Travel Tuesday: Vienna
Well this post has been a long time coming, I intended to start the Travel Tuesday series way back last year with my Prague trip, and I still have planned posts for the places I visited in South East Asia and India so sit tight for those. However, I thought I’d start with my most recent trip. Last month we headed to Vienna for a cheeky long weekend.
I adored it! It helped that we had perfect weather, around 30 degrees everyday woo! I’m just going to come out and say it, Vienna is the prettiest European city I’ve been to so far (sorry Paris!) it blows Prague out of the water for me and I think its grand, beautiful architecture coupled with its small, easy to navigate size makes it the perfect destination for a weekend away. Just look at these gorgeous pastel streets, there were grand facades and statues everywhere!
We stayed in Vision apartments, which are serviced apartments really centrally located. We were right by the river which had amazing bars hanging over it and fake beaches with bars alongside it. We were also just a five minute walk from the Cathedral and the main town square. We arrived in the evening on the Friday and once settled headed straight into the centre to get our bearings. We stopped at a few bars on the way and stumbled upon St Stephens Cathedral almost by accident. That’s something I loved about Vienna all the winding streets are so interconnected that it’s very hard to get lost.
The facade was so impressive and its setting is beautiful, located in the Stephansplatz, a beautiful, grand square. The Cathedral is huge, so imposing, it’s one of the tallest churches in the world! It’s surrounded by horse drawn carriages which ferry tourists around the city picking up and dropping off at all of the major sights. Alas we couldn’t justify a trip in one.
It was free to go in and still open, we were surprised as we got there pretty late. They lit up the entrance arched doorway with rainbow lights which I thought was so pretty.
Inside of the Cathedral was beautiful, with a long aisle and several ornate, gilded alters. None of my photos came out well as the sun was setting so it was pretty dark inside. However, we were able to take an elevator ride to the top of the roof. The ride was short in an amazing round elevator with a really friendly operator. Once at the top we were rewarded with the most spectacular views over the city, and we’d managed to time it for sunset – perfect!
That night we wondered around looking for a cute restaurant and we eventually ate at a Viennese restaurant in a beautiful terrace surrounded by plants. As veggies we had a slightly limited choice as Vienna has a pretty Germanic palette – lots of schnitzel and veal, but I had a lovely spinach and mushroom roulade and Tom had a veggie pasta.
The next day we got up and grabbed some pastries before wondering around the city. I was determined to find the famous Opera House and locate to Hofburg Palace which we were planning to visit later in the week. We walked through the fancy part of the city which houses all the designer shops, the architecture was just so stunning I couldn’t stop looking up. The place is made even more magical by the frequent horse drawn carriages rumbling past.
We took a long winding route, choosing to go down any street that looked pretty until we found the Opera House. It has a screen outside which shows the Operas to audiences gathered outside. It has it’s own Walk of Fame style stars for famous composers.
Opposite the Opera House is the infamous Hotel Sacher, home of the Sachertorte a famous Viennese desert. We had to go. I didn’t get many photos as it’s a very fancy venue but the experience was lovely. We were led in by a Maitre D’ and seated on a tiny cafe table inside the sunroom that overlooked the street. The staff were all dressed in their finery, the waiters in suits and the waitresses in maid dresses. It has a dress code so if you’re planning to go make sure you’re not showing too much skin and not wearing flip flops. As it was the hotels speciality we had to order a sachertorte, we also both got chocolate drinks, I had a boozy hot chocolate and Tom had a chocolate coffee.
They arrived with separate tall glasses of the hotel’s famous melted chocolate which our waitress then poured into each of our drinks. The sachertorte itself is almost a cross between a chocolate cake and a chocolate mousse. It was delicious but incredibly rich so we weren’t able to finish it all. The drinks were divine though! You can buy whole tortes here to take away, the ideal souvenir if you have a sweet tooth!
That evening I’d arranged for us to go to the City Hall to have dinner and a show in the restaurant located in its vaults.
The corridors looked just like Hogwarts!
Our delightful dinner setting!
The show was delightful, The 6 singers above performed a series of Operettas from all over Austria in between courses. They were themed around the particular regions of the country, the Salzberg section included Edelweiss from the Sound of Music which everyone loved, and it ended with songs from Vienna and the Blue Danube.
The three course meal was yummy although our vegetarian option wasn’t as thought out as the meat option. Our starter was a tomato and mozzarella salad, the main was ricotta ravioli with sundried tomatoes. The pudding was a huge vanilla soufflé which was wheeled in and served from a giant skillet with sparklers on top. It was delicious but so filling.
That night we explored some of the bars near out hotel and had a long lie in the next day before heading off to the Hofburg Palace complex.
This is the outside the palace complex, it has now been turned into a museum and the landscaped gardens are full of people sunbathing and playing ball games, it has such a relaxed vibe. Something to note about Vienna it is probably the cleanest city I’ve been to. I didn’t see any litter or graffiti at all.
This is the inside of the dome above the arched entrance.
Here’s a pano of the complex. Behind me (taking the picture) are gardens. If you follow the road to the right you get to the museum quarter which has even more grand buildings.
As architecture buffs we couldn’t get enough of all the statues and ornate doorways and balconies. The blue copper domes reminded me of Vatican City.
That evening we treated ourselves to cocktails and the penthouse bar at the Sofitel Vienna overlooking the river. This bar is amazing, it has huge floor to ceiling windows the entire way around with remote controlled shutters that adjust to block out the sun from being in peoples eyes. The ceiling is lit with projected images that change and almost dance.
This gives you more of an idea of just how tall the cathedral is.
On our last day the weather took a turn for the worst and rained on and off. To avoid the rain we got a red tourist hop on hop off bus that took us further out of the Inner Stadt where we’d spent most of our time and showed us the rest of the city. The tour was great, I highly recommend! For 25euro we went on 2 different tours, one which was more central and a second which took us further out, including to the Schönbrunn palace. It was really informative and a great way to keep out of the rain. It showed up some spots we missed that I definitely want to go back to on a second visit. For example we didn’t know about the Prater amusement park just past the river, which has cute old rides including a giant ferris wheel. Definitely one for the return trip.
One of the museums in the Vienna Museum Quarter
So there you go a whistle stop tour of Vienna. I’m afraid I only really took photos of the architecture however, I took my Pentax with black and white film so I’ll share those photos when I get them developed.
Have any of you been to Vienna? How do you rank it against other European cities you’ve been to?
Love, Sarah x