Sunday, May 06, 2007

Daytime beers are keen.

In the fall of 2007, my beercycling trio concluded a Friday spent peddling from the Czech border southward toward the Danube River. Just after lunch, we rode into a town with a railhead where we intended to board a train and sag into Tulln, situated to the south on the river, but first there was a matter of restorative food and beverage – a bowl of goulash, a beer and post-ride analysis.

We readily located tasty victuals at a local family-run restaurant. There was a friendly waitress willing to tolerate our halting attempts at speaking German, world news on the television and a warm, inviting atmosphere for stew and refreshment. As we ate, three schoolchildren stopped by the bar – for gargantuan ice cream sundaes, and no one batted an eye.

In America, a do-gooder would have called 9-11. Fortunately, we were in Europe.

We paid and rolled down the street to a smaller neighborhood tavern to kill a few more minutes before departure. It was called Rick’s, and the barflies were chatting, smoking and conversing. Sports coverage was on the tube. Two mudcaked workingmen were medicating, and while they may have been kicking back at the conclusion of a long day, I got the impression that their drinks may have constituted break time between ditches.

How many times have I witnessed and enjoyed such a tableau in what I consider my natural habitat, the corner watering hole?

When you’re a tourist, it is a blessing to experience complete detachment from the normal routine, and to have a beer when and where you like while observing the normal everyday routines of others. If the act requires another beer or even three, it doesn’t matter if the ensuing nap takes you through the afternoon.

I thought about these matters last week during the course of an afternoon stroll from my home into the downtown business district of New Albany, which slowly is reviving after a long, moribund period. My path took me past the Bistro New Albany at 2:30 p.m., as Chef Dave and Graham were on break, having a smoke, waiting for the eatery’s dinner reopening at five. I had a beer, and realized that not long ago the choice wouldn’t have been available. It felt better than fine to have just one, then resume the walk and pick up where I’d left off at home.

It felt like a real city for once. Now if we can do something about the death of the passenger train …

No comments: