Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Lets find a Cafe (or tearoom)

Locations of reviewed cafes

For more information on the Cafes I have visited and the latest cafe cycle news go to http://www.cake-crusader.co.uk/

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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Can't sit down (Austrian and Slovenian cafes)

Slovenian 'High Altitude' training camp

Day 3
Today was the third and final day of my ironman altitude training and European cafe cycle mash up. After two days of serious climbing I had promised Andrew (who is notoriously hard to please) a much flatter day. We were to head to a lake in Austria and cycle round it on the theory that lakes must be put somewhere flat to stop all the water running out. The plan was to check out Austrian lakeside cafes before returning to Slovenia to revisit Hotel Vitranc the Cake Crusader European cafe of the year 2014.

The only issue was we in Slovenia and Austria was the other side of the mountain. This meant we had to start the day going over the Wurzenpass. We had done it the other way round on day 1 and discovered that a 4 mile climb with 18 % parts and lots of sharp bends is rather challenging. Andrew has had difficulty getting over it, literally on the day and since by moaning about how hard it was all the time. However today we would be going the other way which is a much easier climb as we start much higher up in Slovenia.

We therefore reached the top with surprising ease and I was able to take a deserted boarding crossing black and white photo from the opposite side.
Deserted boarder crossing, in black and white, on way to Italy
However we still had to tackle the descent down. This was the scariest experience of the trip as you can pick up a lot of speed going down a hill that steep and if it ends in a hairpin bend then it gets a bit tricky. We were not helped by our motor biking friends insisting on overtaking everything coming up the hill and heading straight for us. Needless to say I had very sore hands from gripping the brakes very tightly when we eventually got down. 
Going down Wuzenpass which is much steeper than it looks in phot
From here, after some tricky navigation around the motorway and a busy road, it was a fairly flat ride through the Austrian town of Villach to the northern side of lake Ossiach.
Centre of Villach in Austria
The main excitement on route was seeing eggs for sale allowing me to put out my first international Egg news flash on my Twitter feed. As yet it has not gone viral.
European egg news
The ride round the lake proved disappointing due to all prime lakeside real estate being full of houses so that, although there was a good cycle path, you could only get the odd glimpse of the water.
Rare glimpse of lake from cycle path
All the lakeside cafes we passed were either part of campsites, which Andrew refused to go near, or looked overly touristy. We then spotted something on the other side of the road so decide to try there instead.

It was Urbani wirt cafe in the village of St Urban. Wikipedia research tells you that Saint Urban is the patron saint of built up areas but as a little village by a big lake isn't at all built it was surprising that he came from here.
Ready to find a seat in impressive and shady outside seating area
The cafe itself had a shady outside seating area with the only distraction being the nearby road. An added bonus was the waiter and waitress wore traditional lederhosen to give an authentic feel and therefore a good atmosphere and ambience (AAA) score.

Sadly they had no hot chocolate so I thought I would try the tea and some strudel. Andrew had cappuccino and a cheese toastie.

I was very impressed with my tea that came in a mixing bowl. It was nice but at the end of the day just a cup of tea. My strudel was excellent but Andrew found his cheese toastie to be only fine. However overall good scores and a high position in my growing European cafe list.
Tea served in a mixing bowl
After our stop we got to the far end of the lake and headed up into foothills which had a bit of climbing but nothing too difficult compared with our hour plus up hill experiences of the previous days. It was completely different scenery being much more open than on our proper mountain trips.
Flatter Austrian terrain
During this part of the ride Andrew insisted on an unscheduled 10 minute break to admire the view and soak up the scenery. Apparently this is something called a rest. I had no idea why you would want to do this as it did not add to our total miles, metres climbed or average speed stats, but I reluctantly agreed he could have 5 minutes whilst I twiddled my thumbs and looked at maps and data.
Andrew taking a break on the village green
When we eventually set off again we were now on the south side of the lake and in search of a late lunch.
South side of lake which was again a little way from the cycle path
After a while we chose to try cafe Gasthaus Messnai at Bade Strand as it had a lake view and wasn't too busy. Sadly my lake view was obscured by a fruit tree which I think they should cut down. Andrew felt that moving my chair might be a better option but it wasn't me who had placed the chair there in the first place.
Outside cafe which was not too busy mid afternoon
I was pleased that hot chocolate was a available although the waitress was not so impressed with Andrew's food choice of salad and chips. Like me she was probably worried that salad and chips was not really enough fuel for the remaining 40 miles of ride, especially in these temperatures and after he had already needed to do that funny rest thing earlier. She would be proved right.

Despite my hot chocolate looking anaemic it was quite nice as was Andrews cappuccino. I had tortellini and chips for lunch which was fairly nice so overall, despite the fruit tree issue and lack of lederhosen, it was another good cafe score.
Rather milky looking hot chocolate
We set off again and rode through Villach back to the Wurzenpass. Here we had a choice of 10 miles up and over or 20 miles going gently up and round. Andrew went for the twenty mile option, and although I didn't let on I was relieved.
Approaching the infamous and very tough to cycle up, Wuzenpass
However it was still hard work and the temperature was now over 30c. It took a while to reach the Austrian/Italian boarder and a last deserted boarder crossing black and white photo.
Final deserted boarder crossing black and white experience on the trip
With just 6 miles to go it was clear the mixed salad and chips had run out as Andrew did the unthinkable and asked if we could stop for another rest. Before agreeing I tried some of my legendary motivational skills by suggesting he 'man up as he was cycling like a whining toddler' but surprisingly this didn't appear to help and we were forced to stop.
Andrew having a rest
Cycling guest cycling top tip no 31 To enjoy a cycle ride without the need for unscheduled stops or rests then make sure you eat more than a mixed salad and chips for lunch.

When Andrew finally announced this rest thing was over we set off again on a final push to the hotel Vitranc in Podkoren. This had previously been awarded Cake Crusader European cafe of the year 2014. I had emailed them their winners certificate but surprisingly they had never responded. I had therefore brought out a certificate with me to personally hand over.
Outside the award winning Hotel Vitranc
Whilst we waited to find someone to give the certificate to I ordered a hot chocolate and strudel only to find they had run out of both. I went for pancakes instead. Andrew had another cappuccino and also had pancakes to help refuel him.
Pancakes was only sweet food available
The food and drinks were nice but due to lack of options their new rating knocked them off the top of the best cafe cycle in Europe spot. As there was no one at reception and they had lost their top spot I decided not to give them the certificate after all but took a photo of me with it for the records.
Outside hotel Vitranc with their winners certificate 
We now just had a couple of miles left but by now we were both so saddle sore we couldn't sit down for the rest of the ride home. After over 260 miles and up a lot of climbs my backside is very happy to be travelling home with me tomorrow rather than spending more time on the bike. However it has been a very successful trip both from a training and high cafe caliber view with a special thanks to my cycling guest for his input.

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