Lisbon – September 2021

Lisbon – September 2021

I made a pitch for a cycling advocacy platform idea at the VeloCity conference held in Lisbon during September. The idea was based on my Ringstrasse150 project from a few years ago. Ten great ideas were pitched and it was great to have been selected, but I didn’t win. Better luck next time.

It was my first long distance trip since COVID and reminded me how much fun travel can be. Lisbon is a beautiful city and, of course, I have a warm place in my heart for historic trams, hills and the ocean – and did I mention the great food?

VeloCity was full of positive energy. Great organization. Interesting presentations. Hundreds of good people doing excellent work. It was also my first “silent conference” which means you get headphones, tune into a channel, and can listen to the presentations from anywhere in the big exhibition area. Fantastic … it made physical distancing easy, you could get a coffee without missing a presentation, go to the WC, etc. Highly recommended.

I was able to squeeze in visits to the National Coach Museum in Belém and the Carris Museum (Lisbon’s public transport system) – great website by the way, both were wonderful. (I visited the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos on a previous trip – otherwise it would have been a must see!)

And, of course, the food was fantastic. On my first night I went early to Zapata and treated myself to fresh seafood. It was great, sitting at the counter as locals walked in for a quick beer, coffee or glass of wine – talking with the owner, and watching the trams pass by through the open doorway. Very friendly people, excellent food, low prices. In Belém I tried to eat at O Frade – which looked wonderful, but was full, so make a reservation. Right around the corner was a small place called Belém Food Shop. They specialize in roast pork. I had a great sandwich with homemade potato chips and water for about 7 euros – it was fast and perfect.

For dinner one night I returned to Taberna da Rua das Flores, a favorite from my last visit – still great! – and tried out Lisboa Tu e Eu 2 – which is a restaurant although they also rent rooms (or used to). After taking one look at the menu I wanted to try everything and so they brought me half orders. Tu e Eu was a tip from Luis, a brewer from Dois Corvos (excellent beers), who I met at the Sputnik craft beer bar. This was quite cool because Sputnik was a one-block walk from the famous 28 tram … and Tu e Eu is right around the Cathedral tram stop – so perfect for a tram nerd like me.

Harvesting Gemischten Satz Grapes in Vienna

Harvesting Gemischten Satz Grapes in Vienna

Photo of person picking grapes

I started helping Vienna Winemaker Jutta Ambrositsch harvest grapes in 2009. Every year I help out on one or two days. It’s a wonderful break from day-to-day work in front of a computer screen.

Jutta’s wine is excellent and she has my favourite Heurigen in Vienna. It moves around and is only open on a few weekends a year, but if you have the possibility do visit, the wine is great and the food is really fantastic, a twist on traditional Heurigen food. Few things could be better than sitting with friends around a bottle of Jutta’s wine and her Liptauer cheese spread on Gragger Chorherr bread.

I’ve ended several of my Janes Walk in Grinzing tours at Jutta’s Heurigen. In the meantime, here’s the post I wrote describing my first picking experience.

Photo of wine bottle, glass and liptauer cheese spread at a heurigen in Vienna

Original Post from October 2009

On Saturday I finally did something I have always wanted to do: pick grapes for wine! It started with an e-mail from Slow Foods Vienna asking for volunteers to help winemaker Jutta Ambrositsch harvest her “Sommeregg” vineyard (one of several she has) for Gemischten Satzes wine.

Vienna produces the most wine of any city in the world; the main reason is that the city has a huge land area and over 50% is open space (forest, hills and agriculture). Many of the hills surrounding Vienna produce excellent wine. The city even owns a winery called Cobenzl. Cobenzl has a wonderful view overlooking the city, a restaurant and an adjoining mini farm for children.

A big plus for public transport fans in Vienna is that you can take the city bus to the vineyards! The 38-A bus (direction Kahlenberg) takes you from the U-Bahn (U4) terminal station Heiligenstadt to Cobenzl and on to Kahlenberg (another great view with a nice hotel and restaurant). On the way the bus goes through the Grinzing neighborhood where there are many Heurigen (local wine restaurants).

