Day 9: Mohringen to Sigmaringen - Grampies Track the Tortes (2019) - CycleBlaze

March 27, 2019

Day 9: Mohringen to Sigmaringen

The birthday cake conundrum

We were eager today to try out our slightly new thinking on breakfast rating. At La Cascina this morning, here is what we had to work with:

A 5.5 jammer?
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Keith Classen (10 Jammer originator) posted the following comments on the scale today:

This idea first came to me on our first bike trip to Europe when we were travelling up the Mosel. As i recall the original 10 jammer was an amazing “over the top” breakfast at a winery we were staying at. What stood out was that, in addition to an absolutely amazing spread, there were actually 10 varieties of jams provided... thus a “10 jammer”. A simple scale I thought to rate breakfasts. I think you and I are on the same page! In my mind there is no need to actually provide 10 jams to be a “10 jammer”. As you realize its all very subjective. The way I might approach it is by asking... okay this breakfast has everything one might possibly desire but what is it that it might lack ..... no croissants possibly might warrant a deduction of .5, providing only 2 flavors of yogurt a further deduction, limited meat or bread selection another deduction and certainly a limited variety of jams (or packaged jams) a further deduction. But I suspect, for you , the provision of tortes would likely warrant a generous plus adjustment to the scale depending of course .... on the quality. 

We agree with Keith's approach, and for La Cascina we both built up the rating, adding points for goods stuff, and subtracted down the rating - deduction for missing or bad items. Basically we had here packaged jam and yogurt, no fruit salad, ok - not super rolls, no soft cheeses, orange juice only,  and no coffee machine. On the other hand there was lots of meat and cheese, boiled eggs, croissants, and fresh kiwis.  This all brought us to 5.5. A standard French breakfast, by the way, rates a 1!

Remember you can choose a clearer map in the upper right corner.
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We started out today at 4 degrees, which is 2 below our theoretical minimum operating temperature. We put on most of our layers, and were still fairly chilly. A moderate oncoming breeze contributed to the wind chill. In the exuberance of Spring in Konstanz we had thrown away the chemical handwarmers carefully brought from Canada. I am the one whose hands really freeze, so I spent a lot of time with my hands under my shirt,  in my pants. Fortunately there were very few people on the path!

We made our way back through Tuttlingen, and just stuck to the Donau path, which runs through the middle of the city. From that position, there was nothing the town could do to either improve its reputation with us, or do anything untoward.

The first town out from Tuttlingen is Stetten. It's a suburb, notable for its nice solid houses. But we were interested in the bakery. This was not because we had become hungry, 6 km out from the 5.5 jammer breakfast, but we were freezing. We bought a nut bun but did not really eat it. Just shivered on the bench inside for a bit.

Stetten
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Sold suburban houses. But wilderness is coming.
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The civilisation of Tuttlingen does not extend far along the Donau valley. The fact quickly became clear that here in the upper Donau you are really in the mountains, as befits the source area of a major river. This is really the story of most of today's cycling. The general scene is of the river, small at first but growing, running through a moderately narrow valley bordered by tall chalk (?) cliffs.  The valley floor is green with pastures, so there is a continuous panorama of curving river, green swath, forested margins, occasional narrow bridges, and isolated picturesque farms. 

White cliffs and green valley
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An area that feels rather remote
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This really was a whole world, and one which we were not exactly expecting. It was easy to be immersed in it, and to think how doubly enjoyable it would be if we were not so cold!

The notion of a mountain world/ mountain retreat was much reinforced when we came to Beuron. Beuron is nestled in a hollow in the valley, and contains an amazing, very large, Augustinian monastery. Mountain, and monastery seems to go together. 

The monastery at Beuron
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We found our way into the monastery bookstore first. Aside from all sorts of books all in German, this had some typical monastic products - like herbal creams and elixers, liqueurs, and the one that caught out attention, chocolate. We bought a bar of "bitter orange", and were very impressed by its packaging, molding, and overall quality.

Quality chocolate!
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Next we found out way into the church, and wow. This was flat out as elaborate as any we have visited. It was just gorgeous, and had me wondering how humans could achieve such architecture and painting.

