The clocks seem to tick slower in Austria. It’s what the high-strung Germans will tell you with a agitated wave of the hand. Indeed, it does seem that time has slowed down, allowing you ample time to inhale the capacious sights this small country in Central Europe offers. The easy going and relaxed nature of the Austrians will make you kick off the hectic and take a step back. You’ll want to, because there is no other way to enjoy Austria. And this is particularly the case in Austria’s beautiful capital, Vienna.
Vienna is a city of diversified facets – a city where the past and present glide effortlessly between each other, where old seamlessly blends into the new and where traditional art and culture provides a sound basis for contemporary design and creativity. It’s a city that will have you in awe as you discover its many facets.
Although I’d been to Austria several times, I never quite made it to Vienna. I lamented often to Tom last year, who spent a few months working on a project there. How I wanted to walk the old cobble streets around the Stephansdom, saunter the courtyards of the Hofburg Palace and indulge in the amazing ambiance of the Naschmarkt. However, the plans we made last year somehow did not pan out. So, I was ecstatic when Tom decided to whisk me off to a spontaneous weekend getaway for two, to Vienna. I was going to Vienna finally.
Vienna is about a six hour drive from Weimar. We left early Friday afternoon and dropping Soeren off at Chez Grandparents on the way, we continued on down south.
Effectively we only had the entire Saturday for our tour through Vienna and we allowed ourselves to tick according to the clocks in Austria. Starting with a long and relaxing big breakfast of eggs, rolls, sausage and preserves we discussed what we wanted to see. Over steaming cups of thick and frothy Wiener Melange we debated the best route to take.
Finally we decided that the best way to get a good overview of the city and its incredible highlights would be to take a short bus tour. Vienna Sightseeing Tours offers a perfect solution with the Hop on Hop off bus tour. The short tour costs €13 and takes you to the most important sights in the city. You’ll be able to see the Hofburg, the Museums, the Parliament, the City Hall, the Burgtheater, the University, and the St. Stephan's Cathedral. The buses depart regularly from the State Opera and tickets can be bought directly at the bus stop.
Hop on Hop off Tours
Price: Adults: 1 hour € 13, Children: € 7
The tour gave us a quick insight on many of the places we wanted to take a closer look at, also enabling us to circle those points on the map for our own walking tour.
The first point of our walking tour was the Stephansdom. The Gothic cathedral towers above the city center, defining the Viennese skyline. Built in 1147 AD this famous Viennese cathedral was at the time, the uncontested highest building in Europe, measuring almost 137 m.
Many art treasures lie within the cathedral and a definitely worth the time. The tomb of Prince Eugene of Savoy (1754), the Altarpiece of Wiener Neustadt, the pulpit by Anton Pilgram (1514-15), the sepulcher of Emperor Frederik III by Niclas Gerhaert (1467-1513), the watchman`s lookout, a self portrait of the sculptor, and the Gothic winged altar can all be viewed inside this impressive cathedral.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
1010 Wien, Austria
Telephone: +43 1 5 15 52 35 26
Our next destination was the Naschmarkt, with stopovers at a few points of interest en route. Walking down the Kärntner Straße we were able to glimpse into the famous Cafe Sacher: the home to the Original Sacher Torte, along the way. While I was very impressed at being able to step into such a traditional and famous coffee house, remembering my days in the pastry kitchen making the famed Sacher Torte, I was not keen at spending too much time here. It’s a tourist attraction and usually always full, so my tip would be to go in have a look and take in the ambience but for coffee and cake there are a many gorgeous little coffee shops dotted all around the city.
Café Sacher Wien
Telephone: +43 1 51 45 60
As we headed further down the Kärntner Straße we came to our next point of interest the breathtaking Karlskirche situated at one of Vienna's central nodes, the Karlsplatz. The spectacular Baroque church is the biggest cathedral of its kind north of the Alps.
The unusually wide front of this church is composed of a number of contrasting elements which surprisingly adds to the unique and harmonic overall image. Two colums with an allegoric representation of the life of Saint Borromeo are reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance Trajan column. These columns frame the main portal which resembles a Greek temple.
1040 Wien, Austria
Telephone +43 15 04 61 87
Just a stone’s throw away from the Karlskirche is the amazing Naschmarkt and one of the three places I was looking forward to most in Vienna. My photos below probably show my passion for markets and contrary to Tom saying “If you’ve seen one food market, you’ve seen them all!”, the Naschmarket has been on top of my list for several years.
