Day 4: Hochst - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 22, 2019

Day 4: Hochst

Today was planned as an all fun day (though on a trip like this, maybe every day qualifies that way). First, we knew there was a market in the centre of Bregenz, a good place to find some breakfast. Then we had lined up a string of bike shops to visit, to see if one could solve our handlebar mount problem. Finally, it would be over to Bernie and Delia's by the scenic route, to be taken to a regional specialties restaurant. As it turned turned out, Delia threw in a torte tracking adventure, topping it with eis café. Yeah, clearly an all fun day!

The Bregenz market does not feature the wild abundance and flare of something like the one in Arles, but in typical Austrian/Germanic style it solidly covers all the bases - trucks with side opening displays of cheese, meat, and bakery, plus fruit,  vegetable, and flowers vendors. We were there just at set up, so maybe we missed a possible bustling scene, but we have the impression that Bregenz does not do "bustling".

The market might bustle up a bit more later.
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The mohn kuchen on top had way more nicely ground and flavoured poppy seed than a typical hamantasche. The kuchen is resting on an apple strudle-y thing that was higher quality than one might think.
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Buildings in central Bregenz are stylish in a conservative but nice way.
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The first bike shop on our list was Radsport Drissner on Rheinstrasse. Bernie likes this family run one, and it also has the distinction of being a dealer for Victoria, our brand of German bike.

Looking at our handlebar mount story yesterday, Jonathan Hecht, Jacquie Gaudet, and Mike Ayling commented that the KlickFix brand of compatible mount mostly lacks the drawbacks of the Ortlieb original. We agree on that, so that when Drissner said that they only carry the KlickFix, we said wrap 'em up, and let's make that two. The second one was because Dodie's mount too is a bit at the wrong angle, and we assumed that adjusting it would kill it.

We have noticed that in really all cases, English has served perfectly well in communicating with people in Austria and Germany. In fact it's a little easier to communicate here than in France, where English is much less well known, so that we have to fall back on our imperfect expression and understanding. In Drissner, the personable and knowledgeable young man seemed to speak perfect English, with Dodie detecting only one small glitch. Language skill, like musical, artistic, craft, mechanical, and other skills is inspiring to observe when you run into it.

The very helpful man at Drissner.
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Look Jonathan, Jacquie, and Mike, we took your advice !
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Mike AylingA brief word of warning:
Make sure that you hear a loud click each time you put the bag on the bike and test that it is firmly in place.
I lost my bag once, ran over it and was diverted to the side of the road but still upright. The bag now has a few abrasions.

I thought that E38 was a bit more than I paid a few years back but I notice that it is a wider version designed to straddle the e-bike computer/speedo thing.

Anyway a much more user friendly product that the Ortlieb version.

Mike
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3 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Mike AylingYes, we (especially Dodie) are very careful to verify a positive click with the handlebar bags. They are not hard to put on but it is a bit fiddly if you are not careful.
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3 months ago
At this bike shop, as in most in Europe now, e-bikes take centre stage.
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Having solved our problem by throwing a wad of money at it (lots of problems seem susceptible to being whacked by a wad of money), we were free to dawdle out by the lake on the scenic way to Fussach and Hochst.

Paved bike paths and narrow, little used roads are everywhere in this region, and contribute mightily to cycling here.

Not only the Rhein but a couple of other rivers and branches enter the lake here. This is the Bregenzer Ache, which is the main river of the Bregenzer Wald, the forest behind the town,
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The mountains are always present to the South.
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Typical small road/bike path entry to Fussach.
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The Fussach church has one of those iconic Austrian steeples.
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This is a typical village house. It is plain but totally solid, and could probably stand for centuries.
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We found Bernie and Delia enjoying the sun out behind the house. Temperatures were higher at mid day today than they have been for a long time.  We wheeled our bikes around, also enjoyed the sun while doing our favourite activity, fooling with the bikes. In time we all piled into the car and drove all the way back to the centre of Bregenz. That is the location of the "Goldener Hirsch", the guest house where Bernie and Delia wanted to take us for a traditional meal.

"Goldener Hirsch"  (Golden Stag) is one of a set of names that you see on restaurants and hotels everywhere. It joins the Adlers, Leuvens, Wilder Mans, Traubes, Engels, and Mohrens, and Posts. (Eagles, lions, woodsmen, grape vines, angels, (controversially,  but not pejoratively) negroes or moors, and mail stage posts.). Dodie and I are suckers for places with these names. For example, other things being equal, a  Hotel Blau Traube  will always get our booking.

A goldener Hirsch
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The building housing the restaurant had a heritage status, and could not be changed, but we know nothing of its past history.

Historic Goldener Hirsch building
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Inside featured a lot of paneling and stained glass, making for a warm and inviting atmosphere.

Beamed ceiling and panelling
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Inside the Goldener Hirsch
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Bernie chose the most appropriate - deer stew, while the two ladies went with versions of spatzle, which is a kind of pasta. Driven as always by some kind of crazy self imposed rules, I figured my first restaurant meal in Austria must be schnitzel. It was good, but not as special as the others.

Deer stew at the Golden Stag.
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I also chose my goto drink - Alm Dudler, which is a very popular soft drink found only in Austria. It has a sort of herb-y flavour. Delia's drink was beer, a local brand called  Mohren Brau.

Choice local beverages. Mohen Brau insists no slur intended.
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Thanks, Delia and Bernie
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Marvin PaxmanIt is good to see their faces, wish we could be there for a visit!
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3 months ago

Delia had another stop up her sleeve, back in Hochst. This was the Cafe Konditorei Schallert, just this side of the Swiss border. Schallert has quality eis (ice cream concoctions) but I was immediately attracted to their pastry display case, which had some items that were very torte-like, but importantly- cakes actually labelled Sacher Torte. Somehow I struck up a conversation with the lady standing next to me, and we both reminisced about times in the Sacher hotels, in Salzburg and Vienna. We also both agreed that the torte there was small and overpriced. The lady pointed out some loaf like Sachers here, and suggested I could snap one up relatively cheaply. I also asked her what is now my pet question - as to whether the other cakes were properly tortes, or would they need to contain nut based flour? The lady quickly joined the masses certain that torte status was conferred by lots of layers and lots of cream between. This answer carried some weight, since this was a genuine Austrian granny type, but for me the jury is still out. I think I am waiting to talk to the people at Gerstner, in Vienna, assuming they do not throw me out of the bakery (unauthorized photos!), like last time.

Sacher Torte by the loaf?
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Other torte candidates.
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I went for a standard Sacher slice, quite large by all standards. Here is what it was like:

Back at Bernie's place we got to meet his sister Magdalene, who was thoroughly sweet and charming. She lives in this village too, and I think that Bernie's brothers also are nearby. It's not surprising that they would remain in their birth region, since this place essentially has everything. 

I was particularly impressed by Magdalene's shiny new T-6 VW van, and she had to listen to a lot of moaning about how these are not imported to Canada. She volunteered to buy one,  drive it to Canada to visit us, and leave it. But this would be a plan for after retirement. Unfortunately for us, she looked awfully young.

One last notable thing on our visit to Hochst was Bernie's woodpile. Elsewhere in Austria we have run into very artistic wood stacking. I remember one using different colours of firewood to install a deer on the pile. Bernie is not quite an artist in firewood, but you can see this national trait in his stack:

This cedar is carefully wedged. The wood itself is from a seedling Bernie brought from Canada.
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A bit of art in the pile
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Yes, it's a maple leaf
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Thanks for everything, Delia and Bernie!
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Today's ride: 29 km (18 miles)
Total: 41 km (25 miles)

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