Amazing ceilings
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and floors
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This priest was very old. We spoke to him for a few seconds, but he had German only
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The monastery from another side
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We passed beyond Beuron, again observing how it really can be considered an isolated mountain place, and continued with this world of river, pasture, and cliffs. 

Eventually we realized that the valley was opening out, and signs indicated that we were drawing very close to Signmaringen. 1 km out we still saw nothing, and wondered how a large city was going to manage to appear that fast. Of course, it did do it, and it did it with a flourish. This took the form of Sigaringen castle, which is in the centre of town. It is huge, in fact, the largest in the Danube valley. This was the ancestral seat of the Princes of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, which is a family that provided some of the German emperors and kings. Today there are apparently tours, that include museum rooms of weapons and art.

The Sigmaringen castle
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The hotel that Dodie found is called the Traube (just like dozens of others in Germany). It is a super one - opposite the castle on one side and the rathaus on another. Made from fachwerk (half timber), it was built in 1722 but looks older. The house next door is from 1571!

Our hotel - the Traube
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Because reception only opened at 4:30, we had a chance to swarm around the relatively compact downtown. We quite quickly landed back at a cafe opposite the Traube. Read that a warm, heated, cafe! This one had something else, too. An officially labelled torte! They called it (understandably) a Hohenzollern torte. So naturally we gave it a try.

The Hohenzollern torte featured about five layers, comprising a base and alternating chocolate and white cake, separated by fairly thin cream layers. The icing top was firm chocolate, much like a Sacher. The main flavour of the whole thing was a pleasant liqueur. 

The Hohenzollern Torte
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I took the opportunity of harassing the waiter and the two ladies behind the display case for their definition of "torte", vs."cake".  The one lady ventured an interesting idea - that cake came from an oven, while torte did not. But this was clarified to get her meaning that with a cake you just bake it and you are done, while with a torte you have cream to put between baked layers, and clearly the cream is not baked. In the end, that means the lady was agreeing with the Polish bakery people - torte has layers of cream. When I asked if the cake layers had to be any special type of cake, they thought that was a dumb question. "Nut based flour?". They just stared at me. Ok, ok, but listen, does that make a chocolate birthday layer cake a "torte". I just can't answer yes, yet.

Our room at the Traube was again a small one, but efficient, with place for me to type without being in the way, and a goodly number of outlets. Only thing, they have a strange internet arrangement, and we failed to connect some our stuff, while the service kept dropping from the others. Consquently, I am typing this off line, and hoping to upload it and the photos after.

The view from our windows - castle on one side,
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and the Rathaus on the other.(It's the cream building with the statue on the corner.)
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And oh, the big advantage - the radiator works and I am sitting beside it!

Today's ride: 66 km (41 miles)
Total: 278 km (173 miles)

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Tricia GrahamAs far as German breakfasts are concerned for me there is one defining must. That is the perfectly cooked German boiled egg. Too often even when endless jams are provided ( I actually dislike jam) the eggs disappoint. Too often they are precooked and kept supposedly warm but by the time you get to eat them they are likely to be overlooked and getting cold. There are two solutions the best where the eggs are cooked individually for you or secondly one of those do it yourself machines. Of course there must also be a selection of fresh fruit, warm bread rolls, butter not in packets and plenty of good quality coffee
Enjoy your trip as I go off to boil an egg for breakfast
Tricia
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3 weeks ago
Sue PriceWith regards to breakfast, when we finally get over there, we will be comparing them to the amazing spreads we had in Cuba at the Casa Particulars - wonderful fresh fresh fruit and freshly made juice, omelettes done very well and of course, Cuban coffee. I will admit, their idea of toast is a bit odd - sliced baguette dried out in the oven, but they make up for it by supplying both meat and cheese enough for lunch later on, along with the extra fruit that cannot be consumed and all of this for $5 each!
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3 weeks ago
Keith ClassenSteve - you are depressing me. A jammer rating of just “1” for French breakfasts. We may have to change our route for our upcoming trip based on that.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Keith ClassenYou need to be aware that a typical French breakfast consists of a croissant, perhaps juice, coffee and maybe yogurt. More than that is exceptional. We usually just find the nearest bakery and load up.
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3 weeks ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Sue PriceThose Cuban breakdasts do sound yummy.
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3 weeks ago