But in the past we have had four Goldens. We love them, and it was great just seeing these.

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Once you leave the square by the cathedral, you enter an extensive pedestrian area, that now has knock your socks off examples of "Vienna" buildings. Walking our bikes through this, I spied a beautiful green domed building down another street, so we headed off that way. The building turned out to the Spanish Riding School. But just before we reached that, Dodie spotted Demel!

Demel must be the premier cafe in this city of cafes.  Demel's web site begins:

"It was in 1786 across the now former Royal & Imperial Hofburgtheatre that confectioner Ludwig Dehne opened his confiserie, which almost instantly flourished into a success story. By the time the confectionery became the Demel that we know and love today in 1856, it had already become a hotspot among aristocrats and Vienna’s bourgeoisie.

Whether it was young Emperor Franz Joseph I., who would write love-letters about the large variety of treats or his Elizabeth, who could not get enough of the famous violet-sorbet – Demel became a pilgrimage site for those with a sweet tooth and kept its status even after the fall of the monarchy. Anna Demel, the first woman to ever receive the title of ‚Councillor of Commerce‘ in 1957, strictly guarded and assured that the old standards and traditions were kept, and so Demel continues to be a portal to monarchic times until today."

As mentioned yesterday, I was wondering how it would go if I went into a place like this waving my camera. But Dodie took the bull by the horns, and went in first. She was gone for a fair bit, but when she returned she announced that she had negotiated not only ok for the camera, but a lady was waiting inside to answer any of my questions!

I went in, and immediately a lovely girl came forward and invited me to ask away. To my primary question about "What is truly a torte?", she took a position just like Dodie's - that a torte is any fancy cake, that probably requires some steps after baking (like layering or addition of jam or cream or icing) but not always.  About whether torte cake should be nut and not flour based, she would not accept that this is a requirement, but pointed out three that were like that anyway. When I said that that was important to my choosing a torte, she accepted a "Gerollte Mandeltorte" as one that I would be getting.  Her next recommendation was the "Annatorte". This is their signature product, being named for the founder, Anna Demel. She said the swoopy chocolate top was a nod to Anna's hairdo.  

The third recommendation was for "Sacher Torte".  The Sacher situation at Demel is famous. According to a BBC web site:

"They take chocolate cake so seriously in Vienna that the city's two main producers once fought a nine-year legal battle about it.

The dispute was known as the "cake war".

The cake in question is the sachertorte, a chocolate sponge covered with chocolate icing, and filed with a layer - or two - of apricot jam.

For many visitors to the Austrian capital, enjoying a slice of delicious sachertorte is an essential thing to do during their stay.

And there are two famous, rival places to go for the cake - Hotel Sacher or the Demel cafe.

Sacher has been incredibly good at building on their brand, the famous cake, the story line, and, most importantly, maintaining the perception [of being the original]

A classic example of a duopoly, the two businesses more than dominate the sachertorte market, both in Austria, and overseas via online sales.

The legal battle, which ran from 1954 to 1963, was centred on which had the right to call its sachertorte the "original" one.

The case was complicated by the fact that the son of the chef credited with inventing the cake, in the 19th Century, had connections to both businesses.

However, eventually an out-of-court settlement was agreed, under which Hotel Sacher became the one that could say it was the original producer of the sachertorte" (however Demel has the right to put a chocolate disk on its cake, naming it Sacher torte).

I told my lady that I was only authorized to buy two slices today. That was not only true, but I had to run back out into the street to find more money, since my two slices rung in at a hefty 11 euros!

When I asked if I could not only photo the tortes but also my informant pointing them out, she brought forward another lady who she said had a more official Demel blouse on. I don't think my first lady was actually camera shy. I think she really was a perfectionist.

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These three use no flour
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Mozart Bombe!
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Not only was I able to record a Demel lady, and a bunch of tortes, but I got shots of bakers actually at work in the back, not to mention their stash of "Sacher" tortes. Grandchild Violet (the one who likes baking) - how about this as a place to get a job one day?

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Laurie MarczakViolet was entranced by the variety of tortes on display - clearly for her a baking oriented bicycle tour would be a hit. I mean. Obviously.
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4 months ago
Laurie Marczakthis is violet: me = (: + drool
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4 months ago
A dozen cake layers - torte raw material!
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I think the price tag on the cake in the open box in front is 51 euros, but you can cheap out on the one above for 19.50!
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Just outside Demel, aside from Gucci, Cartier, Armani, Fendi, etc. was a store specializing in the Mozart kugeln. But by now, we were "just looking" having blown the sweets budget at Demel.

