Gokarna

I had been nagging Suraj to travel with me just one weekend for several weeks. We’d fought about not doing fun things on weekends. I’d blamed him for just sitting around at home in front of the TV under the pretext of getting work done. And he finally gave in and booked us on a bus to Gokarna. He had to cancel and rebook because the bus service decided they didn’t want to ply Bangalore-Gokarna that weekend. And one Saturday morning, in February (yep, I’m writing this one month short of a year after the trip!), we were there. The bus drops you off just at the entrance of the town, where you can see village folk selling vegetables and flowers. You can walk or take an auto-rickshaw to a beach of your choice, from here.

Gokarna has 6 beaches – the main beach (Gokarna Beach), Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Half-Moon Beach, Paradise Beach and Nirvana beach (which is further down and relatively unexplored).

Most tourists prefer Kudle and Om beach to stay at. And most rickshaw drivers drop you off at the south end of Kudle Beach or at Om Beach. It’s a quick hike down from your drop-off point to the beach. They take you on roads just around the actual village and charge you a couple of hundred rupees to get you to your beach, but our luck got us a fellow who took us right through the village and to the top of the north end of Kudle Beach.

The ride was one of a kind – through the by-lanes of the village and early enough in the morning for us to catch glimpses of a pujari on a moped making his way to the temple and women around the market just setting up their stalls. Over the course of the weekend, we convinced another rickshaw guy to take us down the village roads a few more times, so that we couls take a video and “explore” the non-beach parts of the village. What we saw early morning on that first ride though, was the best of the lot.

It’s a quick walk down through red mud from where the rickshaw drops you off, to Kudle beach. We hadn’t booked a place to say and were told that most people wing it, when they get to the beach.

IMG_20150221_085703~2

The first few shacks, at the foot of the hill, where it just opens up onto the beach looked liked they catered only to non-Indian folk. They have a hippie, white air about them, that almost puts you off. While I have nothing against hippies or white people, it’s the attitude of the owners/caretakers of these shacks that is just disheartening. Asking around the first few shacks should get you a basic room – some are as cheap as Rs200/- a night and are basically just a mattress in a mud hut, and a common bathroom. Others go up to Rs700/- or Rs800/- where you get a very basic room with a fan and an attached bathing area. Of course, taking a rickshaw to a proper hotel, for those who prefer a more comfortable holiday is always an option.

There isn’t very much to do around, really. You can hop around across beaches, hitch a boat ride to see some dolphins, chug a couple of beers and eat some seafood. Or then walk around the village and visit the numerous temples it has. Food isn’t exactly cheap. And options are limited. We didn’t venture into town to eat, assuming we’d get only vegetarian options. Though I have read that streets around the temples are the only ones that don’t serve meat. At the beach, food is inspired Italian/Lebanese/Viennese/American cuisine with some Punjabi flavours thrown in – butter garlic style squid, fish and prawns, gravy and rice, fries, hummus and a few varieties of terribly spelt pasta. They’re about Rs150/- to Rs200/- per dish, and eaters like Suraj and me end up shelling out about Rs1000/- per meal (for two, beers inclusive).

The main temple is the Mahabaleshwara temple built in honour of Lord Shiva. There is also another Shiva Temple called the Uma Maheshwara Temple. And a smaller temple for Lord Ganesh. Gokarna means Cow’s Ear (gau – cow, karn -ear) and it is believed that Lord Shiva emerged from the ear of a cow here.

The Mahabaleshwara Temple (maha – large, bal – strength) has two wooden chariots — Dodda Ratha and Sanna Ratha (dodda – large, sanna – small, ratha – chariot in Kannada) – that are decorated and brought out in a processions during Maha Shiv Ratri down Car Street (Ratha Biddi).

We were there the weekend of February 19th, just after Maha Shiv Ratri and got a chance to see both chariots, the larger of the two is usually brought out only for the procession.

Being a temple town, the hustle of foreign tourists over the past decade or so has suddenly led to strict policing every once in a while.

IMG_20150221_110831

Day 1, we settled down in our room and then head to check the beaches out. A quick hike (read: 30 minutes) over some rocky terrain brought us to Om beach. When you descend from Kudle towards Om, you can the beach in an inverted 3 shape, which when looked at from the Half Moon Beach side, looks like an Om. That’s where the beach has gotten it’s name from. The original name for the beach, however, is something entirely different.

We lunched at a cafe at the end of Om beach, it’s hard to miss. The beach, sort of turns at a point and there’s just one shack there. That’s Cafe Nirvana (or so Google tells me). But pictures of the place suggest that’s where we ate. We stuck to a couple of beers, some fried fish and some squid.

On our way out, we figured we weren’t all that enthusiastic to hike up and across Om Beach over to Half Moon Beach – partly because of the afternoon heat and partly because we could see construction along the hillside, resorts making way for what used to be paddy fields. Or well, may be because we found a guy in a boat right outside, willing to take us to Half Moon Beach and Paradise Beach and bring us back. A foreigner couple hopped into the boat with us, as well.

Half Moon Beach is a crescent shaped beach with no shacks or lodging, as far as I could tell from a few glances, and further out into the sea, beyond it, the boatman takes you to dolphin-watching. Suraj makes some classic dolphin sounds, so we mostly just made sounds and saw no dolphins. But the ride was pleasant.

Paradise Beach, a little further down, is a tiny patch of beach where you can see people with little camp-fire-esque set-ups, hammocks, hoola-hoops, graffiti and the sort.

IMG_20150221_135722

Even further down, is a really long stretch of white sand – Nirvana Beach. Going by what the boatman told us, people don’t visit it very much at all because it is fairly far from Gokarna and staying facilities – which is some ways, I think, is a good thing.

The boatman brought us back to Kudle beach where we settled in another shack, while the sun set, over another couple of beers and some Kudle Cake. Kudle Cake is a gastronomic delight, if I may call it that – layered biscuit, caramel and chocolate, frozen and served in little rectangles. It’s addictive. And for under Rs 100/- a piece, it’s bloody delicious.

With the sun going down, we saw people light little fires on the beach, sing songs and swirl little balls of light into the air.

IMG_20150222_185927

We head back and called it a day, with a plan to head into town the following morning. We woke up late and head to the climbed up the red mud path to the top of the Kudle Hill where we’d called a rickshawallah to drive us around town. I managed to get a decent video through the market and to the rathas. I do, however, miss the early morning sights from the previous day.

We noticed a lot of women with sarees draped – right around the body, all the way from the top and without a blouse, quite unlike the usual way a saree is draped. We managed to get a picture of a lady and I’m pretty sure we also managed to annoy her in the process.

DSC_0627

The rickshaw ride took us through narrow roads, stores and make-shift shops filled with spices, everyday ware and trinkets, and brought us to the Koti Tirtha. It is an artificial stepped tank, which locals bathe in before and after religious proceedings. 

Neither of us were feeling very religious and skipped visiting the temples around the tank and head right back to where we were put up. A couple of beers more (they’re about Rs120/- a bottle, and with very limited options – mostly just Kingfisher Utlra/Premium/Strong and Carlsberg) and some more seafood and fries, and we head back to our room for the afternoon.

The evening bus back to Bangalore never showed up, and we had to book a last minute cab that overcharged us and drove us through every possible road but the highway. I managed to catch a wink only at about quarter to six Monday morning, when we finally hit a highway and were a couple of hours from Bangalore. Needless to say, a fairly nice trip came to a lousy end, with me stressed out and bedridden with a fever for the next couple of days. And that, of course, led to another series of arguments about how the one holiday we managed to take also screwed up.

We’ve been on one more weekend trip since – to Hampi. I’ll be writing about that soon enough. And that, let me assure you, was far better than our Gokarna vacay.

[Oh, I must mention, I’m an average photographer, at best. And an even poorer photoshopper. All of these pictures have NOT been edited. It’s a pretty place, then, isn’t it?]

Happy BLR to me!

IMG-20160111-WA0002

 

3 years to the day, a (then)friend Bharath hauled two large suitcases out of a train at the Bangalore Cantonment station.

They’re the same bags I’d packed that’d taken me to USA on July 29th, 2008 and brought me back on May 19th, 2011.

Why I remember dates is still something I’ve never been able to understand, but these 3 years have taught me a lot.

My first year in Bangalore was mostly spent working very very hard. I also found time on weekends to watch plays, cook lots and lots of food and have friends over pretty much every weekend. I did up my matchbox-1-BHK in quaint little ways, filled with DIY and cheap furniture, to make it that place that for the next couple of years got “Oh, how cool!”, “Yaar, yeh toh GHAR jaisa lagta hai.”

Year 2, I had a boyfriend – the kind I wanted to marry. Life shifted from cooking a lot of seafood and baking pies to cooking red meats and baking all kinds of things he might enjoy eating. I backpacked for a couple of weeks in Europe in 2012 – came back a few kilos heavier. And then put on some more over the course of the year and the next. I worked even harder than I had in 2013 with the exact opposite outcome. I lost a bunch of my confidence at work, in the process.

Year 3, I thought I’d make my own pasta and brew my own beer. I did neither. I thought I’d get a new, cool job. I didn’t. I thought I’d travel more often. I did one trip to Gokarna, that ended on an utterly lousy note. I thought I’d save a lot more money. I failed on that count too.

Here I am, 3 years in a city that I, both, love and hate – 20 kilos heavier than what I was in 2013. And demotivated and under-confident in several ways. It’s not a feeling I’m used to. I’m used to being on top of things. I’m used to being ‘that awesome guy’.

Yet, I’ve grown up in ways I never thought I would.

  • I’ve been less frivolous
  • I’ve put on a whole bunch of weight, and also ended up with sleepless nights because of chronic backaches, as a result
  • I’ve tried looking for a new job, failed miserably and made peace on-and-off with my current job
  • I’ve calmed down at work, in the hope that it’ll help me get ahead
  • I’ve learnt that there are an unimaginable number of  asshole-y people in the world
  • I’ve been broke more often than I’d ever imagined
  • I’ve read so little, I’m almost ashamed of myself
  • I’ve fallen in love
  • I’ve lost a large part of the friend in my mother after her sister passed away and become that person who listens to her, instead of being that person who cried to her
  • I’ve gotten married
  • I’ve put in my life’s savings and paid EMIs for a big home to keep people, who until 2 months ago weren’t even related to me, happy
  • I’ve put off travel plans like nobody’s tomorrow
  • I’ve pretty much given up cooking altogether

And today, right now, while I type, I feel sad. It’s not a feeling I like. But it’s a feeling I’ve been feeling for many months now.

As someone who enjoys cooking, not being able to try out new stuff in the kitchen hurt a lot 6 months ago. I claim I’ve made my peace with not cooking at all – except the odd time I’m asked to make chapatis for lunch/dinner. But I know that every time a colleague asks how life is after marriage and how lucky I am to not have to cook because I live with my in-laws, my insides churn and my eyes tear up.

I’ve made my peace (or that’s the fancy term I like to use) by baking every other weekend. But I know, in my heart, that it’s a job half done. Because there’s invariably whipped cream sitting around in the fridge until a few days after, or cake batter that got made into cake pops to de-stress at 2 am, midweek.

I’ve made my peace with trying to do other stuff around the house  – DIY mostly. I won’t say I’ve been entirely successful with that. But I’m trying very hard to not let that get to me.

So yeah, I’ll let this post be about something we got around to make every once in a while this last year – ramen.

I don’t know if it came out of a very tired day at work or just a need to use up a bunch of green onions I had lying around in my fridge, and I cooked up a semi-spicy broth – with some miso paste and red chillies, tossed in some chicken and some noodles. That’s when I realized I had something that I could add an egg too, a little garnishing and turn into my very own ramen.

Since then, I’ve come across several articles on the web, about different recipes for ramen, several ways of making soupy noodles:

  • Serious Eats has a really fun link on how to add hot water to pre-prepped noodles meals
  • This posts on Food52 was one of the first few I’d sent to my husband when he was looking for ideas on what he could add to make his own ramen. He ended up making his own schezwan sauce, a recipe for which deserves to be put up here, when he makes it next, and adding some shrimp into his super spicy broth.

