|04-17-2013, 02:52 AM||#1|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Austria, Slovakia, Volcanos and Badger Butts
Volcanos, a Motorcycle and a Badger’s Butt; A Biologist's Ride
The best motorcycle trip reports generally start with a rider and a motorcycle. I have half of that combo but come Thursday morning I will subway, train and walk to an area of Southwest Vienna, Austria (They call it Wein) to rent a bike in a transitional area near the light industrial zone. This is not in the upper class shopping area where I am ensconced on someone else's expense account for work. The plan is to get into some wilder, remoter areas of Austria such as the Wild Alps, see some country and wildlife.
I am in Austria 7-17 April for a scientific conference and a week eating other people’s nice food and staying at decent hotels. This will be followed by a step-down in accommodation meaning eating roadside food of my own foraging, staying at hostels and motorcycling around the Austrian Alps.
Which of the two following photos looks like the most fun?
I vote for week 2. Still, some funny stuff going on at that meeting.
I am also a long term member of the CBOA (Cheap Bastards of America). Oh, I suppose I can afford nicer hotels but I would rather camp or hostel and put the savings toward my children's education fund, or my next bike.
So I like to buy and prepare my own meals sometimes:
These are TRUE Vienna sausages and you know what? The US Hormel version got it right regarding the flavor. They taste exactly like the ones that come out of the KY Jelly stuff. You remember, the ones with the ripped off lid that threatens to cut your fingers off as you extract their miserable little flaccid, skinless tubelets of livery meat with just enough end protrusion to resemble a circumcision event. Is it any wonder “weiner” has so many implications in English? How the hell do they get them in there in the first place and of what are they not made? Oh, I expect lips, noses, udders and testicles but dayam . . . that jelly goo- what part of a cow pig or chicken produces THAT stuff?
The crackers shown here are called Knackerbrot Kase & Kurbiskern which I interpret to mean “Roofing shingles infused with pumpkin seeds, sticks, small pebbles then embedded into cheese burnt to a Rockwell hardness of 68. These things are designed for motorcycling and won’t break in a violent high-side onto soft luggage. I think the Germans sent them to Austria figuring the Rotax boys could make valve guides out of them. I am gnarwing on one as I type and I fear the neighboring room is going to complain to the front desk about someone taking a ball peen to the bathroom tiles.
The Viennese are a highly sophisticated, cultured, and well-heeled crowd. Reigning in my CBOA motorcycle trip tendencies, I observe that a $6.00 cup of coffee and $5.50 per gallon gas require some adjustment and planning. The profit margins have an interesting specialization effect on the shops; I window-shopped and found stores that exclusively sold pop-up cards, leather clothing, a Justin Bieber store, a store that sold nothing but protein supplements, another leather clothing store (hmmm . . .), a tiny shop that sold only grooming devices like Czech handcrafted combs made of horn, boar-bristle hair brushes, 29 Euro nail clippers (!). I might have paide 29 Euro for something called a Nagelzwipper but not for a flippin' toenail clipper. Gimme a break!
There was also some wildlife parts; a genuine 139 Euro badger-hair shaving brush but then again, how much would YOU charge to pluck a badger? I could rent this bike for two measly pairs of toenail clippers per day or 3.5 shaving brushes per week.
Hey, I am on vacation! I am [soon to be] on a bike wandering aimlessly through the northern foothills of the Alps! A good friend and avowed atheist contends " The purpose of life is to collect good stories". I would leave the door open for more existential dimensions of meaning but he has a good start.
However,I have 3 more days of sitting through conference presentations about volcano plumes, climate change effects on deep sea brine currents, carbon cycling, plate tectonics, glacier calving into the ocean and some peatland management (my part). The droning on of nervous engineers makes me want to bite the back of my own neck! . .Why can't these people learn how to engage an audience? The content is there, the delivery sucks.
There are 13,500 people at this one conference, they have their own newspaper, 11,000 talks, wireless (hey hey hey.. . ), photo contest and with a nod to the Germanic appreciation of lower gastronomic products, a museum display of petrified poop.
Did I mention this crowd was a little different?
There was an infinitude of virtual pocket protectors but also a fair share of the dreadlock crowd. Of course they probably think me a pinko socialist because I gave two talks about policy and oil sands reclamation. I also chaired a session, served as a judge of some student posters and went out to eat with the VP and a few big wigs.