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The Spanish Riding School - Home of the Lipizzaner Stallions was just down the street. The school has many dramatic statues, and coincidentally lots of caleches around the front.  I was tickled to get one shot of bike traffic one upping both horse and car traffic.

At the Spanish Riding School
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Bike cuts off both Mercedes and White Stallions!
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We ate our tortes in front of the School. While obviously we could not go in for a performance, a screen showed us the familiar scene:

The ballet of the stallions
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Bill ShaneyfeltWhile stationed near Kaiserslautern, Germany in '78, we took a trip when my wife's mom and friend visited. We saw the stallions dance!

Memories!
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4 months ago

Past the riding school one is in the "Museum Quartier", that has the State Opera and at least a dozen other stately buildings. There are also statues, like one for Mozart, for Goethe, for Strauss, etc.

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Before kind of leaking out the other side of all these wonders, we absorbed at least two other aspects of Vienna life. One was wurst from one of many on the sidewalk booths. Not only did these look great, but they were very good. By that I mean that even some time later we both felt stronger for having had one. The other thing, shown in a photo, is one of the many iconic Vienna trams. Some trams are newer, but most look like this.

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These wurst were great. Dodie sent me up alone, so I came back with 14 euros worth of wurst, pommes (fries), and that Alm Dudler. We just love Alm Dudler, which is elder flower flavoured lemonade.
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A typical building, with cafe on the ground floor.
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Grandkids - here come your postcards from Vienna!
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Finally back along the Donau, we got a shot of an interesting building, with a golden tower and other parts topped with golden balls.  This turned out to be the Fernwärme "waste incineration plant, whose façade was redesigned and given its present colorful, irregular structures by eco-architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser following a major fire in 1989. Since then, the former utility building has combined the topics of waste, energy and art in a fascinating way."

This is a waste incineration power plant!
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Now came our time to strike off onto what will variously be the Vienna-Prague Greenway, or Eurovelo 9, which take slightly different ways from time to time. Initially, the most exciting thing here was this turkey:

EV 9 will be new to us
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Pretty exciting turkey!
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Home for tonight is a chicken shack!
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It almost didn't happen, because the first man we talked to in the shack claimed the water was kaputt. But another came, and we got a room from him in an area that clearly had water. Only thing, the power quickly conked out. It took about 1/2 hour to figure that out. The internet proved to be almost zero. When I asked about another strong network that clearly was theirs, about an hour of deliberation produced the password for it, and it was then ok. I noticed (just one) cockroach downstairs, and ants up here - which accords with reviews we are reading now, after the fact, on Booking. There are other problems, like no soap, and unsafe wiring, but we are pretty easy going. The place seems to be partly a long term rental, since the fridge is stuffed with someone's stuff, and we listened to a lot of animated talking through the thin walls. All, of course, very bloggable!

Chicken shack, No kidding!
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Setting off on EV9, ending at Chicken Shack.
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Today's ride: 38 km (24 miles)
Total: 1,203 km (747 miles)

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Keith ClassenHi Steve/Dodie -hoping you are tracking the number of tortes on your ride (in addition to quality of course). I would be curious as to your eventual “torteage”, similar to mileage .... kilometres/torte or tortes per 100km. Enjoy Vienna and all those tortes ...yummy!
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4 months ago
Gregory GarceauHi Grampies,
I've missed a few days of your travels, but this morning I started catching up and here I've landed on your Vienna page. I've never been there, and it's likely I never will, but through your pictures and clever descriptions I can see that Vienna is everything I thought it would be--and more. The "more" would be such quirky things as the fire brigade and its dogs waiting to be blessed, the cyclist cutting off the white stallion AND the Mercedes in one fell swoop, and the Chicken Shack.

Here in the Mpls.-St.Paul metro area we have a lot of chicken joints. I'm going to see if any of them (KFC, Cain's, Popeye's, Chick-fil-A, Buffalo Wild Wings, etc.) serve both chicken and schnitzel. Not likely, but if they do, I'll order both and pretend I'm in Austria.

Greg
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4 months ago
Sue PriceBut wait? Which of those yummy tortes did you try? And how were they? Have you come up with some sort of torte resting system? Will there be a picture of all the tortes you've tried on the last page where the reader has to try and match the pic to the place where you found it? By the way, good job, Dodie, setting up your photo shoot!
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4 months ago