Here’s what I usually do:

  1. Because I’m a sucker for one pot meals, I put some eggs to boil in a pot filled with drinking water. When the eggs are boiled, we usually do hard-boiled eggs at home, (though I’m quite a sucker for the soft-boiled variety too, and your ramen will taste great even with a soft-boiled yolk!), fish the eggs out and let them cool. Keep the water aside, so that you can re-use it to make your broth and boil your noodles!
  2. Toss a few pods of garlic into a half teaspoon of oil and let them brown. Burnt garlic is awesome. Of course, I make sure to not let it go black. Just a nice, rich, caramelized brown. You know when it’s done, really. It just smells great!
  3. Grill an onion on your gas stove, in quarters.
  4. Crush the garlic in with some fresh red chillies (the spicier, the better!)
  5. Add another half-teaspoon or so of oil to a large pot and add the chilli-garlic paste. Saute for a minute or so.
  6. Pick a meat. I’ve usually used bite sized pieces of chicken, or large prawns. Just using bacon, works to. Or if you’re vegetarian, you can skip the meat.
  7. Add the meat into the pot and let it cook for just a little bit. Remember, chicken and prawns both cook really fast and you don’t want to over cook your meat. It’s okay to take them off the heat, even if they’re a little under. They’ll spend a few minutes in the broth and cook later anyway
  8. Add in some halved mushrooms and slices of radish, if you like, as well. You can add just about any veggie in, really. We’ve done bok choy one time, we’ve done a mix of turnips and radishes another. We’ve omitted veggies altogether one time.
  9. Add a dash of pepper, and some salt to taste.
  10. Feel free to strain out the meat and the veggies at this point. I usually do so, to avoid over cooking them.
  11. Add in the water from your boiled eggs to the pot now.
  12. I usually have a few sachets of some miso soup powder lying around at home. I mix two sachets (each sachet makes a cup of soup), with a couple of teaspoons of water to make a thick paste and use those as miso paste addition, to my broth.
  13. Add in a teeny tiny bit of fish sauce, but make sure you don’t make your broth all salty, in the process.
  14. When the broth is just about to come to a boil, add in a few handfuls of noodles. I usually use a local variety of egg noodles I get at the grocer’s. The noodles usually take only 2-3 minutes to cook. Because the broth contains all of the chilli-garlic paste, the noodles cook in tasty broth too, making them all the more delicious.
  15. In a pan, add some sugar and a dash of vinegar. Add in the ginger juliennes and let them caramelize to a nice brown colour and take them off the heat immediate, to avoid burning them altogether. My husband came up with this, the first time he made his own ramen and we’ve been adding caramelized ginger to our ramen ever since.
  16. Add the meat and the veggies into the pot,  a minute or two before serving.
  17. Serve the soupy broth, noodles and meat out into a bowl.
  18. Garnish with chopped green onions, a few pieces of nori (I usually have some of those handy too!), half an egg, black sesame seeds (just for the colour contrast!)

I’ve written this out in a really goody way, where I’ve listed out the how-to bit and not listed out a generic set of ingredients. Hey, it’s been a while! So, here goes:

The ingredients below make ramen for 3 people.

  1. 2 cups of a meat of your choice
  2. 2 tablespoons of miso paste
  3. 8-10 garlic pods
  4. 8-10 red chillies
  5. 4 eggs
  6. 3 handfuls of egg noodles
  7. 4-6 cups of water
  8. A half cup of button mushrooms
  9. A half cup of thinly sliced rounds of radish
  10. 1 onion, cut into quarters
  11. Salt and pepper to taste
  12. A dash of fish sauce
  13. 1 cup of green onions, for garnish
  14. 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, for garnish
  15. 3 tablespoons of fresh ginger, julienned
  16. 1 teaspoon of sugar
  17. 1 teaspoon of vinegar

So yeah, this has been a good way to get back to posting on the blog.

The picture at the beginning of this post is something we cooked up on Sunday evening, because my mum-in-law takes time off kitchen duties for Sunday dinner.

This one below is when @to_soham was visiting a few weeks ago.

Here’s one from when I tried my hand at summer rolls and made a broth with prawns.

 

And this last one is one of my first attempts at soupy noodles –  a hazy picture with a book that I’ve *still* only read a hundred pages (or so) of.

 

I don’t know whether the first part of this post is a rant. I don’t mean to bitch about people or cry at my misfortune (which I d0n’t think this is, to begin with) or anything of that sort. I just wish I had been strong enough to have done some things differently last year.

