Europe Trip VIENNA

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General

Vienna, simply put, stole the show!

Beautiful, grandiose, majestic in everything—history, culture, museums, architecture, size, and beauty.
Buildings from royal eras were built to match the egos and wealth of the dynasty in power.
The city is rich in experience at virtually every turn—from the Spanish Riding School and the history of the Waltz to the art museums and the espionage of WWII and the Cold War. (approx. 3000 spies and their handlers still live in Vienna today.)

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The Viennese are cultured, manicured and polite—glad you love their city, but happy you will be going home. Most speak English and will assist you as needed.

You will want more time in Vienna—guaranteed.

Vienna is the perfect stop en route to Budapest (a 2 hour train ride) or to Prague or Krakow (approximately 4 hours).

I cannot wait to return when the weather is warmer and I have at least a full week (and my health) to visit. 

Where To Stay

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I was fortunate (thanks to a very good friend) to stay downtown near the Stephensdom.
This allowed us to go out easily, stroll the extensive pedestrian areas without much need for the metro or street cars...and, a view from the rooftops!

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Getting Around

Metro was easy to use, but the city is great for walking.
Vienna offers a transportation and museum pass, but it is not as generous as in Amsterdam.
Hop On Hop Off Bus provided transportation for the sick as well as a sense of locations and attractions spread across the city districts.

My Favorite Attractions

National Bibliothek and the Augustinerlesesaal & Prunksaal

Beautiful library and book collectio along with a history lesson on the fraternal order of masons.

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The Buildings—mindblowing, massive, and beautiful architecture—especially at night!

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The Old City and Pedestrian Zones—walking, exploring allows is full of discovery, twists and surprises.
Demel Cafe—the royal bakery—located city center in the pedestrian zone. Even if you cannot get a table, just go inside to gawk at the creations. Stunning!


The Museum Quartier and Kunstmuseum

The Maria-Therisien Platz (square) is flanked on both sides by the Natural History Museum and Art Museum—imposing structures that house major collection of the great masters and world history. Moving a little further beyond this square drops you into the Museum Quarters with a slew of other collections such as the Architectural Center and Modern Art museum. 

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Schonbrunn Palace

Modeled like a mini-Versailles (but ran out of money), this is a glorious park on a beautiful sunny day to explore and wander about. Christmas preparations were in progress so we just strolled about the gardens after a wonderful lunch and strudel. 

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If you go up the hill across the from the palace, there is a cafe with a spectacular view while having your “Kaffee mit Schlag” or a “Franziskaner Kaffee”.

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The Albertina
Yes, another art museum...featuring one of the great masters: Raffael...is completely worth the visit if you love art; but, the cafe was a total find as mentioned below. Additionally, the Albertina is near the Sacher Hotel and the Palmenhaus Restaurant

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Lunch was upscale, impeccable service and delicious. Menu offered something for everyone from ‘Fish & Chips’ to ‘Rigatoni D’arrabiata’ to the real-deal ‘Veal Wiener Schnitzel’—each perfectly prepared. Maybe it was the hours of walking, but I would tell anyone to head their way!

If you prefer eating elsewhere, the Albertina is proximal to the Sacher Hotel and the Palmenhaus Restaurant.

Attractions I missed due to illness:
Naschmarkt—centuries old market with over 100+ food and market stands
The Secession
The Museums featuring Klimt and the Jugendstil
The Sacher Hotel and Cafe with the famous Sacher Torte

Other cafes missed but recommended: Cafe Hawelka (an original) and Cafe Museum


Great Finds

You basically can’t go wrong in Vienna.
Our friend advised on most of the areas and attractions we visited...so, I can’t claim any “finds” perse.
What is listed above isn’t even half of what you could do.
We were just limited by illness and time available.


Food

We kept it simple, but the food was good across the board.
Austria has a rich menu often featuring other meats, ie venison, game, fowl, calf. 
Cuisine is similar to German flavors, but also, influenced by its eastern borders of Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

The Cafes—have their own niche or specialty or twist in desserts, pastries and foods; thus, it is worth sampling many despite their similarities.
The Albertina Cafe—see comments above
Kolar—microbrewery located in an alley, barely visible, that served warm, stuffed pita pockets. Note that this is the only option on the menu, ie variations of the pita pocket, but it is delicious on a cold night after playing tourist.

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Ramien To Go

This little place is not anything Viennese—it was a brand-new shop outside the door of our apartment building serving up fresh, organic, homemade ramen bowls. If you are in the Stephensdom area and looking for something simple, but delicious and healthy, check this place out! It is even better if you are weathering a bad sinus infection!!

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If you would prefer a brat or “wurst” instead, you can pick one up across the street at the ‘Hoher Markt Wurstelstand’. You simply can’t go wrong either way!