Anyway, back to the picking. Unfortunately Saturday was gray and cool – but at least it did not rain! – so I dressed warmly. After a brief description of what grapes to harvest (no moldy grapes, no dried out grapes, no grapes damaged by hail or wasps – when the skin of the grape is open it gives a chance for vinegar bacteria to get in – and, very important, no lady bugs – they make the wine stink) we were on our way up the hill with our collection bins.

There were about 30 people helping harvest about a half-hectare area of grapes. The volunteers consisted of friends of Jutta’s and Slow Food members. It was a fun group with lots of talking during the work. I was lucky enough to work with someone studying agriculture and wine making, so I learned a lot and could always ask her if the particular grapes were OK or not before throwing them in the bin. Many hands make light work and we finished the field by about 3 pm (and even had time for a one-hour lunch break).

Lunch was cold salads, cheese, bread, ham and some of Jutta’s 2007 Gemisches Satz (from the same vineyard we were picking) and a 2008 Riesling which was really excellent. When we were finished we had a piping hot goulash soup – nice since when standing around (as opposed to picking) you became quite cold quickly. A little more wine and then back to the bus stop in Grinzing for the trip home.

Photo of people picking grapes in Vienna
Photo of a vineyard with red harvest bin on a gray day in Vienna
Photo of goulash soup, semmel and bottle of wine in Vienna

You may be asking yourself what is “Gemischten Satz”? Translated literally it means “mixed batch”. It is typical to Vienna and is made from vinyards that have many different grape varieties planted together. In Jutta’s half-hectare Sonnenegg vinyard there are about 20 different sorts of grapes including Grüner Veltliner, Weißburgunder, Neuburger, Riesling, Müller-Thurgau, Gelber traminer, Gewürztraminer, Zierfandler, Rotgipfler, Roter Veltliner, … and several traditional Austrian grapes that are unique). The Sonnenegg vineyard was planted in 1955 but has probably been used for grapes for centuries.

Later this week we will attend the Slow Foods Terra Madre Austria congress at the Vienna City Hall. The congress highlights traditional foods from Austria and Gemischten Satz will be one of the foods that are officially recognized by Slow Foods at the event. We will go to a class on Gemischten Satz and learn lots more about it, so expect to hear more later. In the meantime, when you visit Vienna look for Gemischten Satz and give it a try – it’s not for everyone, but fun to experience.

Photo of cardboard boxes with bottles of wine
Who the heck is Carl Ritter von Ghega?

Who the heck is Carl Ritter von Ghega?

Photo of Karl Ritter von Ghega monument in Semmering Austria.

A snowy day visiting the Karl Ritter von Ghega monument in Semmering Austria.

In February I started working as a senior researcher at the St. Pölten University of Applied Science’s Carl Ritter von Ghega Institute for Integrated Mobility Research. Now I know what you are thinking ,,,

Who the heck is Carl Ritter von Ghega?

According to Wikipedia … “Carl Ritter von Ghega or Karl von Ghega (10 January 1802 – 14 March 1860) was an Austrian nobleman and the designer of the Semmering Railway from Gloggnitz to Mürzzuschlag. During his time, he was the most prominent of Austrian railway engineers and architects.”

The Semmering Railway was built between 1848 and 1854 and is part of Austria’s Southern Railway (Sudbahn) between Vienna and Trieste (part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire then). It was the first standard gauge railway built over the Alps. The Semmering Railway is a UNESCO world heritage monument and there’s a good description on the UNESCO Semmering Railway page.

Logo of St Poelten University of Applied SciencesVisiting is easy since it’s only about one-hour by train from Vienna to Mürzzuschlag. There the excellent Sudbahn Museum has exhibits about building the Semmering Railway, Austrian railways in general, and historic rolling stock. Here’s an excellent post with history, photos and directions for hiking between Semmering and Mürzzuschlag from Andras Moser.

