Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Waltzing in Vienna

After visiting Budapest and Prague, with an adventurous train ride in between the two, Vienna was the last stop.
When I think of Austria, the first thing that comes to mind are famous classical musicians like Mozart, Strauss, and Schubert. I also think about The Sound of Music, strudel, schnitzel, and Arnold Schwarzenegger (I know, I know). Based on pictures, I knew Vienna was a beautiful city, but beyond that I wasn't sure what to expect.

In my experience, I found Vienna to be simultaneously very sophisticated while also being very pleasant and livable. That's a tough combination to master, but Vienna did it with ease.

Before I continue - I need to give a shout out to Adam's colleague, Deepthi. She studied abroad in Vienna a few years ago, and gave us a list of local recommendations which were amazingly helpful. Many thanks, Deepthi!!!

Here are highlights from the time in Vienna. [Once again, cue the onslaught of photos.]

Stephansdom
St. Stephen's Cathedral was a gorgeous example of Gothic architecture. It was the epicenter of activity in Stephansplatz (the central square in Vienna), and drew enormous crowds.
Adam and I went up to the top of one of the towers. Here's a view of the Stephansdom's stunning tiled roof, which depicts the coats of arms for both the city of Vienna and the Republic of Austria. Suffice to say, this is the most patriotic roof I've ever seen.
Here is the view of the Vienna cityscape from the roof:
The inside of the cathedral:
One of the religious artifacts inside the cathedral:
Schloss Schönbrunn
I had commented to Adam that seeing all the castles in Budapest and Prague was making me feel like a peon. The jawdropping palaces in Vienna sure did not help that cause. =)

The Schönbrunn Palace is a former summer imperial residence in Vienna. Here are some outside views from the palace gardens:


The palace has 1,441 rooms (yes, I looked it up just now). Adam and I did a self-guided tour which took us through 40 rooms. Just seeing those 40, it got to the point where I thought they were going to run out of names for each room.

We weren't allowed to take pictures of the inside, so here are a couple of pictures from the Schonnbrunn's website:
Source
Source
As you can tell - the rooms were extremely lavish. Definitely fit for royalty!

Naschmarkt
The Naschmarkt is an open-air market with an enormous range of local food, shops, restaurants, and cafes. This was my favorite of everything we saw and experienced in Vienna. I loved exploring all the colorful aisles, hanging out at the outdoor seating areas watching the world go by, and mingling with the locals.

Here are some snapshots of the food and produce:

A view of some of the restaurants with their outdoor seating:
Adam and I popped into one of the cafes. Here he is enjoying an Eiskaffee, which was essentially iced coffee mixed with an enormous scoop of ice cream and whipped cream. Not surprisingly he said it was the best Eiskaffee he's ever had. =)
I had an apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce, which was so delicious. (I included a picture of it below under "Food.")

SIDE NOTE: I took 4 years of German in high school. I was really happy to be able to dust it off and use it in Vienna. I know I speak with a ridiculously strong American accent and I probably butchered my grammer and tenses to complete oblivion - but in the end, I was able to communicate. Yay!

Concerts
Vienna is very famous for its fine arts. Sure enough, opportunities to see classical concerts and other theatrical productions in Vienna abounded everywhere. It was by far the biggest and most prominent fine arts scene I've ever experienced in any city. We were in Vienna for three nights and saw a show every night.

During the summer, the Vienna State Opera House was broadcasting live opera productions on a big outdoor screen. We caught a viewing of Madame Butterfly (what a tragic opera, wow!) amidst a large crowd of folks.
We saw a string quartet at the Palais Schönborn:
and we saw a Vivaldi concert at the Stephansdom:
Adam and I wanted to see a production at the Burgtheater, which we understood to be a world-reknown venue. However, during our visit the Burg was showing a comedic German play. Since we wouldn't understand the play, we opted instead to take a tour of the theater. The first word that comes to mind when describing the theater is "regal."


Our Burgtheater tour guide was exceptionally knowledgeable. She knew everything about every single nook and cranny, and even explained the behind-the-scenes production operations. It was an extraordinary learning experience.

Mozart
I took piano lessons for almost 20 years growing up, and Mozart was one of my favorite composers. It was fun seeing all the homages to him around Vienna:
The Mozarthaus was Mozart's residence for three years. Today it is a museum.
The Stephansdom has a memorial to Mozart, where his funeral occurred
Food
Adam and I went to a local restaurant called Lugeck to try some classic Austrian food. When in Wien, of course you have to try the wienerschnitzel:
We also tried some "Emperor's goulash" with spaetzle:
Thou shalt not go to Austria without splurging on a Sachertorte from the Hotel Sacher:
and as I mentioned above, I got an apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce, which was spectacular. It was easily the best thing I ate in Vienna.
Other architectural scenes
Here are a few other examples of the beautiful city architecture and scenes:
St. Peter's Kirche
The Hofburg Imperial Palace
Stephansplatz
Everything else
We ran into a lively street party in one of the squares, hosted by the Viennese firefighters:
This party was jumping!
and finally, since I shared snapshots of the public transit and the manhole covers in both my Budapest recap and my Prague recap, here are the Viennese versions:

In summary, I really enjoyed the time in Vienna and felt very comfortable there. The fine arts influence was spectacular. I thoroughly admired the fabulous mix of old-world and new-world that the city displays so effortlessly.

