Vienna – Glacis Beisl

Vienna – Glacis Beisl

Glacis Beisl Vienna - entrance on a winter night.

Glacis Beisl Vienna – entrance on a winter night.

The Glacis Beisl is one of my favorite restaurants in Vienna. Located in the MuseumsQuartier, it’s a very comfortable place with a great garden in the summertime.

The room is large and comfortable. It’s no smoking (inside) and the noise levels are fairly low.

They give you the option of having linen tablecloth and napkins, bread and a spread (Gedeck, cover charge in English) or not. This is really a nice feature and makes the restaurant good for both formal and informal dining. You should specify which you want when you make a reservation (or come into the restaurant).

The service has been very good every time I have visited. The staff are nice, speak English and are helpful with menu choices. The menu itself has an English translation on the last page.

The food is excellent. Whether you want traditional dishes like Wiener Schnitzel or Tafelspitz, or more creative cooking. Their food comes from good sources, local and often organic. The bread is from Joseph Brot (a local bakery) and is fantastic. They have a changing menu and standards. Like many Viennese restaurants they have a daily lunch special including a main course and soup.

The wine list features many very good Austrian wines by the glass and bottle. This is a nice place to experience Austrian wines. They feature a rotating winery of the month. The beer is good (Eggenberger and Budweiser from Czech Republic).

We love to take visitors to the Glacis Beisl to taste excellent Austrian food at a reasonable price.

Antwerp – December 2013

Antwerp – December 2013

MAS Museum Antwerp

MAS Museum Antwerp

I visited Antwerp in December as part of a business trip to Brussels. Antwerp is only about a half-hour from Brussels Airport and there are about two trips per hour from the Brussels Airport train station.

MAS Museum Antwerp - view from one of the sky lobbies.

MAS Museum Antwerp – view from one of the sky lobbies.

The main purpose of my trip was to visit the Museum aan de Stroom (MAS). The MAS museum “tells the story of the people, the past, present and future of the city of Antwerp and the world.” The building, as you can see from these photos is really spectacular. There are changing exhibits and permanent exhibits about the city and port as well as some more esoteric subjects. You can ride the escalators up the building to a lobby on each floor without paying admission. From the 9th floor you can walk up a set of stairs to the roof where there’s an outdoor area with spectacular views of the city and river. It’s a very neat museum and experience.

De Groote Witte Arend Restaurant Antwerp - courtyard.

De Groote Witte Arend Restaurant Antwerp – courtyard.

Next I had lunch in a restaurant called De Groote Witte Arend (Flemish only website) which specialises in Belgian cuisine and beer. It’s on the other side of the historic city center from the MAS museum, about 15-20 minute walk. The building is quite old, there’s a short history at the back of the menu. For many years it was a nunnery and there is still a chapel off the side of the courtyard. The restaurant has several rooms arranged around the courtyard. It was quite quiet at late lunch on a mid-December weekday, but I can imagine it being a lot of fun when it’s crowded.

Carbonnades at De Groote Witte Arend restaurant Antwerp.

Carbonnades at De Groote Witte Arend restaurant Antwerp.

I ordered one of my favourite Belgium meals: carbonnade (or: Vlaamsche Stooflees in Flemish). It’s beef stew cooked in the local dark beer and is said to be the national dish of Belgium. Generally served with “Belgium” fries, here with a chicory salad too. The version here was the best I have ever had, the beef was cooked just right and the fries were just out of the cooker, the salad was a great counterpoint. One of the best meals I ate all year! I drank a De Arend blond beer with it. The waiter was extremely friendly and helpful (in English) in helping me pick a beer. In short, a great place to visit for the food and the beer!

Antwerp Zuiderterrace

Antwerp Zuiderterrace

After lunch I walked over to the river, it was a very grey day, but it’s always fun watching the water go by. There’s a beautiful art deco building that serves as a boarding ramp for large passenger boats, now there’s a restaurant inside too. It has great Antwerpen signs.

Tile diagram of St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp.

Tile diagram of St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp.

Next I walked across the street to the St Anna pedestrian – bike tunnel located at the Sint-Jansvliet square (end of the Hoogstraat).

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

This historic landmark is a 572 meter long tunnel under the Scheldt river. It was built in 1931-1933 to link the old city centre with the settlement on the left bank of the river. The building looks like the Battery Tunnel entrance in Manhattan and so I fantasised about filming a Men in Black parody here … They have preserved the wooden escalators, but there’s also an elevator for bikers. Quite neat.

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

St Anna Pedestrian Bike Tunnel Antwerp

I walked back through the old city to the Central Railway Station. The station has been renovated in recent years to allow trains to travel through on their way from Brussels and south, to Amsterdam and north. I visited while it was under construction several years ago, but now it’s finished and it’s wild. At least four levels of trains plus connections to the city’s metro system. They managed to keep the historic train shed – beautiful – and headhouse building. The photos here do not do the station justice, it’s very hard to photograph … just visit it!

Antwerp Central Station

Antwerp Central Station

The trip back to Brussels took about half an hour (we did not go via the airport station). By the way, it was very easy to buy my railway tickets on line at the Belgium railway’s website www.belgianrail.be.