The Naschmarkt is more than just a regular market: it’s very much a Viennese institution, which dates back to the 16th century. During the 19th century Vienna’s second river, the Weinfluss was roofed over and a few dealers set up their stalls on top of the roof – the rest, as they say is history.
Today, Naschmarkt is a unique mixture of Austrian traditions fused with oriental influences. One could actually say Viennese shrewdness meets bazaar mentality. You will find pretty much everything the heart desires from exotic fruit and vegetables to delicious pastries, olive oils, meat, fish and other delicacies.
We literally ate our way through the Naschmarket, tasting and testing several products from the eager vendors. Ripe fruit and decadent torrone, spiced tea and warming Thai soup, succulent dates and garlicky bread, our lunch was plentiful and varied!
Lucky for me it was a Saturday and I was delighted to be able to stroll Vienna's major flee market, which is located right next to the Naschmarket and sells anything from junk to antiques. Prop heaven!
1040 Wien, Austria
+43 1 5 85 08 23
I was also delighted to see the fantastic Zotter Schoko Company’s incredible shop at the Naschmarkt. Feeling like “Charlie” in the chocolate factory I could not get enough of the extensive chocolate assortment before me. Not only did they have the Labooko bars, the rich drinking chocolate, the balleros and the round MitziBlue bars, but the shop also had a coffee shop where small pastries and chocolate delicacies could be enjoyed over cups of chocolate coffee.
Zotter Schoko Company
Wiener Naschmarkt, stand 326 – 331
+43 1 5 85 81 95
Feeling elated after spending a few hours at the Naschmarkt – and Tom admitting that it was quite a novel experience, we headed towards our next destination: the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hofburg Palace. Both Tom and I were quite excited to experience the exceptional and very extensive artwork gathered by the Habsburgs as they added new territories to their empire.
Numerous major art works of European art history, among them Raphael’s Madonna in the Meadow, Vermeer’s The Allegory of Painting, Van Dyck’s Venus in the Forge of Vulcan, or Peter Paul Rubens's Self-Portrait and Woman with a Cape are all housed in the paintings gallery. The Rembrandt collection includes two remarkable self-portraits as well as a moving portrait of his mother and one of his sons, Titus, while the paintings of Albrecht Dürer, known for his innovative art and his painstakingly detailed workmanship, includes the incredible Blue Madonna.
You’ll certainly need time to really enjoy and appreciate these treasures as you discover fantastic highlights at every turn.
Museum of Fine Arts – Vienna
1010 Wien, Austria
Telephone: +43 1 52 52 40
Across from the museum is the impressive Hofburg Palace, which was the center of the vast empire of the Habsburg dynasty. The Hasburgs developed this Imperial Palace, once envisioned to be a great "Imperial Forum", from the "Old Palace", dating from the thirteenth century, to the most recent part, dating from the time around 1900. Today, this location houses more than two dozen top museum collections, including the Imperial Apartments, Imperial Treasury, Museum of Ethnography and the Spanish Riding School. In addition to this, there are cafés, restaurants, squares, and parks.
Hofburg - Imperial Palace
Hofburg – Michaelerkuppel
Telephone: +43 1 5 33 75 70
It was time to put up our feet and relax – we deserved it. We wanted to indulge in the typical Viennese coffee house culture, and made our way up the Kohlmarkt headed towards Der Demel.
Hofzuckerbäckerei Demel is one of the more famous and traditional pastry shops and chocolatiers in Vienna. Founded in 1786, it was a purveyor to the Imperial and Royal court of Austria-Hungary and was headed by the Demels until 1972. It is still located in its original building after Christof Demel, moved it to the Kohlmarkt in 1857.
Visitors to the Demel shop can enjoy a luxurious ambient set in the historic salons on the ground floor and indulge in a selection of varied products that have been poured, filled and formed by hand for over 200 years. Classics such as cat tongues, tea scones and the Demel Sacher Torte will entice you to sojourn a little longer.
Tom and I found a quaint table at one of the salons in the back and snuggled into one of the spacious sofas. We selected slices of decadent and rich chocolate truffle cake and naturally, Sacher Torte. The waitress brought the cakes on elegant china and served us steaming cups of delicious and strong coffee. Time ticked slowly and we were enjoying each minute without a care.
