I’ve been wanting to head over to Vienna for quite a while now but for some reason I just kept postponing it. Until recently that is! Yes, I had a full 48 hours for a Vienna city trip and I squeezed every last minute out of it ;)
I arrived very early and was ready to get going, but the Viennese like the good life, so most museums and places of interest don’t open before 10:00 .so sleep in or go out for a scrumptious breakfast, say for example at Café Central, one of Vienna’s most renowned cafes. I had some rauerlach (smoked salmon) and toast and I so loved that even though I ordered a regular capu they still sprinkled some actual chocolate on top, none of that cocoa bull here ;)
My plan was to visit The Jewish Museum but alas I was too early so instead I found myself wandering towards the Jesuit Church (Universitätskirche) which is so so pretty and has free entrance. Have a look, soak in the immense sense of peacefulness and gaze at the beautiful murals. Next I headed over to St. Stephens Cathedral to have a stunning view of the city from one of its towers. The pretty roof tiles made it look like a gingerbread house, but actually that’s the Imperial and Court double-headed eagle you’re looking at.
Of course I was ready and waiting at 12:00 pm to watch the Anker clock at Hoher Markt do it’s magic. Together with a bunch of other tourists I waited for the 12 figures to come to life. The clock was a bit slow and I tried recording all of it, but my arm was ready to fall off so I gave up at the sixth figure. Lol. It was still very pretty though. They just don’t make stuff like this anymore.
Now if you must torture yourself, you can do some window-shopping at the Kohlmarkt, but what you really should be doing is have a well-deserved break. Go indulge in one of the beautiful cakes from Demel, the Imperial and Royal Court confectionary baker. Sit on the terrace, bask in the sun and cake away. I had an amazing raspberry cake that consisted of so many layers and techniques I was immediately motivated to try it at home. They also serve amazing ice-cream inspired drinks (no it’s not a milkshake!) as Demel once started their shop selling frozen produce.
Because I still had some time to kill before the guided tour at the Wiener State Opera House I decided to check out The Sisi museum. It was absolutely crazy to walk around the excessively lavishly decorated rooms knowing that this was how empress Elisabeth had actually lived. The guided tour at the opera house was also very interesting especially if you don’t have the opportunity to attend an opera performance. It’s a stunning building and def the place to go to. As one of my box mates later phrased “A lot of the other opera performances are just for the tourists, but the performances here are truly authentic and would still go on if there wasn’t a tourist in sight.”
Vienna being the birthplace of one of the most famous cakes in the world, I had to go and try me some Sacher torte at the one and only Sacher Café. The story goes that this secret recipe was created by 16-year-old apprentice chef Franz Sacher when important guests were to be entertained but the head chef fell ill. Oh the drama. He then came up with the recipe for this famous cake made with chocolate, apricot and whipped cream and the rest is history. The café is of course posh as hell, staff in old fashioned uniforms and lots of bling. So because I deserved it, I ordered some champagne to wash down that world-famous cake. It was such a horrid, horrid experience, you must go and try it yourself.
I did a quick stroll accros the Naschmarkt and was able to nibble and taste a bit of all the different stalls. Having had my fill of cake I didn’t stop to eat but there were certainly a few spots that caught my eye. A quick shower and a change of clothes and I was rushing back to the opera house again. I had purchased a super inexpensive ticket online and said a lil prayer in hopes that not all seats would’ve been sold. Luck was not on my side but nevertheless I enjoyed the opera. It was a classic piece Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss and even though my German is rusty I could still make out some of it. Also another cheapskate tip, I’ve been told that they also sell standing tickets on the day of the opera for as little as €4.
After the opera I was sooo hungry and headed over to Griechenbeisl for a late night meal. It came highly recommended by my uncle (a true Austrian) and it’s Vienna’s oldest restaurant, so I had high expectations. Of course I had to order the Wiener Schnitzel (when in Rome, I mean Vienna) but I’d seen one pass me by and it was huge! So even though I really wanted some kartoffelsalat (potato salad) I opted for modesty and just stuck with the schnitzel. It was indeed huge and was served with nothing but parsley and a wedge of lemon, as it should be. It tasted yum, super crispy yet still tender and moist on the inside. Definitely a good note to end my day on.
The next morning I had a cheapskate breakfast with unlimited supply of coffee (yeah) at my hostel. Btw this Wombat’s hostel was amazing! They had everything figured out and it was beyond spotless. Would def stay again. After breakfast, or coffee, call it what you may, I headed over to the Museum Quarter to check out some Klimt at the Leopold Museum. Gustav Klimt is most likely one of Austria’s most famous artists, there are many places in Vienna you can spot his work, like the Belvedere and the MAK but as I had limited time I went with the Leopold. They also had a really cool exhibit of wax sculptures by Berlinde de Bruyckere, truly impressive.
For lunch I spoiled myself at Steirereck, currently listed as #9 of the world’s best restaurants and proud holder of two Michelin stars. Going for lunch at Michelin restaurants is a cheapskate trick I picked up in Japan where even the most expensive restaurants have amazing lunch offers at a fraction of their regular prices. Unfortunately that didn’t really work out at the Steirereck as they also charge a service fee and a cover fee. Lol. I still very much enjoyed my lunch here. The service was excellent, from the beautiful décor, the large selection of bread to the glove wearing waiters, everything was exquisite. I ordered ala carte and started with a Viennese wedding soup with a liver dumpling and minced spleen toast, next I had the veal beusherl with chive dumplings and as desert I had the hemp seed soufflé. I must say that the dish I liked the most was also the cheapest; the Viennese wedding soup, the liver was so soft and not at all gamy. All dishes were executed perfectly, well balanced and well-seasoned but I was just missing that oompf. The “surprise” desert was amazing though! They served me the tiniest little citrus tart that was just bursting of flavors.
With my full tummy I strolled past the banks of the river Donau (Danube) and discovered everything from hip and trendy cafes and resto’s to a city beach and lord behold a swimming pool. I know that doesn’t sound too impressive, a swimming pool, you have those at home. But no, you really don’t. Never before had I seen a boat on a river with a swimming pool in it… on it… I don’t even know. And none of that dodgy river water, I’m talking crisp, clean, blue water. Next time I’m bringing my bikini!
I’ll admit it I was strolling through Mariahilfer Straβe, one of Vienna’s major shopping streets, and stumbled across a Forever21. It’s a weakness I know, but whenever I see one I just have to go in. So I got trapped for a good hour or so. Ssst, don’t tell anyone. Being a cheapskate I did head over to the MAK because it was a Tuesday and on Tuesday evenings it’s free entrance at the MAK from 18:00-22:00 . Yeah, even more Klimt ;) But seriously the MAK is a really cool place and has a lot to see and even do. Currently they’re exhibiting Personal View, the first museum exhibition on the eyewear designs of Robert La Roche. Good fun especially for those fashionista’s out there.
For diner I was going to check out 25Hours, my good friend Raphael, fellow foodie and half-Austrian, recommended it as a trendy spot for food and drinks. I didn’t make it though cause I’d spent too much time at the MAK. Instead I grabbed a quick bite to eat at veggie place that had good reviews but sucked so badly I feel I cannot mention it in good conscience (damn you tripadvisor!). And so my time in Vienna came to an end. What a lovely city. Clean green streets, beautiful architecture and so many lovely cakes!
I hope my Vienna city trip will leave you inspired to visit the city yourself. Of course there’s lots of other stuff I didn’t get to see or do, like visit a heurigen for an Austrian wine garden experience or check out the Rathaus or have some Tafelspitz and more cake. But there’s always next time ;)