Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

An American Back in Bavaria / Part # 10 / Hotel Sacher

GAPP Exchange Journal 2014
Part # 10 / Vienna - Hotel Sacher

Colorful Street Cafe at Night
After regrouping on the Stephensplatz we began to make our way to Hotel Sacher, which was located right next to the Vienna State Opera House.  The skies overhead were now darkening but the streets had come alive, illuminated with bright colorful lights.  Again, the streets were full of pedestrians on their way about the city.  Several street performers offered passersby a cheaper alternative to the formal venues for which the city is famous.  We passed by a lone violinist who was barely visible up against a nearby building, faintly revealed by a soft light overhead.  His open instrument case lay open at his feet, hoping for some compensation for his efforts.  Perhaps, he was a hopeful student, working his way from the streets toward the larger stage and mainstream notoriety.  I wish him all the best!  The buildings were interesting to look at, so different back home as everything seemed more orderly, clean, and elegant.  The outdoor sidewalk cafes were still very busy with patrons relaxing, sipping coffee, or ordering light fare.  Thankfully, the heat of the day had subsided with the onset of darkening skies.  Vocal salespersons continued to try and fill any and all open spaces within theaters located throughout the city by calling out to the passing crowds.  A few were even in costume to resemble Mozart himself, hoping to stand out and attract attention.    

 Bright Lights, Big City
We continued on our way through the beautiful streets toward the Hotel Sacher, located in the center of the city.  The weather continued to be very nice and the heat of the summer sun had given way to cooler temperatures.  I was so thankful the weather had cooperated, as this experience would have been totally different with heavy rain and storms.  Walking through the city was so relaxing and calm compared with other cities, most notably due to the fact that there were no cars.  The sound of engines and car horns were replaced with the sound of music and French horns within the pedestrian walkway.  The multiple outdoor cafes provided a great place to relax in the open air of the summer season.  I'm sure it was a totally different atmosphere during the winter months, due to cold temperatures and the absence of most tourist visitors.  However, I would love to visit Germany and Austria during the winter and see the beautiful landscape covered in snow.  The traditional Christmas Markets that arise in most city and town centers during the holiday season would be a top item on my list to see and experience.  

Hotel Sacher's Signature Chocolate Cake
Hotel Sacher is a five star luxury hotel in the heart of the city of Vienna, where a basic room can run you $500 a night.  Over its long history, the famous hotel has served guests from royalty to celebrities including Queen Elizabeth II, John Lennon, Grace Kelly, and John F. Kennedy.  Now they could add the students and chaperones of the GAPP Exchange from Warwick Middle School to their list of distinguished guests, even if we were just stopping in the cafe for dessert.  Wendy had somehow managed to get a reservation for all 20 of us in the hotel's restaurant to experience the famous signature chocolate cake known as Sachertorte.  The most famous culinary dessert in Austria was first created by Franz Sacher for a special reception for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832.  As the story goes, the head chef who was put in charge of creating a special dessert for the prince's reception fell ill and the task was then assigned to his understudy, sixteen year old Franz Sacher.  His chocolate cake creation pleased those who attended the reception but did not become famous until much later.  Franz went on to work in several other cities and eventually returned to his hometown of Vienna, where he opened a deli and raised a family.

Sachertorte Creator / Franz Sacher
Eduard Sacher, who was the oldest son of Franz, continued his father's craft in the food business and attended culinary school in Vienna where he became a pastry chef and chocolatier.  During his studies, he took his father's Sachertorte torte recipe and altered it to create his own version.  It was a hit and served at the famous bakery Demel Bakery in Vienna and eventually became the signature dessert at Hotel Sacher.  Ironically, a legal battle later ensued over which famous location had the legal rights to call their version of the cake The Original Sacher Torte.  The disagreement went on for years, right through World War II and eventually wound up in civil court.  For seven years, the legal battle raged over the naming rights of the cake and even what specific ingredients made up an official and original Sachertorte.  Eventually the dispute was settled out of court in 1963 where both businesses agreed to own the rights to serve a version of the cake and both had the legal right to use a variation of the name.  Today the Demel Bakery serves Eduard Sacher Torte and Hotel Sacher calls their version The Original Sachertorte.  All's well that ends well... as long as it's delicious!

  The Window View from Cafe Sacher
We entered the hotel through a side entrance, which delivered us to the restaurant and cafe.  The interior space was richly decorated with dark wood mahogany walls accented with bright red and pink tones.  It was very beautiful and resembled everything you would expect from a luxury level hotel in Vienna.  This was not your run of the mill economy hotel chain.  We were taken to a cafe seating section that ran parallel with the street outside.  The top half of the large windows were free of glass and the view of the illuminated Vienna State Opera House across the street was beautiful.  It was a dining atmosphere that was unique and nothing like I had ever experienced before now.  We all ordered a slice of sachertorte... Sorry, I legally meant The Original Sachertorte!  The cake arrived with the mug of hot chocolate I had ordered, on a simple white plate accompanied by a white napkin and small dessert fork.  It was very elegant in its simplistic presentation.  Sachertorte is a dense chocolate sponge cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle.  It is topped with a dark chocolate icing, which was accented with a round chocolate candy disc with the words "Hotel Sacher Wien" imprinted on top.  It is traditionally served with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and no matter what you legally call it... delicious is most appropriate.     

Hotel Sacher Restaurant Interior
We had most of the dining area to ourselves and took in the views of the opera house and the street scene outside.  I went off in search of the five star luxury bathrooms and got a view of some of the other areas of the restaurant.  It was really beautiful with oil paintings portraying aristocracy from Vienna's historic past adorning the walls.  The hotel is said to have a small art museum of collected works from the 19th Century but I imagine entrance to view fine art requires more than buying a piece of cake!  It was a really great experience that we all enjoyed very much. You could order a whole cake to go for about $40 but the dining room atmosphere, which you could never get at home, was priceless.  We left Hotel Sacher to go out and explore the night.  Wendy was leading a group of our students who wanted to take advantage of a free music concert outside the Vienna Rathaus, or city hall building.  I was tempted but was more than beat after walking about the city all day and instead, decided to retreat back to the hotel for the night.  I was joined by a few of our students who were also tired and we walked back toward the subway station together.  Along the way we passed by more colorfully lit social spaces and illuminated historic buildings.  I later regretted my decision because the rathaus was such a beautiful building and I never got the chance to view it, other than from a great distance.  It will be a "must see" if I ever get the opportunity to return to Vienna again.

  Vienna State Opera House
Site Facts, Figures, and History
Source / Vienna by Lina Schnorr
Published by Harald Bohm - 2014

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