Yesterday I left you with us having been on the Big Bus Tour. This morning we did the other line (lots of Palaces really) and this afternoon we decided to do the “20th Century and Films Walk” (well it was included in the price).  We turned up five minutes before the tour started at the Opera, where all the walking tours started.  We saw an elderly lady wearing red leggings, sandals and a white “Big Bus” shirt leaning against an advertising hoarding.  She was chatting to another couple.  We thought they must be on the tour, but in fact were just asking advice about getting tickets to go and see the Opera.  They left and we met our tour guide Ingrid.

The thing is, no offence, but Ingrid was; short (Karen towered over her), looked well past retirement age, had a twisted leg, a stoop and was clutching an e-cigarette.  I guessed this was not going to be a speedy walking tour.  I also got the impression that a retirement home in Middle Earth was missing a resident.

“What would you like to see?” she asked.
“Errr, this is the film tour isn’t it?” I enquired.
“Oh I don’t like that title” she continued.  “Most people have never heard of the films we mention”.
“Tom Cruise was here last week filming Mission Impossible 5”
“So I heard”
“But that won’t be out until next year so that’s no good.  Do you get a TV series in the UK based in Vienna about a detective and his dog?”
“Not that I am aware of”
“Shame…that’s filmed all over Vienna.  Have you heard of the Third Man”
“Yes, yes, we are going to watch it later”
“Well we can only show you Cafe Mozart from that.  Shall I just show you around the city a bit?”
“Errr, ok then”.

She told us a bit about the Opera House and then we moved off…slowly.  We moved a good 100 yards or so when Ingrid stopped and leaned against a pillar on the other side of the Opera House to where we had been standing about 1 min earlier.  She was slightly out of breath but gave us the low down on where to queue if wanted to get cheap, standing tickets for the opera.

“If you get standing tickets though…”
“Yes””..don’t see Wagner.  It goes on for 6 hours.” Sage advise I thought.”I can’t even sit through 6 hours of Wagner”
“Right, ok”
“I don’t like Wagner”

She then spent a good 5 minutes telling us all about the other “long” performances she didn’t like such as Shakespeare.  Fascinating stuff(!) if not totally related to Vienna.  I was starting to wonder if Ingrid was a tour guide or just someone who saw 2 mugs waking along and decided to go for a walk with them.

Obviously feeling refreshed we headed off again.  A short while later we stopped (we must have now travelled all of 300 meters). She explained how she always looked into the window of the coffee house that we just passed as there was an artist  she liked who had a studio next door and he often popped in.  A little stalkerish I thought, but again, nice to get a a bit of local colour.

As we continued our genteel stroll, one of the many red jacketed classical concert sales reps jumped out and tried to sell us tickets to a Mozat, Beethoven, Strauss Greatest Hits Concert.  Ingrid dismissed him out of hand and he returned to his little booth.

“These concerts are ok, but very expensive,  You’ll have an orchestra, a singer, a bit of a dance.  The musicians are….ok…but it’s just for the tourists”.  I was starting to wonder if there was any entertainment which Ingrid did like when she gave us top tips on getting cheap tickets for “proper” concerts.
“Just go the concert hall and ask for cheap tickets”
“Ok.  That simple?”
“Yes, and if you have to stand and concert is a lot shorter than an opera”.

Oh no, she is back on the opera thing again.  We moved on and she showed us various coffee houses and regaled us with stories about the old lady that used to run one of them. “She’s dead now”.  With comments like that, the fact that she kept repeating the same story straight after she had just told you it and he fact my heart missed a beat every time she stepped off the kerb made the whole experience feel like an afternoon out with my mum!

She promised to take us to the “most beautiful stair case in Vienna”.  It was actually in a private office block “but if the door is open, we can just nip in”.  Ok, so she stalks  artists and sneaks into private buildings.  The doors were open, but imply because they were moving a generator or something into the building through them.  She chatted the workmen and then came back to us and told us that they would be done in an hour, so pop back and have a look later.

Finally she took us into another private courtyard and up to a window.  I was expecting her at any moment to ask me to give her a leg up so she could jimmy open the window.  Luckily the window was already open.

“Mozart played here.  Can you take  picture through the railings?”  I could, and so I did.

As we left Ingrid she asked if there was anything at all we still wanted to know about Vienna.

“What about hiring bikes”
“Ah, I don’t ride a bike, so can’t really help you there”
“Ok then, we’ll just go then”
“Ok, but don’t forget, open doors, you never know what you will find behind it” (probably a security guard knowing my luck).  We said farewell to Ingrid as she headed off to her favourite coffee house.  We heeded her advise though, and a little later we went went back to the office block. The door was open, so we snook in and did indeed see Vienna’s most beautiful stair case.  Thanks Ingrid.

The cakeation continues with vengeance and todays cake was  Hazelnut torte.  Recipe below.

Transport Tally
Cars x 1
Plane x 1
Train x 4
Bikes  x 1
Trams  x 8
Boats x 1
Bus x 2
Hazelnut Cake
1 1/2 cups hazelnuts, toasted and with skins rubbed off
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some for the cake pan
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons soft butter, plus a bit for the cake pan
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1 cup milk at room temperature
4 tablespoons semisweet chocolate, chopped by hand in small pieces
Garnish: powdered sugar or whipped cream
Recommended Equipment
A 10-inch springform cake pan
A heavy-duty electric mixer fitted with the whisk
Chop the hazelnuts in a food processor or mini-chopper to small bits—not to a powder. Set aside. Whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Butter and flour the cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350˚ with a rack in the center.
In the mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light, smooth, and fluffy; scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Incorporate the eggs, olive oil, and orange zest in several additions, blending each in at slow speed, scraping the bowl, then beating at high speed for a couple of minutes to lighten.
On slow speed, incorporate the dry mix in several additions, alternating with splashes of milk. Scrape the bowl when both are added, and beat briefly on high. Fold in the chopped nuts and chocolate by hand, and blend in well.
Scrape the batter into the cake pan, and smooth the top. Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, about 45 minutes. The top should be lightly browned and just spring back to a light touch.
Cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes or so, remove the side ring of the springform, and let the cake cool completely. Cut in wedges, and serve topped with powdered sugar or whipped cream.
The torte will keep in the refrigerator for a week, well wrapped in plastic, or you can freeze it for longer storage. When serving torte that has been chilled or frozen, toast the cut pieces in the oven (or toaster oven) to bring out the flavors.
Recipe courtesy of:


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