This convention is well . . . so conventional. I am adopting the conventions and conforming as best I can but I am not all that a conventional thinker so I find it tiring. It is not really my field either.
I wandered around Vienna by subway, train and bus for free and stumbled into a Steyr festival with dozens of guys with leather pants, accordions, Fraulein in poofy skirts, dozens of wine stands, sausage makers etc. Badger tails were everywhere in men’s hats too.
One for the girls, or whomever likes this sort of thing -
Let me say, I speak essentially no German and the websites and operation was not very English-oriented suggesting this place is for the locals mostly, but we got by. Only later did I discover that I can click a switch and translate the web materials. Nice.
Language. Being here is humbling and humorous. I botch all the names, people laugh and my coarse literal translations get me in trouble.
OK, going to post this and add when I get a chance later. There really is some nice mountain riding coming up and even a little offroad illegal.
|04-17-2013, 03:18 AM||#2|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
On Language. Being here is humbling and humorous. I botch all the names, people laugh and my coarse literal translations get me in trouble. The literal translations I see
I am sure this is how the neighbors refer to the family next door, it is “THEM” said with raised eyebrows.
I have figured out that “Die” means “The” and is not a death exhortation against cameras, Laundromats, subways and massage parlors.
So, this beautiful cemetary would properly be called "Die cemetery" right? What else are we supposed to do there? Remember the old joke - Do you know how many dead people are in that cemetery? . . . wait for it . . .
All of them.
Understatement seems appropriate and I did eat a falafel wrap here and their advertising was not false.
I got very excited over the chance to eat ostrich meat and thought MacDonalds here very progressive:
As I routed my trip I made sure to avoid both of these places:
It is humbling too as I can appreciate how illiterate folks can get by but only with a struggle. It requires be observant, cautious and sometimes making goofy mistakes. Easy to order that big steak for cheap only to discover the fine print that it was 3 euros per 100 grams. As a motorcyclist I also worry just a little bit about highly specialized road instruction signs. Instincts baby, instincts! While walking the streets I have been watching and mentally practicing riding behavior.
I recall the traveling through a tiny town in Mexico and puzzling out loud to my travel companion " What the hell is an ante-tope warning?” thinking it to be some sort of hooved mammal typo. About that time we hit the roof of the cab as we bashed a speed dip designed to channel flash flood water away from houses. That simple non-translation would have been ugly on a bike and I actually do speak rough Spanish.
Finding a bike in Vienna was not particularly easy. BMW Wein will rent me a BMW F800 with panniers for $160 euros ($210 US or Canadian) per day. A few of the contributors to the Advrider motorcycle site with names like Seppo and Catweasel (you would trust they eh?) suggested I check with and Gebrachtbikes (http:/www:gebrachtbikes.at/motorradverleih.php) in Vienna and even volunteered to translate for me.
A quick subway trip to the end of the red line U1 had me chatting with the owner and reserving a V-Strom 650 for a week at 65 Euros per day, about half of the BMW going rate. Fine by me. I have a plenty nice BMW R12 GS at home so riding a little stranger bike – about as much “strange” as an old married man is up for these days - will be a nice change of pace. Of the 40 bikes at the store there were 8 rentals, mostly naked bikes, but since it is April and until yesterday, was frosting at night, I opted for the only bike with a small windshield, hence the Wee-Strom. Oh yes, they throw in comprehensive coverage too.
Thomas, a young guy who may be the owner’s son (?) was really helpful with setting up the paperwork, insurance, cleaning the bike (didn’t need it as it is brand new) going over the oddball electronics with me, warning me about the new and greasy tires (more on that later!) and wishing me well. Very nice, very professional. I am impressed thus far.
More on the bike and riding later but this thread is getting long in the tooth without a bike shot so here is my rental unit with 1 km on the odometer: Parked outside the hostel I rented (they don’t call them “youth” hostels anymore since so many of the users have sort of grown up.
Die Bike - I don't like the ring of that.
