Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Vienna, Austria

I will warn you - this is a bit of a long post, as it's our entire 4 days in Vienna, all in here we go! 

We arrived from Rotterdam and our tulip adventure pretty late, and were starving and anxious to see some of the city with the night lights on.  We  wandered off to this small restaurant and inn for some traditional Viennese dishes - wiener schnitzel, beef goulash, and potato salad.  Plus we had our first bottle oBlaufränkisch - a light red wine, usually young, and similar in style to Pinot Noir.  Very tasty evening! 

We had to walk dinner off a bit, so we wandered around the main sights, passing by the beautiful Opera House all shining in lights, before turning in.

The very first thing we did on day one was pull up our audio guides from our good buddy, Rick Steves.  First one the list was the Ringstrasse Tram Tour - he told you exactly what tram to get on, and in which direction - even what side of the tram to try to sit on for the best views.  Then he described the sights along the way.  It was a picture perfect day. 

After we did the loop, we pulled up his Vienna City Walk tour, and wandered off, this time on foot. 

We walked by the beautiful St. Stephen's church, as we would come back there after lunch. 

We ducked into Kleines Cafe for a little lunch and a coffee. 

Couple sandwiches, glass of wine, and a traditional Melange coffee, and we were set for the afternoon. 

We finished up our city walk, and headed to the cathedral.  It is absolutely stunning, and massive.  The tile detail on the roof was amazing.  We did the Rick Steves' audio tour of the church also.

We wandered around a bit more, poking our heads into the famous Julius Meinl market store.  White asparagus were in season, and we saw them everywhere!  They were massive.

and pausing for some photos at the Michaelerplatz.

We decided we'd done enough walking, and it was time for a glass of wine and some dinner.  We wandered over to Vinothek W-Einkehr, this lovely little tiny wine bar.  The owner/bartender was quite nice, and helped us pick out a flight that would walk us through 6 different Austrian wines - and gave us a little book to follow along!  He was super knowledgeable and helpful as we learned about Austrian wines. 

The Gruner Veltliner, or GV, was our favorite - and we looked for it the rest of the trip.  We also ordered some delicious, freshly sliced meats and cheeses for dinner.

And of course stopped at the super popular gelato spot on the way back to the hotel.

A lovely evening in Vienna.

The next morning, we walked across the street from our hotel, and boarded what became our favorite (most used) tram line, the #2, and headed off to the market.

When you boarded the trams, you didn't show a ticket - you just got on and off.  They will randomly inspect the riders to ensure they have an updated and paid pass, and you better have one if that happens, but it was the honor system otherwise.

The market was very busy that morning, lots of vendors selling a little bit of everything.  We browsed for a while, then found a good spot for some lunch. 

Lunch was absolutely delicious!

We thanked the very friendly stand owner, and headed to the metro, which we took out to thSchönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family.  It was massive, and literally looked fake!  It looked like a big, yellow monopoly piece they'd just plunked down on the grounds. 

We went in and did one of the tours, then enjoyed walking around the grounds, enjoying the beautiful weather.

Once we had our fill of the palace, we headed back to town to wander through some of the neighborhoods out of the center of town a bit.  We headed to the Neubau area, and came across this cute coffee shop, Espresso - looked like the perfect spot for a coffee!

That evening, we trained, bused, and trammed out to a real Viennese “heuriger” or wine tavern.  

These wine taverns are all along the outskirts of the city, and are just lovely.  You look through the front door at a beautiful courtyard and right into the vineyard.  We went to Fuhrgassl-Huber, and it was quite lovely.

We had made reservations, but didn't end up needing them.  We snagged a table outside near the vineyard, and went inside to the counter to order our dinner.  There were a few choices of meats and sides to choose from.

We ordered ham, pork, dumplings, green bean salad and potato salad.

It was a beautiful evening!

The wine taverns serve their own wines, usually young white wines.  We ordered a carafe of our new favorite, GV.

After dinner and back in Vienna, we got off the tram at the Opera House to walk a bit back to the hotel.  

Each night of a show, they broadcast it live on a massive screen on the side of the Opera House.  People bring chairs and blankets and sit and watch the show.  We stood for a little, that night it was a ballet. 

The next morning we had tickets to the Spanish Riding School's performance.  We had decided on standing room only tickets, and I'm glad we did - we got there early and once we figured out the right entrance, we got a great spot up along the railing.  

The Lipizzaner stallions were just amazing, the performance was beautiful.  Definitely recommend this to anyone going to Vienna.  

After the show, we walked by the stables, then off to lunch.  I loved all of the different cross walk lights around town...more down below. 

Casual Saturday lunch on the patio at the famous Zum Schwarzen Kameel cafe for mini sandwiches.  You go inside (the very smoke filled restaurant) and wait in line, then once it's your turn, you tell the lady which ones you want from a huge selection of probably 30 or more.  She puts them on a plate, you pay, and go sit at your table.

We went back for round 2, they were all delicious.  The curry was our favorite.

We wandered out a bit again and found a cool brewery to check out - in the middle of a middle eastern market.  Bit of a different feel from the one the day before!  Much more informal, and way more crowded!

Wandering on a bit more, we discovered a beer garden, so we popped in there for a bit!

While the main downtown was of course great, we really enjoyed poking around some of the neighborhoods that were a outside the ring a bit. 

M found this cool beer and burger bar that we went to for dinner, Hawidere

They had pages of burgers to choose from!  I saw one with Brussels Sprouts, and thought that sounded great.  Didn't realize it was a Brussels Sprouts BURGER - no meat patty!  Whoops!  It was still delicious, definitely different!

More great, unique street crossing signs...

Our final day in Vienna was Sunday.  We were able to get in for the early English tour of the Opera House.  It was what felt like a busy morning - there were 3-4 different languages taking tours that morning, and the English group broke into 3 different tours.

The inside of the hall was really incredible.  There are 3 different stages, and they can move them in and out, up and down.  There is a different show every night, so they have to build the set, run the performance, and break it down just so they can build a new one for the next night.  

After the Opera House, we went to The Kunsthistorisches Museum for brunch.  

Sunday brunch is served in their incredible dome, and it's just beautiful.  

We walked around the art museum, then headed to the Imperial Palace.  We toured the apartments, Sisi museum and the silver collection.  The china, silver- and goldwork was absolutely amazing. 

The rooms and cases just went on and on and on...

We were about museum'd out after all of that, so we wandered around a bit, and decided we needed a coffee.  We'd been meaning to check out this cool looking spot sitting on the river, Motto am Fluss, and not much else was open as it was Sunday, so we headed over to their cafe.  You can see the restaurant on the left in the photo below - the cafe is on the top floor.

We ended up staying all afternoon!  We had a coffee, then a cake, then wine, and then just ordered dinner!  It was lovely.  We just relaxed, talked about our trip, looked at our calendars for the upcoming weeks, and relaxed.  What a great end to our fabulous European trip - we would fly home early the next morning.  

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