...and that concludes my travel recaps from this vacation!!! Have I bombarded you with so many pictures that your head is spinning? As per usual, thanks for reading through if you made it this far.

--
Linking up with LaurenVanIsabel and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday; with Chris and HeatherLaurenAshleyAmanda and Brian, and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust; and with Lyn, Arnie and Jo, Sally-Ann, Anda, and Anisa and Katherine for The Weekly Postcard.  

42 comments:

  1. What a wonderful trip! We were in Vienna, oh gosh, 16 years ago?? and, like the rest of Europe, little if anything has changed. I was not a coffee drinker then but I had one in Vienna because you kind of have to. Yes the strudel! Glad you enjoyed!

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    1. The next time we get together, I want to hear more details about when you were living in Europe! I bet you have some amazing experiences to share. The cafe scene in Vienna is huge, so you are right - you kind of have to partake! Thanks Marcia!

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  2. I would have broken out into songs from the Sound of Music! Seriously, tho, I need to go to Germany and Austria. My youngest speaks German, so he could be my translator.

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    1. "The hills are alive, with the sound of MUSIC!!!!" =D Sadly, we didn't have time to visit Salzburg, but it's on the list for the future. =) How cool that your youngest speaks German! He would probably love the opportunity to practice speaking with the locals!

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  3. Vienna is a nice city! nice photos! #wanderfulwednesday

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  4. I took 3 years of German in high school and it never stuck. I was hopeless, so I'd really be the American in Vienna.

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    1. I bet you could still get by on the basics, e.g. saying hello, please, thank you, and ordering food at restaurants! A little bit goes a long way. And everyone there speaks English, too, so even if you can't quite get there in German, they can help make the connection. =)

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  5. That's it! I'm quitting my job and adult responsibilities and going to travel Europe! This all looks amazing!! did you go to the Mozart museum? Whenever my son can't sleep, I play Mozart for him, then we both end up staying up mesmerized by the amazing music!

    I love the pictures of the open market! But I love open markets! It's a shame there isn't' more of them in the US.

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    1. Ana, you wouldn't believe how many times I contemplated quitting my job and adult responsibilities to travel the world. Thank you so much! No, we didn't go into the Mozart museum due to lack of time. That is wonderful that you play Mozart for your son and it transfixes both of you! Mozart truly is a musical genius.

      I LOVE open markets too and also wish there were more of them in the States. The quality and atmosphere there is so much better than in most grocery stores!

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  6. Love the pics of Vienna! Is there any dessert that is better than apple strudel? I think not! Have you been to Julius Meinl here in the city. They are basically the Starbucks of Austria and there only US locations are in Chicago. Also, I think there is an Cafe Vienna on Clark. Never been there but heard it's good!

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    1. Thanks Pete! Yes the apfelstrudel is truly heavenly! Funny you should mention Julius Meinl, I actually went to the Southport location once many years ago. I did see several of their shops in Vienna but didn't realize Chicago was their only US location! Thanks to your tip, I checked out the local menu and found they have apfelstrudel - yay! A dessert run may be in the works for the very near future. =)

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  7. Isn't Austrian food the best? Apfelstrudel with vanilla is seriously to die for! ;)

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    1. It's a wonder the apfelstrudel with vanilla hasn't become a world movement! I do love the schnitzel and sachertorte, too. Austrian food is awesome all around, indeed. =)

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  8. Ahh, Vienna! I was there on my last trip abroad in 2013. I liked the Schonbrunn palace & gardens, and the Sacher Torte, and we also went to a couple art museums, specifically one (the Belvedere I think) to see The Kiss by Klimt which is a favorite. We also loved Salzburg so I hope you make it back there someday. Which is your favorite of the three cities you visited???

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    1. Ahhhh yes - we had heard so much about the Belvedere and The Kiss by Klimt, but didn't have enough time to visit. Thanks - the pictures of Salzburg look stunning so that is awesome that you got to visit! I want to hear more about your travels since it sounds like you've had an amazing array of experiences!!!

      Very tough question regarding the three cities since each is so different. In my opinion, Budapest was the most untouched by tourism, Prague was the most beautiful, and Vienna was the most sophisticated. If I HAD to pick, I'd say Prague by a whisker - but certainly all three cities were so incredible!!!

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    2. I wish I'd had my blog earlier (pre-kids) when I did more travelling. Sometimes I think about recapping earlier trips anyway... Thoughts as a reader? Weird or fun?