The stock V-Strom 650 is sort of the everyman’s bike; the Chevy Impala of compromise road-oriented bikes; the peanut butter and jelly of lunch sacks; the . . . you get the idea. They have tuned in a nice v-twin rumble that sounds like an anemic Ducati too
OK, I moved over to the Hostel. Not like my early hostel experiences in New Orleans where the air stayed blue with dagga smoke, a 24-hour debauch rolled on at the fringes of Mid-town. The place was called “The Swamp” was only $6 per night, had a rope and scrap lumber deck that over-arched a mucky pond that CONTAINED A PET ALLIGATOR. It had a certain bed bug ambiance. It was well located though for good, Bohemian living with cheap eats and entertainment close by such as the Rock & Bowl – a joint where you could have a few beers, dance, hear great music, and bowl a few rounds in the same location. Cultural multi-tasking. I saw Boozoo Chavez and the Zydeco Cha Chas there some years ago.
Hurricane Katrina would have floated the alligator out and did a lot of damage there., possibly improved that neighborhood.
My move to the Hostel came at just the right time. Of course the doe-eyed Greek beauty that checked me in looked at my coat and tie, grey beard and sort of wondered why I was looking for cheap lodging. I bought a little street cred though when I asked for a locker in which to stash my motorcycle gear in back at it so things don't disappear on me.
Frostback screwed with this post 04-18-2013 at 05:13 AM
|04-17-2013, 05:23 AM||#5|
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Basel, Switzerland
You have an interesting way to look at things. I'm in.
Although, as a native german speaker, I'd have to correct you about 'die': it does mean 'the', but it's not always 'die'. It depends on the gender of the word. So it's 'der Friedhof' (Friedhof aka cemetery is masculine) and 'das Bike/Motorrad' (neuter). 'Die' is feminine or plural - so one could say 'die Amerikaner', which you would probably misunderstand.
And which places did you try to avoid? I get Wind-Passing (), but what's the other one?
|04-17-2013, 07:58 PM||#6|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
The city-wide slosh of tourists starting to change in Vienna. The 14,000 conference geeks are being replaced with 41,000 runners and of course, there are also their families, support teams etc. for the Vienna marathon on 13/14 April. Undoubtedly the mood on the street will be a nervous, early to bed, careful diet crowd until the race then it will be a crowd of aerobically partying thin people and the night sports may be a little more robust. Weather permitting, I will have departed town by then and should be winding my way through central Austria.
Holy crap - I just heard about the Boston Marathon explosions. That is rough.
Today I took a short 150 km warm up loop down to Baden and up into the hills to see forestry operations, recreation camps, even a “Spirit Camp with a ropes course and teepees. I had been warned that the Austrio-Germanic culture loves their Native Americans. It is almost a cult produced by an early set of books by a German writer named Karl May. Of course they were totally fabricated in the Grey Owl mold but they captured the fancy and started a tradition that persists as most 12 year old German Boys want to be Winnetou or old Shatterhand characters. I see this Indian fascination and actual knowledge all over my travels here. For example:
A funny thing happened on the bike. I pulled onto a deserted, clean pavement road, gassed it up in second gear and felt the back end slide out. Instinct took over and a quick countersteer put things straight but this bike does not have the power to do that so I stopped and looked and sure enough, it was the newness of the rear tire and showed the distinctive slide marks on the side edge of the tread. Rookie mistake.
I am looking now to slowly scrub these suckers in. I also found that after 5 hours of nearly non-stop towns, traffic, stoplights, my clutch hand showed some mild tendon soreness, a new phenomenon for me.
Sometimes you see a bike and you just want to know the story behind it. This old Captain America Yamaha Tenere was just sitting there rusting and it had been there a long time. Vines growing up the spokes from last year, no scratches on the body, wedged in between non-running cars in the parking lot.
Vienna is a bit schizoid for motorcyclists. First, they are supportive, allowing us to park free anywhere so long as we don’t occupy a full car slot; 2-strokes are common and OK, and today after 4 days, I saw, rather heard, my first Harley. Clearly a different complexion to the European riders. The downside is mostly logistical in that cobblestone still pops up in towns and it is old, polished and an uncertain surface on which to ride.
The public transit system here often employs a lot of surface rail trains that share roadways with cars and bikes so edge-traps abound for two wheelers.
Finally, being energy efficient and having dwellings stacked 5 stories high throughout the city means that there are a lot of darkened city streets which is an adjustment for night riding. All of this is overwhelmingly minimized by the awareness and lack of animosity that car drivers here seem to have for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Very refreshing.
