Back in November of 2014, I had the pleasure of going to Vienna, Austria for a much needed vacation from work. And to this day I still wonder why I came back. Vienna undoubtedly ranks high among the most cultured cities in Europe. From its musicians, museums, and opera houses to its restaurants, cafes, and shops; everything in this city makes you feel alive. The focus of my trip was to enjoy as much food and culture as my budget allowed. I went to the famous Sacher Hotel Cafe, the well renowned Figlmüller restaurant that serves the famous Wiener schnitzel, the Stephansdom, and countless other places. I visited several museums including the Belvedere (where I got the chance to see a temporary exhibition of famed artist Claude Monet’s work and of course the works of Gustav Klimt) . Only one word can describe that place: spectacular. I also got the chance to attend a Strauss and Mozart inspired concert at the Kursalon. Best of all was when the opera singer started singing O mio babbino caro out of nowhere as part of the last minute opera picks. Being in Vienna meant that I had to go to the Vienna State Opera. And coincidentally the ballet Romeo and Juliet was having its last show that night. One other thing I do recommend is taking the horse drawn carriage tours through the city. They’re parked around St. Stephen’s cathedral and it’s a great way to unplug and put your phone away (sort of) and just enjoy your beautiful surroundings.
It is pretty easy for a tourist to understand Vienna’s public transportation. They have one of the most complex public transport systems. You can take buses, trams, trains, and the metro; but best of all you never need to take a taxi because the other methods are so detailed and they get you everywhere. While the U-Bahn runs inside the city, the S-Bahn runs outside the city borders. and if thats not enough there are trams and buses running above ground. Vienna also has a special train that runs between the city and airport. It takes less than 20 minutes and it connects you to other U-Bahn lines for intercity travel.
Shopping in Vienna is a true joy because everywhere you go you will find something you’ll want to buy. The shopping squares around the city are so beautiful I even enjoyed walking through on Sunday, a day where everything closes. If you’re looking to do some culinary shopping, Saturdays will be your best days to do so as they have weekly Farmer’s Markets with fresh produce and home made goods. I scored some black truffles at one of those markets, so keep your eyes open. The Naschmarkt is a treasure trove of shops and restaurants combined from all over the world. You will find every possible ingredient along with any restaurant whose food you might be craving.
Since I was there mid November I missed the Christmas markets by a week. But that didn’t stop me from searching for places that were selling ornaments. And I found this tiny shop that sold all sorts of Christmas tree ornaments. The lady there had every possible ornament you could think of. Fruits, vegetables, baby Jesus, adult Jesus, santas, snowmen, birds, bugs, and even pickles. It was a true treasure to have found a place like this. Ask the lady, she sure was happy swiping my credit card after I was done there. I even went twice. This shop happened to be right next to the Figlmüller. I went there with a friend (aka, Chris) that was briefly working there. We ordered the only thing you should order there. The Wiener schnitzel. It was so big, it was overhanging the plate. A true delight, I recommend you order some jam to go with the schnitzel. Now, I do feel obligated to warn you that the schnitzel is pork. So beware. I also treated myself to a lunch at this very cozy restaurant called Zum weissen Rauchfangkehrer and I bet you’re thinking, WTF, well in english it means the white chimney sweep. It was the best restaurant experience I had had in a while. I ordered a set menu and you can find the courses and their pictures in the gallery below.
Sachertorte, contrary to popular belief, is not a dry crummy chocolate cake with jam inside. It is the exact opposite. But only if you eat it at the original Sacher hotel cafe. I went there one afternoon and the place was buzzing with people from all over. I ordered their foie gras terrine and although what i got looked like a dessert, it was a true masterpiece. The flavors were so well balanced and delightful i didn’t want to stop eating. I washed it down with a glass of prosecco, and then proceeded to order the sachertorte. It is served with the best whipped cream you’ll ever eat. I also ordered the sacher kaffee.
One last culinary delight I forgot to mention are all the frankfurters being sold out of tiny kiosks on every block. Any place you go to will have something delicious. Some are stuffed with cheese, some are sweet, some are salty. All i know is that these piggies will make you go to town. These kiosks exist even after all the other shops and restaurants have closed so you can get a fixin’ for your munchies. Ask my friend Chris, he’ll tell you all about it.
I’ve been to Vienna twice in my life and I sure would not hesitate to go again. That is how amazing that city is, not to mention Austria as a whole. My best advice? Get yourself a good map of the city and don’t stop walking around, because exploring a city is best done on foot and not inside a car or bus.
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