This year, I promise to buy myself a pasta maker. I promise to do more holidays, even if it means doing the odd long drive alone or going for a weekend trip with friends. I also hope to get around to lose those 20 kilos I’ve put on because of stress and poor eating habits. I hope to do better at work and make that jump to a new/better place, if that’s what it takes. I want to bake a lot more on weekends and try and be more productive. I want to read – like I used to in 2013 and 2014. I want to update the blog a lot more. And as hopeless as I sound, at the end of the year, I may not be drastically happier than I am right now, but I’ll try to be a better person.

 

 

 

 

No Kangaroos in Austria

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

My ride from Munich to Vienna was interesting. I drank beers and did that instagram-y thing of sitting by a train window which had a little table top and made notes in my quaint Indian looking diary. I also made conversation with the two ladies who sat across from me. Well, knowing me, you’d know they initiated it. They were visiting a relative close to Salzburg. The younger of the two remarked at my cool chappals (the vivobarefoot ones I’ve been prancing around the world in, funny because they’re actually workout/running footwear and I use them when I travel) and about how little luggage I was carrying for a 2 week holiday (score!!). She also asked if I was from Mumbai because that’s probably one of the few Indian cities non-Indians know. It was funny though, when she asked if I was writing in English and asked if the Indian script read from left to right. And then I got into Devnagari and Urdu, at which point they lost some interest, so we smiled, talked about petty things and then went back to doing our own thing.

The beers I opened on the train were  an Andechs Export Dunkel and the Andechs Weissbier Hell. While the former was everything I like about good dark beers, it did have a mild sweet tinge to it. It worked pretty well for me, to be honest. And now while I’m looking at my notes for this blog post, I realize how I’m not the biggest fan of White Ales. There’s a citrus-y bitter after taste that I’m not too comfortable with. The Bira 91 beers that were launched in India just a few months ago have something similar going about them – the red Bira is a white ale that I don’t like very much, while the blue one is a Blonde which I seem to prefer.

But back to my train ride… We crossed a town called Bad Wilbad which made me wonder if it had anything to do with our Urdu-esque towns Hyderabad, Osmanabad with the ‘abad’ denoting prosperity, if I have my facts right.

When I got to Vienna, I stuck to the directions I’d noted down before I left. I didn’t want to waste an hour walking around all lost, like I did when I got to Munich. I was tired and almost excited to see Vipin and thankfully enough, I found my hostel a couple of minutes after I got out of the train station. The area was a little red-light-y, I will admit, but hey, when I got to my room, all I could really think of was getting into my night clothes and snuggling in with a book until Vipin arrived.

Mr. Nair, in his element, lost his way and showed up only around 1 am by which time I was fast asleep. We woke up the following morning with too many plans and too many ideas, only to realize four days later that we could use more days in Austria whenever we’re travelling next (alone or otherwise).

The plan was this – Friday, Saturday, Sunday in Vienna. Monday in Salzburg. And half of Tuesday in Vienna again, after which he’d head back to London and I’d take a train via Munich to Brussels, for the last leg of my trip.

Friday started with picking up day passes for Vipin for public transport, my Eurail pass came handy here for me and getting a couple of maps of parts of the city that we wanted to check out. He’d heard a  bunch of things about käsekrainer -käse is cheese – cheese filled sausages typically served with mustard and I think we were secretly on a mission to make breakfasts off of würstelstands – sausage stands that dot the streets of Vienna. We also picked up coffees for ourselves and this really delicious parmesanstange (stange, in German, is rod and true enough, this was pretty much a baguette).

The rest of the day was mostly just us strolling through the old town – the 1st district of the city where a lot of touristy buildings and government offices are. The Ringstrasse circles this area (also called the Innere Stadt) and you can hop onto one of the trams around sunset and take a ride all along the Ringstrasse. Our second night, we had to walk a whole long distance because a large part of the Ringstrasse was cordoned off because a movie shooting was on. Turns out it was the latest Mission Impossible movie! Hah!  (Yes, I’m writing this blogpost almost a year after I was actually in Vienna. Thank God for scribbled notes and pretty notebooks!)