The Advrider site is a goldmine once again. Josef (Seppo) lives about 75 km west of Vienna, he is busy farming but has e-mailed me great routes and will meet me for a beer after work to show me where the really good roads reside. Local knowledge, can’t beat it.
Here he is on the left at the bar getting paid back in ADV bucks for his intel. He didn't seem to mind that I was the same age as his dad.
He also turned me on to some greatl riding roads at about 50 km distance from town and “Cold Kitchen” that is a biker destination/hangout akin to Alices restaurant or the Skyline Drive restaurant. Apparently full of “Pirates and posters” according to my intel. Can’t wait to see what drags up. I am guessing a bunch of clip-ons, rat bikes, Big GS’s, Super Teneres, and some custom scoots which seem to be a growing fad here. Incidentally, scooters make a lot of sense if one is well off the main public transit line here in towns where parking is free, gas expensive, weather moderate and distances not too great.
Off and riding now. The roads are wet, still have winter gravel in patches, snow melts across the road in the hairpins. Lets face it, it would be treacherous for fast transit sport riding. I am concentrating on being smooth and trying to get the turns perfectly executed in the upper 1/3 of what is safe. It has its own satisfactions. There is no traffic and the twisty curvy road out of Pieste has high camber tight radius turns with woodlands, rock falls and little deer stands overlooking fields, sometimes with shooting lanes over the road. That would be a rude awakening to have a 7.2 x 69 rifle roar over your helmet.
There are the usual deer warning signs and some specifically geared to motorcyclists
I can’t read the words but the message is clear.
But there are also some warning signs for Kroten? WTF? I was not sure what Kroten actually were, but with a name like that, I knew if I ran over one, I wanted to be sure it was dead. Finally the dreaded kroten was accompanied by an illustration – kroten are frogs. I stopped to look at one and it was actually a toad and indeed there were plenty of them along the river road. Well, mostly former frogs. This is the time of year kroken come out onto the road to act like more developed animals like chickens. Unfortunately, playing chicken with motor vehicles yields numerous kroten splats. Did you know that a kroken shaped like an frisbee is surprisingly slippery? I felt a distinct front tire krotensplatt slide at one point.
Home and Jet lagged now. More later as I sort pix.
|04-18-2013, 04:45 AM||#7|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
I would have said this is backwoods, redneck Austria, the kind of lowbrow place where the restaurants use silver plate cutlery and cotton napkins instead of silverware and pressed linen as they should. This is a VEEERy civilized country. Everything is neat, orderly with spruce little hedges and pin-right farmhouses, neat-stacked ricks of firewood and close-pruned trees throughout the forest. Man’s hand is heavy even in the woodland hillsides where trees are pruned up 4 meters and the limbs are raked into piles for pickup. People have a tremendous amount of pride in their holdings. I learned that many if not most farms have been in the same family for centuries. I kept smelling manure but saw no livestock then it dawned on me there were no fences either. They house their pigs and cattle inside, seemingly year round.
First stop is Kate Kuche or in English “Cold Kitchen” (In Alabama they would certainly say Kold Kitchen). I am early, the first biker here at a regionally famous bike hangout. These happy Viennese guys try to get me to order sausage and sauce but I have just had a giant pastry with some nasty hot yellow spooge poured over it which turned out to be warm vanilla sauce. The coffee with whipped cream washed it down well.
Maybe I am overly punctual but I was the only bike in the parking lot. There were more tractors around than bikes. Some biker joint – oh, it is only 9:30 AM. Some guys and gals did roll in while I ate.
The badger tail does not look like something I want to rub around on my face or stick in my hat. I also happen to know that the European badger called Druk I think in German, is a mustelid relative of skunks and have foul anal scent glands. Who thought this badger butt fetish up anyway?
Time to get back on the road. It is warming up and I can see blue sky. If I stay much longer I will have to have wiener and sauce like these bikers are pushing me to eat. Thus far, every one of the bikers is hefty and I suspect that in the absence of Harleys here, the big boys are opting for large Hondas. Whatever turns one’s crank. I haven’t really seen the posers I was warned about. All the riders I meet seem like serious, well-equipped sport riders on things like BMW K1200s, Honda Varadaros, and Triumph Speed Triples. Lots of leather being worn too.