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    3. FUN! I LOVE reading travel recaps, whether present or past. So I definitely vote a huge two thumbs up on recapping earlier trips. Would really enjoy hearing about your experiences!

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  9. I was in Vienna two weeks ago. It was my first time I liked the city a lot. We bumped into the Film Festival and watched the offerings for free (and ate in the gastronomic festival on site). The market was nice too.

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    1. Yay, Ruth!!! Glad you enjoyed Vienna!!! Very cool that you were able to take advantage of the Film Festival and eat some of the yummy local treats. There are so many amazing treats in Vienna!!!

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  10. This is amazing and so much fun for me to read (appreciate the shout out). So glad you and Adam had a great time in one of my favorite cities!!

    - Deepthi

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    1. Deepthi!!! Your recommendations were truly the bestest! I was telling Adam that your list was way more helpful than the guidebooks. You got to the point on the best things to see/do/eat and why, whereas the guidebooks would cover a zillion items plus go through all the history, etc. You are very fortunate to have been able to spend so much time in Vienna. Thank you again SO MUCH for your help!!!

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  11. I haven't been back since going there in 2006. Sure looks like you hit it all! Well done :) I fondly remember all the weiner schnitzels... so yummy. #wanderfulwednesday

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    1. Thanks Lillian! Has it changed much from 2006, based on what you saw? Yummmm, wienerschnitzels... so yummy indeed!

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  12. Emily! Gorgeous photos! I would love to visit with the kids someday. Thanks for sharing this. I will bookmark it for a future trip.

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    1. Thank you so much, Betty! Thank you as well for sharing all of your amazing travel experiences. I am taking notes for my own future journeys. =)

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  13. I loved Vienna. I was there for two days in 2008 and I plan to go back someday. Reading about your trip brought back some great memories! #weekendwanderlust

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    1. Thank you, Allison!!! I think Vienna is definitely a city that requires multiple visits! I get the sense that while a lot of it stays the same over the years, other aspects of it continue to evolve. It's a wonderful dichotomy!

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  14. Vienna looks so lovely! I'm hoping we make it out that way next year, it looks like there is plenty to do! Thanks for sharing all your lovely photos. #WeekendWanderlust

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    1. Elizabeth, I hope you get a chance to visit Vienna next year, too, it is a city that has so much depth for exploration. I think you would really enjoy it! Thank you!!!

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  15. I have not yet been to Vienna and I really need to remedy that. It looks lovely, especially the palace. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

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    1. Anisa, I hope you get a chance to remedy that soon! I think you would really enjoy Vienna - it's got so much depth for exploration, and there is truly something for everyone! Thank you!!!

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  16. Vienna is such a beautiful city, and it sounds like you did it up right. I love an apple strudel! Yum.

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    1. Sounds like you have done it up right in Austria, too, by spending time in the Alps and eating Tiroler Gröstl! Apfelstrudel is the ultimate fall comfort food, yes?

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  17. Ah, I love Vienna. Your post reminded me how beautiful this city is. I would love to return there someday. Thank you for joining us for #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Thank you so much for cohosting #TheWeeklyPostcard! I am loving living vicariously through everyone's travel shares!!!

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  18. Hi Emily, thanks for your post. I am intrigued by the produce in your market photos. Is that stuffed fish and stuffed peppers at the front of the shot? The produce looks very diverse. Annette #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. Hi Annette, thank you for reading! Yes, the Naschmarkt had an extremely diverse range of produce and prepared/unprepared foods! That particular photo features all kinds of stuffed bites, e.g. stuffed calamari, stuffed peppers, stuffed olives, stuffed zucchini, stuffed mushrooms, et al. In retrospect I should have checked to see if that vendor specialized in stuffed goods. =)

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  19. The pictures are great!! I am awed by the beauty and the castles and the lavish...it is very lavish. I can not imagine a castle that large LOL
    I love the cafe and streets and seeing the opera on the screen is so cool. Looks like a wonderful experience to me :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Karen! It was certainly a very different lifestyle for the royalties back in the day. Alas, to be a commoner in the current day and age! =D But we are very blessed to have what we have, of course!!! =)

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  20. I'm finally catching up on all these posts and I must say, seeing all these photos is making me go through Europe withdrawals! Vienna was so beautiful, I can easily envision myself living there. We went to many of the same places you did as well, oh and we definitely tried the famous Sacher torte (although we took it to go bc the wait was so long). Ah I'm ready to go back!

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    1. Ahhhh, Irina!!! I am dying to hear more details about your experiences in the three cities!!! I saw your pictures on Instagram and Facebook and it made me go into withdrawal, too. I thought Vienna was very livable, too! What did you think of the Sacher torte? I enjoyed it but it was quite an expensive splurge, so it's probably a one and done for me. Sadness!

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