First stop – Karlskirche – St. Charles Church, complete with a pond (where I took an artsy picture of the reflection of the church) and beer carts and tickets to some folk playing Vivaldi 4 Seasons later that evening!

P1040934

There was frozen yoghurt, goofy pictures, pink bunnies and street music while we lost and found our away around the old town and finally ended up at Wiener Staatsoper – The Vienna State Opera. They had tours every hour and we had just missed one when we got there, so we walked to the Concert House – Konzerthaus – in the hope that we could check if anything was running that day (or even the weekend). It was shut and we decided to check back again post lunch and after we were done with a tour of the opera house.

P1040897

So we made it back to the Opera House, where there were people dressed in medieval attire selling tickets to musicals and recitals happening through the evening at various locations across the city. Since we had tickets for Vivaldi 4 Seasons later that evening (which we bought at the church, which was also the venue), we thought we’d just come back to the gimmicky guys the following day to see what they had to offer. Turns out, inside the opera house, while we were being led around, we were informed that the folks outside were, indeed, selling tickets super expensive for events that weren’t half as good as they were made to sound.

While we toured the opera house, we learned that the construction was a failure back in the nineteenth century because the public responded to it very poorly. Tragically enough,  the building was heavily damaged during bombardments through World War II. (I was almost reminded of Shoshanna’s cinema bombing scene from Inglorious Basterds).  The theatre company that originally performed regularly at the opera house eventually dissolved and now, there are performances through the year by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (barring July through August, dammit!). Tickets sell for as high as € 9k each!

P1040910

The main hall was as grand as grand gets and we even got a little peak backstage, where the curtains, lights and other props are managed. The latter was more overwhelming than the former, to be honest.

P1040913

The new construction of the hall (after World War II) was done using thirteen different varieties of marble from thirteen different European nations, to signify unity and solidarity.

Through the passageways and the ballroom were paintings and tile mosaics heavy on cubism, very Picasso-esque, if I may.

DSC_0254

We made another quick (and futile) stroll to the concert house hoping it’d have opened post lunch, only to learn that it remains shut July through August too. Summer bummer! And Vipin promptly swore he’d make another trip soon enough again.

It was way past lunch but not quite sundown yet. The Vivaldi 4 Seasons concert was scheduled only for much later in the evening, so I bullied Vipin into doing a quick trip to Nachtemarkt – Night Market. It’s a pity it didn’t strike me then, that it’s probably best to visit it post sundown, because you know, night market… I usually have my hopes up high when I think of food markets because that’s just me. This one wasn’t half bad, but then, I guess I love when I can stop by stores and pick up spices or oils or just about anything to bring back home with me. And I didn’t do that here. There were stalls with barrels of olives, cold cuts, sacks full of spices, local grown fruits and vegetables and even barrels of fruit vinegars!

DSC_0272

With a quick stop at a cafe where I sheepishly asked if I could take the glass bottle (Römerquelle – an online searched revealed it’s known for its state-of-the-art bottling) we got some bottled water in (for the pretty cap). I downed a couple of Wiener Würstchen (REALLY long sausages – Vienna style) with horseradish (ooh, wasabi!) and a Murauer Bier (one of the oldest beers in Austria, I believe) and Vipin ordered himself a goulash.

DSC_0264

We headed back to Karlskirche for the music soon after. We were still early and we picked up a fruit soda (uh, teetotalers) and a Hirter (an average beer that can easily be likened to the Kingfisher of Austria, if I go by what the lady who owned the cart told us). It’s weird being (and looking) Indian sometimes. People like going all Hare-Rama-Hare-Krishna or Namaste on you. And that makes me awkward sometimes. That, or Bollywood references. But hey, learning to cope! We settled down on some rugs that had been laid out at the pond and waited until the sun set and then head to the concert inside the church.

The last time I went inside a church (not to sight-see) was way back in school. When there’s too many tourists around, you don’t really end up soaking in the quiet. You pretty much just light a candle, put in a dollar or a euro or a few cents, say a  little prayer and get own to taking pictures. It’s nice, however, when you enter a place of worship, and you’re there not to take pictures (okay, I did take some at the end), but just to be there, to sit there and just sit there some more (and probably attend a concert in the process, hee).