This morning has been fun and rather demanding riding. Dodging or waiting out intermittent rain and snow showers, wet roads with very twisty going, some gravel, uncontrolled access, narrow roads and just a little traffic but that varies from diesel belching busses to very fast cars. There are abundant interesting places to just stop and wait a bit. Coffee is ubiquitous.
I even ducked into this famous (famous as in a couple of POPEs have stopped in here) cathedral in Mariazell for about 2/3 of a mass.
Catholicism clearly is a dominant influence here and the people seem friendly, respectful and maybe not so holy. Spring is in the air and the young men and women are in full rut, hanging on each other and alternately crawling up each other’s legs. This is not a sexually repressed culture. For example, one TV game shows started with the girls topless then as they lost points, they lost clothes from there. Never see that sort of thing on public TV in Canada, but damn do we have some abject violence in our shoot-em-ups that would never fly here. The taboos each country weaves through their populace is reflected in behavior. Frankly, I’d trade some TV killing for a little skin and feel like I got the better end of the bargain. Not sure how I got from snow to pope to sex in that last paragraph.
Missed a turn and took a long ride up a pretty river valley where I came across this Highland steer,
or maybe it is a countersteer as he looks lovingly at my bike.
and a pair of Mute Swans. They are a nuisance invader in North America but are at home and belong here. Apparently they are fairly ferocious nest defenders and can even break a child’s arm with a strong whack of their wing wrist. I would still approach them in full bike gear though.
Contrary to the North American meaning of “no Wang allowed” this actually means you are leaving Wang
Maybe is it a language thing but sometimes words just strike me as funny. When I saw this sign I wondered what it would be like to live in Mank or for that matter Wang? Locals won’t hear it but I bet they laugh at our Bunkies and Natchitoches too.
I can just imagine Peter Sellers in the Pink Panther calling the residents of Mank "Mankees".
Is this rampant creativity? If so, I think they stole it from this guy. I checked the other side of his sign to see if it was different, Bet you can guess what I got . . .
|04-18-2013, 05:09 AM||#8|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
While riding at sunset I saw a huge shadow cross over the road. It made me feel like a mouse under a hawk's shadow, then this balloon settled into the field right next to the road. 9 km from Wieselburg. Awesome.
Got into town, found the Top Motel Josef had suggested. 39 Euros, not bad. Interestingly, it is a self-service motel. There was NOBODY here, just a credit card machine that took my money and produced a magnetic card with my room code on it. The lights in the hall are motion activated too. Weird.
I had a message waiting from Josef he even volunteered to pick me up in this large metal box on four wheels and take us out to eat. What a gracious host and I can assure you his English is a HELLA lot better than my German! It did strike me as odd that he has a bit of that Italian/Austrian national competition yet rides a Ducati, eats pizza and says he ends up on vacation in Italy quite regularly. What is not to like?
Here is Josef and his cute friend Anna. I think I wore them out with my quizzing about local politics, land use, history, naming conventions, genealogy, motorcycles and travel. He is doing his best imitation of that Highland Steer I showed earlier.
I need to hit Josef up for a farm tour. They have a cool operation it sounds like.
Here we toast to a better photo of my host.
We poured over the map and lined out a bunch of great little secret roads in the region. It is as if there are little Dragon tails all over this country. This is the paper map to have for Austria riding BTW:
I learned one interesting thing – it is illegal to ride my motorcycle on gravel roads in Austria. They are private and I would be trespassing. I did that today and as Farmer Brown’s mongo dog tried to line up on my leg, I hauled booty up a gravel road that turned into a two track, literally, with two strips of pavement for each tractor tire going up a steep hill. That necessitated turning around in the field and racing back through the fire swamp with the rat dog waiting for me.
Later I was riding on a gravel road that should have connected over a pass to get back to pavement. It actually showed on the map too. After I rode through the snow a while it opened up in this alpine meadow with signs for hikers. Ooops, I was dirtbiking the V-strom on a hiking trail! I turned around and slunk back down the trail under the stares of some woodcutters.
