Friday, September 29, 2006

"Mr. Phillips, I presume?" (Part 1 of 2).

Our final destination, Vienna, was within an easy morning’s ride on Saturday, September 9, as the three remaining beercyclists (Bob, Kevin and your truly) assembled for breakfast following an enjoyable Friday evening in Tulln, a small and lively city on the banks of the Danube northwest of the Austrian capital.

What happened to the half-dozen original beercycling plotters?

Unfortunately, Tim Eads had been unable to make the trip, reducing the group to five from the outset. Later, having already bicycled the Greenway on a previous trip, our friend Craig Somers elected to fly from Prague to Belgium for an ale-based conclusion of his European holiday.

After a post-Tabor detour to Ceske Budjovice and Cesky Krumlov, Graham Phillips arrived on schedule in Znojmo along with Bob, but decided to proceed early to Vienna (and afterward, to Belgium) by train rather than spend the originally scheduled two nights in Havraniky at the Pension Ham-Ham with the rest of us.

That left a still hearty trio, and after a combined bicycle and train ride from Havraniky to Tulln on Friday, we were overjoyed to find a pleasant weekend wine festival in progress that same evening. After clinking and sampling a few local examples of the vintner’s art, we accidentally stumbled upon a very small brewpub, Adlerbrau, and had soft, golden house lagers and three heaping platters of regional cuisine to finish off the excellent late summer’s day.

On Saturday morning we rode one hundred meters to the river and picked up the long-established Danube bike path, a veritable superhighway of the genre, cruising 40 flat kilometers into Vienna with only one ferry boat ride required. Rooming arrangements were readily made, and by mid-afternoon, we were ready for a beer … perhaps even two.

From our lodgings off Alsterstrasse near the Rathaus, we walked along the majestic Ringstrasse toward Vienna’s famous Opera House. The object of our stroll was the 1516 Brewing Company, which I dimly recalled from a previous visit in 2002 as being located somewhere in the vicinity of the Soviet war memorial, but still “inside” the Ring.

Just off the crowded Karnterstrasse shopping street, I noticed a sign for the Crossfields Australian Pub, and as is my habit, speculated in an admittedly patronizing way as to precisely the sort of tourist who’d travel all the way to Vienna just to have a beer in a theme bar of the genre – and glancing inside, I spotted the answer to my question sitting right in front of me.


Well, of course; it made sense. Graham had traveled in Australia, and had a wonderful time while touring the continent, so why wouldn’t he stop at an Aussie pub, converse with the Aussie staff, and enjoy fine memories?

But seeing as none of us had expected to see Graham again until we’d all returned home, the surprise reunion was spontaneously joyful and fairly raucous, and included a round of unfiltered Ottakringer Zwickl lager – and for me, given my reputation as finisher of Graham’s uneaten meals, the remainder of his fish and chips as scooped hungrily from a slightly greasy paper cone.

(Part 2 tomorrow)

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