Willkommen zum Mastication Monologues! Today’s post is part 4 in my throwback Europe series where I recall my various excursions throughout the continent during my time abroad in 2008-2009. I’ve been going through my Eastern European adventures so far, and today’s post creeps a bit further west. Kevin, his girlfriend, and I had decided to travel throughout Eastern/Central Europe for our Spring Break, so we started in Hungary, moved to Poland (post coming soon), moved onto Slovakia (this post), and ended in the Czech Republic. However, today’s post talks about our brief visit to Vienna via Slovakia, so let’s start with the latter.
Slovakia is the less popular part of the former binary state known as Czechoslovakia up until the fall of the Iron Curtain. I mean, the Czech Republic has the whimsical and enchanting capital city of Prague, great beer, and a pretty good hockey team. While Slovakia is only popular for its dreariness as portrayed in the movie Eurotrip. The actual Slovak capital was quite the opposite. Not only were there no grown men scrubbing themselves down, I didn’t hear one strain of Soviet choir music. Only the finest Eurobeatz the Bratislava dance clubs and grocery stores had to offer. It was in reality a quaint town that wasn’t as awe-inspiring as its bigger Czech brother to the west though. It was relaxing to just walk the streets and take in the more laid back atmosphere which was the opposite of Prague’s congested walkways. I think the highlight of Bratislava was the friend I made at our hostel. He was about two feet tall, covered in hair, and had severely bowed legs. His name was Tyson the bulldog, and he was quite the character. He greeted me in the morning when I opened the door like a living, slobbering, sack of potatoes. Talk about hospitality. When Kevin, Daniella, and I were eating breakfast, we were interrupted by a loud noise in the kitchen. It sounded like a dump truck trying to start its engine, and it turned out to be ol’ Tyson hoovering up his food under the table. I really miss that severely inbred little guy.
While it would have been fun walking around with this snuffling gentledog, we took a day trip to Vienna.
The Austrian capital was just like Prague in the sense that there were a billion tourists snapping pictures of everything around them which made walking a chore, but I did jump for joy when I had the chance. It was unseasonably hot as well, so that caused a bit of frayed nerves as we were sightseeing.
Luckily, I only wanted to do one thing while in Vienna on our condensed timetable: try the Sachertorte. In Vienna, there is a very famous hotel called the Hotel Sacher, and it is known for making a world renowned chocolate cake without equal, i.e. the Sachertorte. It’s a dessert that originally was commissioned by Prince Klemens von Metternich who was quite possibly one of the most important statesmen of 19th Century Europe aside from perhaps Napoleon or Otto Von Bismarck. His head chef fell ill, so the responsibility for creating a dessert for his esteemed guests at a dinner party fell to the chef’s 16 year old apprentice, Franz Sacher. It was extremely popular, but its popularity didn’t explode until Sacher’s grandson made the cake for his hotel, Hotel Sacher, in 1876. The rest is history. We entered the monstrously large hotel and had the option of being seated in sumptuous surroundings or outside. The weather outside was better, so we sat outside. We looked over the menu, and it elaborated on the struggle between Demel Bakery and Hotel Sacher as to who serves the “real” Sacher Torte. Who knows which establishment utilizes the true secret recipe? When it came out, it was a perfect slice of cake composed of two layers of apricot jam, three layers of sponge cake, and triple chocolate frosting with a side of unsweetened whipped cream. It was a simple but very rich cake. I’m never a huge fan of jam and cake combined, so I think the apricot took away from the overall dessert. The cake itself was a bit dry, but the frosting was the icing on the cake (pun intended). Overall, it wasn’t the best cake I’ve ever tried, but it’s something that you kind of have to do in Vienna to taste a bit of local history in one of the most opulent hotels I’ve set foot in.