July 20, 2011 - 7/15-16/2011 Vienna Prep *

Greetings.  The start of the Vienna-Istanbul Ottoman Empire Ride.  This prior post has details on the ride and riders.  This is just a bit of an intro… 

Annie (support) and Lisa (wife) came in two days early into Istanbul, rented a 9 passenger VW Caravelle van now known as “Babar”, and drove it to Istanbul.  Jorgen and Birgit (new friends via Tom and Millie) drove five hours in from Germany.  Millie and Tom (long time friends) flew in from Charlotte via Munich.  Nels (medium time friend and biking buddy from Sierra Club Foundation days) flew in from Chicago via Dusseldorf.  And I went DC – Vienna with a one stop in Frankfurt. 

We all made it on time, dropped off the bikes at the friendly TREK-Vienna bike shop for reassembly, regrouped and went out to dinner in a what surely once was a quaint wine producing village in the hills NNW of Vienna.  Here’s the first team shot…

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On the left, Jorgen.  In front, Millie and Nels.  In the back, Tom, Lisa, Bob, Birgit and Annie..
We all had traditional Austrian fare.  Think schnitzel and sausages.  Lisa inspects…

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And after the beers,  Jorgen/Birgitt picked out two great Austrian white wines and then a red.  Back home at 10 or so, we heard music coming from a nearby park… 

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Turns out it was a giant big-screen, hi-def symphony presented to grandstands in the park backed up by many temporary beer, wine and dessert places.  So we did some of that.  A late night that we promised never to repeat.

Saturday morning we picked up our bikes and took a waling tour of the city.  Here’s Jorgen, Tom and Millie in front of one of the uncountable numbers of imperial buildings. 

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It was kind of neat to be in the city while they were bidding farewell to last vestige of Austro-Hungarian empire – the funeral of 98 year old Otto von Habsburg.  While we didn’t attend the funeral, the news and controversy was all over the media…

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0718/1224300885440.html

Then, Jorgen and Birgit treated us for dinner at a famous Viennese restaurant, Plachutta.  That’s Tom waving from the front door. 

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A fascinating meal, served in the brass pans in which it was cooked, placed on astonishingly hot metal plates in the middle of the table.  Boiled beef is the specialty, and while it sounds weird to most Americans, to boil vs. grill or fry meat, done with the right cut the right way it seems like the right thing to do.

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I have lots of photos of the team at the dinner, available on request.  After dinner it was another back to the hotel by 11:30p for a 6:30 breakfast and 7:00 departure.  We promised once more to never party this hard this late…

Last note… I never really warmed up to Vienna like I thought I would.  Worth another visit, maybe go INSIDE a museum or palace or two….  but the place seems regal and impersonal.

Bob Wed Jul 20 4:18p Mohacs, Hungary

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