Up late and riding to the north of the Danube to a big plateau in the woodland district. Wow, spring has not come there yet. It was 1000 feet higher and snowy and cold. Big managed forests and lots of grit on the roads. Having skipped breakfast I stopped in at a ski lodge called the Wsomething Schnitzel
and ordered the . . . schnitzel – Duh! There were lots of local families eating lunch after church. Language was a problem (a good sign) and the waitress brought me what looked like espresso with a shot of mineral water and heavy cream on the side. Hmmmm. I drank them all. The table next to me broke up laughing when I did a shot of mineral water. Apparently it goes in the coffee to dilute it.
The schnitzel is an act of terror really. First one separates a baby cow from its mother, then they feed it an iron-poor diet to make the meat white, then they kill it, then they butcher it, then they pound the meat (I heard this part) then batter it in the same grain they denied the calf, then they fry it, then I cut it and chew it. And you know what? Joy comes of this.
Unfortunately, those little calves are a byproduct of the milk industry. Milk cows must be p regnant and they yield, of necessity, calves and milk. We get the milk and the calf is going down one way or another. For us to live, something else must die . . . every day.
Veal reminded me of the human carcasses I had just visited in the Vienna museum, that travelling exhibit of freeze dried, skinless people in the acts of ski-jumping, ballet, and even coitus. That was interesting and with humor, he had crossed the receiving lady’s eyes! I digress though. Each of these people had willingly given their bodies to science and something good and worthwhile came of their death. That little bummer veal calf brought some joy to the world too and I appreciated it.
So, I have deduced that “burg” means castle over here. Not so in the US apparently but we don’t have many castles. One cannot swing a dead cat here without it hitting a castle. Some are in ruins like this one
Back in Vienna, the buildings are not slouch either. A plate of Spetzle, a street party underway with the Rathaus in the background.
|04-19-2013, 09:20 AM||#9|
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Karlsruhe, Germany
Glad to see that you enjoyed your trip. It's definitely a treat to read. (I may be the only one who'd be interested to hear more about the days before you rented the bike, though .... )
|04-19-2013, 10:03 AM||#10|
I'd rather be riding
Joined: Oct 2005
Whenever we are riding, we are an ambassador to our sport
I'd rather be riding!
|04-18-2013, 07:14 AM||#12|
Gnarly Poolside Adv.
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Darnestown, MD
Fly & Work & Rent & Ride
This sounds like a great way to combine business & pleasure, looking forward to the next installment!
|04-18-2013, 09:22 PM||#13|
Joined: Sep 2007
Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Today I headed to the northeastern corner of Austria since the weather is great and I want to try burning the autobahn. The bike is amazingly stable at high speeds. Now that it has been gently broken in with over 1000 km on it I don’t mind winding it up a bit. I lurked around at 140 kph until a couple of Audi’s blurred past at some obscene speed, which I was soon to find out was beyond me, and ran up to 175 kph. It has a little left in it but not much. The Audi’s continued to move off and I had to wait for a more moderate rabbit, which soon appeared and I stayed with him for about 40 minutes at 185 KPH and 7600 RPM if I recall. Not a lot of noticeable increase in hand buzz either. There are no photos of this as I had my hands full. Thankfully, no photo radar either.
This engine impresses me. Not as smooth or powerful as my BMW at home but plenty there. It is happy between 3800 and 6000 RPM so who the heck put a 10,000 RPM redline on it? Nobody could stand to get it up there without shifting but I guess it is nice to know the valves won’t float or the pistons erupt if you wind it up. It sounds a lot like my dad’s old water cooled Honda V-twin CX-650. Not surprising I guess.
Just across the border into Bratslavia were a line of huge duty-free stores alternating with whore houses. It seems border towns are the same everywhere when a rich country abuts a poorer one. They advertise 24 hour service but 1:30 on a Monday afternoon? Come on. I waved at a gaggle of working girls smoking in the alley behind Moulin Rouge’s as I was shortcutting to the vineyard overlook. They waved and shouted something in Bavcezkosobodiviskian but between my ear plugs and wind noise I missed it. I just waved and gassed it. I should have stopped to talk and take a photo but between language and them trying to make a living, nobody would come out a winner. Pimps lurk I presume.
This place is an exercise in contrasts. Ancient cobblestone streets next to fields of solar panels and behind me were brick earthen bunkers where workers lived.
The vineyards are indeed high tech though with drip irrigation and meteorological stations and giant stainless steel accumulator vats. Naomi would probably like the wine tour in late summer.