Check out soundbitecity blog’s post Beer City Antwerp about Antwerp brewery DeKoninck and restaurant café Pelgrim across the street … they’re on my list for next time!

Here’s a link to my flickr photos of Antwerp. Here’s a link to a map with my flickr photos flickr Antwerp photos map. 

CIVITAS Forum 2013

CIVITAS Forum 2013

Georges Braque - Mon Velo

Georges Braque – Mon Velo

Just returned from the CIVITAS Forum 2013 in Brest France. Great conference with lots of neat sustainable transport ideas.

LRT on pedestrian mall in centre of Brest, France (October 2013).

LRT on pedestrian mall in centre of Brest, France (October 2013).

I travelled via Paris, taking the TGV from Montparnasse to Brest and back. On my return trip I visited the wonderful Braque exhibit at the Grand Palais and was struck by his painting of his bicycle (above). It was appropriate for the trip!

Brest is a very pleasant city. Like many relatively small cities in France they have a tramway! The tram runs along a pedestrian mall through the center of the city.

Burgenland Austria bike tour

Burgenland Austria bike tour

Frauenkirchen Church in Frauenkirchen, Burgenland Austria, August 2013.

Frauenkirchen Church in Frauenkirchen, Burgenland Austria, August 2013.

On Saturday I took my bike on the train to Gols in Burgenland (Austria). My goal was to combine a visit to Judith Beck Vineyards with some exercise on a beautiful end of summer day.

Saturday was Pannobile Day 2013 (German) in Gols. It’s organized by a group of 11 (opps!) 9 winemakers around Gols to celebrate the new year of Pannobile wine (they make a single red and/or white wine that they call Pannobile from a blend of grapes). The winemakers then work together on marketing etc. The name Pannobile comes from the Roman name for the area.

On Pannobile Day all the wineries are open for tasting and there is a big dinner party in the evening. Since I was on my bike I decided it would be best to only taste one and not stay for dinner (maybe next year I’ll stay overnight and go!).

I tasted three wines from Judith Beck Winery just on the outskirts of Gols. I chose her wine because I’d enjoyed it before and it’s organic. She has a beautiful winery building and tasting room. The people were quite friendly and there was nice food to nibble on. I tried a white, the Pannobile 2011 and the Pinot Noir. They were all very nice, but since I was on my bike I only took one bottle (the Pannobile naturally!).

Regional train from Burgenland at Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main train station), August 2013.

Regional train from Burgenland at Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main train station), August 2013.

The bike ride was great too. Although it’s a little hard to get to the Vienna Hauptbahnhof railway station by bike (there are very few direct routes with good bike paths right now). However the station is just being completed so hopefully this will change. The Austrian National Railways (OBB) has a nice feature on its travel planning software that allows you to select only trains where you can take your bike on board. You can take a bike on most of the local and regional trains. However, there was not very much space on this beautiful day for bikes, so my advice would be to get their early. You don’t need to pay extra to take a bike on these trains either, nice!

I took the train to Gols. There I followed Burgenland bike route B-23 (the Culture Bikeway). It goes through the vineyards to a small city called Frauenkirchen (named after a large baroque church in the town). The church was a pilgrimage church in the middle ages and there are several historic buildings around it including what looks like an old cloister across the street. The cloister is also a historic landmark and houses a restaurant called Paprikawirt – “Paprika Restaurant” in English – that looked excellent.

After a short break I headed back along the path through more vineyards and agricultural fields, then the towns of Halbturn and Mönchhof, before reaching Gols and the Judith Beck Winery tasting room. The path is quite well marked with signs and markings on the pavement, although I did get a little lost on the stretch between Halbturn and Mönchhof. After my tasting I rode around in the town of Gols since I had time before my train. There was at least one more Pannobile winery I passed and I also noticed the Pannobile Taxi, presumably to take people between wineries on Pannobile Day (another tip for next year!). The bike ride was about 24 km and the landscape was pretty much totally flat.

The trip to Gols from Vienna Hauptbahnhof (main railway station) takes about one hour. The OBB has a group fare called Einfach Raus that lets up to five people travel on regional trips for about 30 euros, it’s a really good deal for visitors.

Bratislava – August 2013

Bratislava – August 2013

Historic steam locomotive in Slovak Technical Museum, Transport Museum, Bratislava

Historic steam locomotive in Slovak Technical Museum, Transport Museum, Bratislava

Bratislava is about 60 Km from Vienna. It’s easy to get to using the railroad or by boat on the Danube. On Saturday I visited the transportation museum, adjoining the central station. They had a couple of restored steam locomotives out back (one of my favourites in the photo above) and lots of cars indoors.

After about an hour I walked into the city to meet some friends for dinner in the brew pub Starosloviensky Pivovar. The pub specialises in local sheep cheese and we tried three variations, all were very good. The beer was fresh and excellent. After dinner I took a short walk through the city and headed back to the railway station for the return trip to Vienna.

There is an inexpensive rail ticket from Vienna: round trip for 15 Euro including one day of public transport in Bratislava (Bratislava Ticket from Austrian Federal Railways – OeBB). The boat trip is quite cool and a nice way to see the scenery.

My Google Map of Bratislava.

My photos of Bratislava on Flickr.

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