I was a little surprised with our institute’s name when I first heard it, but It’s nice to work on transport projects in an institute named after a famous railway engineer. And, of course, it always gives you something to talk about when people ask, who …

Austrian (Airlines) Jingle Bells – Music Video

Austrian (Airlines) Jingle Bells – Music Video

Austrian Airlines had a contest for singing a Christmas Carol in 2014. Here’s my entry.

I think it’s a pretty neat take-off from the traditional airline safety briefing.

Oh what fun it is to fly on Austrian tonight!

Welcome on board. Buckle up. Please put your bags away.

Look around for an exit. Floor lights show you the way.

Oxygen masks above your head. Life rests under your seat.

Oh what fun it is to fly with a single malt served neat.

Turn off your phones. No smoking helps our air smell nice.

So don’t tamper with the WC smoke detection device!

Now sit back and relax. We’ll soon be underway.

Oh what fun it is to fly on Austrian tonight!

I won an honorable mention with a 50 Euro coupon for a future flight.

Janes Walk Vienna Grinzing

Janes Walk Vienna Grinzing

Vienna and Vineyards from Krapfenwaldgasse Wien 1019

Vienna and Vineyards from Krapfenwaldgasse – Grinzing

I’m leading a walking tour from Cobenzl to Grinzing on May 2, 2014, as part of the worldwide Jane’s Walk weekend. Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) was an urbanist and activist whose writings championed a fresh, community-based approach to city building. Her book The Death and Life of Great American Cities is required reading for anyone interested in city planning and how cities work.

The walk will start at Wiener Linien bus 38A stop in the Cobenzl parking lot. We’ll walk down the Oberer Reisenbergweg into the centre of Grinzing, head up to the Krapfenwaldgasse (see the view above). Along the way we’ll talk about history, wine in Vienna and Grinzing.

At the end of the walk we’ll stop for a glass of wine and some Heurige food at Jutta Ambrositsch’s Buschenschank in Residence. If you’d like to take the walk by yourself contact me and I can send you my notes for the tour.

Transport Museum in Lucerne Switzerland

Transport Museum in Lucerne Switzerland

Photo of DC-3 at Verkehrshaus Luzern (2012).

DC-3 and Coronado Airplanes at the Verkehrshaus – Swiss Transport Museum – Lucerne

I visited Lucerne Switzerland in March. Lucerne is about 45-minutes by train from Zurich and it’s a wonderful day trip with several excellent museums and a very nice historic old city to walk around. I visited one of my favourite transport museums, the Verkehrshaus (Transport House). The museum has a great collection of railway locomotives and cars, trams, a couple airplanes, exhibits on cable railways, ships and more. It’s a little pricy (normal adult admission is 30 Swiss Francs, which is close to $30 now! – although they have family plans, and you can also get a discount if you use the Swiss National Railway’s Railaway program). Here are a couple photos.

Light and dark beer at the Rathaus Brauerei Lucerne

Light and dark beer at the Rathaus Brauerei Lucerne

We discovered an excellent restaurant in Lucerne right on the river called Nix … they had excellent local microbrewery beer from Luzerner Bier (by the way, Luzerner delivers its beer by bike!), a nice Flammkuchen and superb lamb. A great meal, and probably really pleasant to visit in warmer weather when you can sit outside in front of the river.

We also had a beer at the Rathaus Braueri, a traditional beer cellar in the old city hall located across the river from Nix. It was a little touristy, but it also looked like they had good beer food. The beer was quite good (see photo).

Historic tram at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne.

Historic tram at the Swiss Transport Museum in Lucerne.

My photos of Lucerne on Flickr.

My photos of the Verkehrshaus (Swiss Transport Museum) are in my Transport Museums set on Flickr use the tag: verkehrshaus.

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