P1040943

I don’t understand very much music at all. I can only tell between liking something because it’s good and liking something because it’s so bad it’s good. I enjoyed myself for the two hours of that I listened to Vivaldi 4 Seasons for the former.
P1040944

We got back to our room, gossipped about girls and boys we were in love with, gossipped about people on Twitter and went to bed.

Day 2 started off with us wanting to do a nice heavy breakfast, so we head back to old town. We picked Tirolerhof Cafe because I’d read a bunch about their coffee beverages online and thought it was worth giving a shot. Besides seeing a Coffee Day on the way and also a store called Nanu Nana store, I think we also made our first set of jokes about stalls that spelt kebabs as ‘kebap’ and placed the word very strategically between pizzas and falafels – thereby reading ‘pizza kebap falafel’. Juvenile. But fun. You know how it is.

P1040962

Breakfast was omlettes and Kaiserschmarrn (shredded pancakes served with stewed plums, something the Austrian emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I was very fond). Vipin picked a coffee called melange – espresso with egg liqueur, while I went for the less experimental Maria Theresia (espresso with orange liqueuer).

P1040958

P1040957

Right across the road from Tirolerhof Cafe is Habsburg (Hofburg) Palace, with huge lawns and even a butterfly house (all green and dense with real, live butterflies fluttering around or just chilling or whatever, in a greenhouse like structure). We weren’t too keen on seeing the museums there, so we just sat around for a bit, opened up a map over some gelato and then figured there was a film museum (Österreichisches Filmmuseum) and the Augustinerkirche (St. Augustine’s Church) within walkable distance. The former was shut (SUMMER! UH!) and the latter was well, meh. So we strolled around some more, thinking of what we could do, when Vipin suggested we go to the Schonnbrunn Palace. A couple of train rides, some more gelato and a short walk later, we were at the palace grounds. Passing grape vines growing along a sidewalk may just be the usual Viennese thing, but me, I was all squeals and pictures.

P1040963

P1040964

We attended an apple strudel making session at the palace, where I made notes and bought a miniature of some Stroh, to use for an apple strudel I’d already decided I’d make when I got back to Bangalore. We also got to taste some strudel, the official recipe.

P1040970

(and I did get back to Bangalore and bake some apple strudel at home. It turned out pretty awesome. Not quite shiny golden, but crisp and delicious for sure.)

We also took a stroll inside the palace, through the rooms, complete with audio guides. And sawhorses getting their horseshoes changed in pictures that almost look like men jerking off.

P1040966

We finally ended up in the royal palace gardens, where we spent a good 3 or 4 hours – much like I’d done at Marseilles. Less time inside the palace and more time in the gardens. The gardens here seemed a lot more elaborate – orange gardens, labyrinths, installations and a mini-hike up to the Gloriette, from where you can get a glorious view of the palace (which is why it was named, if I’m not wrong).

P1040990

P1040980

P1040985

This picture, above, is the Gloriette. And the one below is that of the palace from the Gloriette.

P1040996

We got caught in the rains on our way back to the entrance of the palace and by the time we got to the city, I threw a mini fit where I insisted we take a tram to Grinzing, the wine district of Vienna. Vipin wasn’t too keen, but we had an amazing time when we did get there, so I guess my bad behaviour was forgiven, after all.

Grinzing is a quaint little suburb of Vienna, quite different from the rest of the city. Winding roads, tiny homes, and several taverns (called Heurigens) that serve house wines.

P1050005

We walked around for a little while, not being able to decide where to eat at and finally just walked into a heurigen because we were getting hungry. There were plump men playing the guitar around tables, people sitting at the bar, people sitting in an enclosed garden and we found a table and just soaked in the happiness. My hopes were already up about the place. Women dressed in dirndl helped us with our food and wine. Over several carafes of red wine, cheese and cold cuts and the best pork ribs I’ve ever eaten, we gossiped some more and planned our trip to Salzburg, for Monday.

DSC_0290

DSC_0291

(The displeasure on my face is solely a function of the fact that I don’t like pictures of myself, the food, trust you me, was fucking fabulous!)

P1050014

P1050020

(There’s another LONG post about my time in Austria that should be up in the next few days – a couple of days in Vienna and a day in Salzburg. Keep reading!)

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 37 other followers