One minute you admiring an old castle and the next you are admiring a Crossbow race car. Apparently one of the designers was a motorcycle designer first then did this car. They are supposed to be a ton of fun too.
Somewhere near Leobedorf I saw this castle on the hillside. Clearly a movie set eh? I found the road up to it and sure enough, a big Rock castle. No moat though.
It looks like they either have a statue of a man wearing Ray Ban sunglasses holding a golden eagle or they have eagle flights, which I would like to see.
The countryside churches are all impressive. They make our stylish but diminutive Russian Orthodox steeples pale in comparison. Of course, they have had 15 times as long as us to get it right.
The vacant twisty roads are both a mental, physical and relaxation treat. Here notice Ms. Frostback, I am wearing all the gear all the time, even when lying down on the roadside for a snooze.
I wandered back town to Tulln, a small town on the Danube, where I found Renate’s 39 Euro Pensione. She is a spectacularly busy 58 year old woman running her own business, former town councillor, solo now that her husband of 35 years R-U-N-N-O-F-T with a 1.5 meter tall Vietnamese woman 29 years old. Can you say sugar cane daddy? Oh the injustice. She is still steamed but it is over. So she plays tennis 2 hours per day and fools with her garden. She wanted to go to Vienna with me and show me the sights but there was no extra helmet and not enough time to get back (thankfully!) .
I retired upstairs to a giant room with two double beds to watch the Boston bombing marathon. Lucked into a replay of the opening round of the MotoGP race last week – the Europeans take their motorsports seriously – and vegged out while updating my journal. I had my own bathroom but it was down the hall. I got a laugh out of this pasted on the inside of the toilet lid. I didn’t follow the rules though.
The breakfast at the Pension was impressive. Notice there is only one plate? That is ALL FOR ME! I am afraid I disappointed her.
Wound my way back to Gerbrauchtbikes – which was hell because the main access streets were closed to vehicles and were only for rail cars (I surmised this by the lack of traffic other than me and the rail cars as I ran down the smooth 1-m wide cement strip between the tracks). I caught the train back to the Hostel Ruthensteiner .
Lunch practice I can now say “Vienner mit saft” Then eat it.
I call this one – “Still life with Weiner” - It should have some fruit in there but clearly, the Austrians don’t eat fruit, they drink it.
Tonight at the hostel while trying to get my trip report together, an overweight, self-appointed German yoga and meditation specialist named Eigen invited himself to my table. He wanted to talk about chakras, energy fields- hey, his cats feel them!- then he proceeded to eat half of my homemade soup. Now he is on to talking about how he made his money in selling virtual islands on the internet where people can go live vicariously in Second Life to experience their wildest fantasies. He is down on materialism (predictable) yet he made his early money teaching people how to sell vacuum cleaners. Now he is off talking about Ofid chips (?) and Obama’s plan to get people implanted with these chips. Oh man, the Hostel has not disappointed. I thought I had flashed back to 1969. The happy hour is starting to roll in the bar. It has almost driven me to drink. Here is Eigen with the heart Chakra symbol. I think the Stomach Chakra would fit him better.
Can you feel his energy field? I wish I could have plugged my computer into it.
I had made a pot of leek, parsnip, turnip and carrot soup and grilled a couple of brats to go with my 2 baguettes, all purchased at the grocery around the corner and cooked on the fire in the courtyard. Cheap and healthy and almost like camping.
I almost spat the fat brat out in the dark until Eigen explained it was Kasa Kermulein (?) or cheese-filled brats. Mildly disgusting but tasty once you get over the concept. It didn’t slow Eigen down, he was not a vegan spiritualist, he was the original freegan with an entitled attitude. No wonder he can live on his earnings. He is a flipping mooch!
I have de-splurgd and moved to the $15 per night rooms with 4 other guys. I just realized, I have ear plugs and they don’t. Let the snore-fest begin!
Up early to catch a plane tomorrow so I better sign off for good now.
Lee 16 April 2013, Vienna, Austria.
|04-19-2013, 05:35 AM||#14|
Joined: Jun 2011
Excellent report. I really like your witty writing style. Ironically, I was in just in Wien last weekend, too. Watched some of the race from by the Opera House then moved down to the Rathaus and got a plate of spetzle just like you have pictured. Heck, it was probably from the same vendor.
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