Ku.K (Imperial and Royal) Court Confectionary Bakery
Ch. Demel’s Sons Ltd.
Tel: +43 1 53 51 71 70
Our last stop was the Mozart House before we headed out of Vienna to the wine area.
Although Mozart lived at a dozen different addresses around Vienna, the only apartment that has survived to this day is at Domgasse number 5, not far from the Stephansdom. Here Mozart lived from 1784 till 1787 and his apartment on the first floor was simply grand, with four large rooms, two small ones and a kitchen. The museum occupies an extensive 1,000 square meters on six levels and Tom and I immersed ourselves in the vibrant world of Mozart. With the digital guide we were able to experience his incredible life, be a part of his creativity, music and became acquainted with his family and friends.
1st district, Domgasse 5
Telephone: +43 1 5 12 17 91
Evening was approaching and I had a date with my hot husband. He had planned to give me a wonderfully unique foodie experience.
Vienna is the only metropolis in the world that cultivates wine within its city limits and where best to enjoy the local harvest than at heurige, or one of the local wine taverns? As Tom had spent a few moths in Vienna he knew of a few and had arranged for a table at one of the few that were open at this time of the year.
Heurige first originated from wine farmers who found a way to conveniently purge remaining surplus. By hanging fir tree branches out front, they signaled that the farms were ausg’steckt, i.e. open for business and serving beverages to customers, who brought their own food.
The name heurige is derived from the heurige wines it served, the young wines of this year (heuer in Austrian means this year), most typically Grüne Veltliner. While traditional food at these establishments are cold cuts like ham with dark bread from a help-yourself buffet, nowadays, almost all offer warm food, if not even gourmet cuisine, and the wine selection can be extensive and sophisticated.
The Wannemacher Winery, located in Hagenbrunn just a 30 minute drive from Vienna, produces elegant Rieslings, fruity Sauvignon Blanc and full bodied Traminer and we spent the whole evening testing and tasting. Sur Schnitzel was on our dinner menu with sides of salads and potatoes. Once you have experienced (and actually managed to consume the huge portion) a sur schnitzel you’ll forget its more famous counterpart the Wiener Schnitzel. A sur schnitzel is a pork escalope, usually only available at a heurige, which is cured then prepared in the traditional way of coating the meat in breadcrumbs and frying. The curing process adds an exceptional flavor.
Telephone: +43 22 62 67 27 95
Even the slowest of clocks pick up pace and begin ticking faster, reminding us that our wonderful weekend in Vienna was coming to an end. This so called “adult weekend” for Tom and myself was much needed. Being separated during the week and playing the “family” role on the weekends, we needed that time away to remind us of how valuable time for two is. It was almost like a little honeymoon and we came back feeling fresh, invigorated and happy to have each other.
I hope you enjoyed taking this virtual trip to Vienna with me. If you are planning a trip to this lovely city, do take time to plan it out carefully. There is so much to see and do in Vienna and the points of interest in this post were only just a teaser of what Vienna offers. I’d also like to take the opportunity to thank Zita of Zizi Kalandjai for sharing a few of the foodie dos in Vienna.
In other news ….
Plate to Page
We’ve also secured an absolutely stunning location for the Fall Plate to Page Workshop in Tuscany, Italy. Want a sneak peek? We present Il Salicone. The dates: 28 – 30 October 2010.
The lovely Astrid is the first guest hostess for 2011. She’s invited us all to join her in preparing Small Bites – Soul Food for your Loved ones. This mingle runs throughout February and we really hope you can join us.
If you want to keep tabs on where the next mingle is I’ve just posted the 2011 Monthly Mingle Calendar. Come on over and check out all my gorgeous Miss Monthly Mingles 2011!
11th Annual Weblog Awards – Bloggies
Yes, I would lie if I said it did not move me – but it does and I am elated to be one of the top five finalists for the category Best European Blog at the 11th Annual Weblog Awards. It’s a huge honor for me to be in that list. If you have a few minutes, please do vote for What’s For Lunch, Honey? in the category Best European Blog.
I’ll be back next week with something different to tempt your sweet tooth. A special Valentine’s treat! Have a super fun and relaxed weekend!
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