Vienna Waits For You

by Pamela

Vienna, Classical Music, Mozart, Sacher Torte

Some of you know that I travel quite a bit but I never really talk about it here. Well, after hearing from several people that I SHOULD talk about it…because they want to know more about the places I go (so they can determine if they want to go) I am NOW  going to start posting about it. My most recent trip was to Europe, and a few different places therein. Today’s post is about Vienna. This Austrian city is full of history and great tasting food.

While the city is of moderate size (160 sq miles) it’s jam packed with things to do, see and history to investigate. A few of the city’s more famous citizens are Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Strauss, Brahms, Mahler, Schoenberg and Sigmund Freud. With so many musical giants in the city, you can imagine that music is HUGE here. There are numerous theaters and opera houses.

Mozart Concert at Golden Hall in Vienna

While classical music, or opera, may not be your thing…it’s definitely worth your time to go to a Mozart concert at Musikverein Golden Hall. The musicians are all dressed in period costumes, and wigs, as they would have been dressed in the time of Mozart. The acoustics are fantastic, the venue is big…but not too big and the music played changes with each performance. The 2 hour concert may seem like a long time to be listening to classical music, there is an intermission (including a bar) and time really seems to fly by.

Set breakdown from Mission Impossible 5

Unfortunately the Vienna Orchestra was a couple of days away from opening night when we were there (so we couldn’t catch one of their concerts), but we were able to take a tour of the world famous Vienna Opera House. You may have heard of this place before because it is the home of the world famous Opera Ball. The interior looks like any other concert hall, but when it’s time for the ball everything changes. Much like the turnover of a basketball court to hockey rink, they transform the opera house into a place that will hold 5,000 people (where it normally accommodates around 2,000 – standing or seated, not dancing in ball gowns). On our backstage tour we got to see the remnants from the Mission Impossible 5 shoot that had been occupying the theater for about 3 weeks. Rumor is Tom Cruise saves the Opera Ball, but shhhhhhhh….

Naschmarket in Vienna Austria

Of course there’s a prominent flea market on Saturday, in Vienna. It’s known as Naschtmarket and is easily reached via the Underground. There are permanent food and grocery stalls that are open every day, but on flea market day there’s also a bunch of vendors selling t-shirts and other doo-dads. The cool part is further down the way and that’s where you’ll find antique vendors (both professional and people selling possessions from their own home). You’ll find everything from art glass to furniture and the odd creepy taxidermied animal. Having only traveled with a carry on bag, for this trip, I was pretty limited in what I could buy…so I just did a lot of looking (Craig was thrilled with my restraint).

As with most European cities, the public transportation is fantastic! It’s relatively inexpensive (roughly $30 for a 72 hour unlimited pass for the Underground – it’s called the Vienna Card and it also gets you discounts at restaurants, museums and other places of interest) and practically drops you at the front door of wherever you want to go. There’s also a network of buses and trams. Definitely no need to take an expensive cab. Of course there’s also your feet that can take you where you want to go. Vienna is a fairly easy city to navigate using a paper map or phone app. Since it was pretty rainy during our few days there, we did a bit more Underground riding than walking. But walking a city is definitely the best way to see everything.

Now about the food…

Vienna Coffee at Aida Coffee

Vienna is a coffee town! If you like the hot brown elixir, you’re going to very very happy. Oh, and if you’re a tea drinker you’ll be pretty pleased too. I don’t think we had a bad cup of coffee anywhere that we went. But one of our favorite places was Aida. There are multiple locations and they all have indoor or outdoor seating. They’ve also got several different types of coffee drinks there. Not like that Starbucks garbage…this is good stuff. Craig subsisted on the Wiener Melange, which is sort of like a cappucino – a shot of espresso, served in a large coffee cup and topped with steamed milk and then frothed milk. I stuck with my double espresso. 😉 I don’t want anything coming between me and my caffeine.

Sacher Torte at The Sacher Hotel

The pastries are plenty, but the most famous of the Viennese pastries would be the Sacher Torte which can be found all over the city. But the best place to get it is where the cake was first made and served…at the Sacher hotel. This simple chocolate cake is topped with a thick layer of chocolate ganache. It’s not a sickeningly sweet cake and it pairs really well with a cup of Viennese coffee. The other popular dessert is apple strudel. Thin phyllo pastry is stuffed to the max with piles of sliced apples along with a generous side of freshly whipped cream. Another popular sweet is marzipan. Not only is this sweet almond paste formed into adorable shapes of fruit and characters, but it makes its way into larger desserts too. I’m a total sucker for marzipan and had a big chocolate looking ball which was a cake filled with jam, wrapped in a layer of marzipan and dusted with cocoa <drool>.

Weiner Schnitzel in Vienna at Figlmuller

Of course, when you’re in Vienna you MUST have schnitzel. In lots of places weiner schnitzel comes as a piece of pounded out veal coated with bread crumbs and fried. In Vienna you can get that version or their more traditional version which is made with pork. We ventured into Figlmüller, a restaurant that has been serving weiner schnitzel for over 100 years. The schnitzel is wafer thin and HUGE. It overflows the plate, which this picture just does not do justice to. Paired with a glass of local Grüner Veltliner and a side of traditional potato salad, it was a dinner fit for a king, or queen. Of course I had to buy their cookbook. The book is loaded with traditional Viennese dishes and now I can cook anything, and everything, that we had to eat while in Vienna.

Sigmund Freud in Vienna Austria

Before we left Vienna, I had to make a visit to Mr. Freud and whisper into his ear about a couple of strange dreams that I had been having. I’m sure it had nothing to do with all the Grüner Veltliner I had to drink or all the pastries I consumed.

Drindle in Vienna

He told me I should by this drindl and find a matching beer stein for Oktoberfest. But Craig wouldn’t buy the matching lederhosen. 🙁

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Geez Louise! September 15, 2014 at 4:57 pm

Wow, this post made me so hungry. I have’t eaten this cake since I made one in school. I remember because I couldn’t stop eating the ganache with a spoon. This one and Opera cake… oh my stomach is grumbling!

Pamela September 15, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Hi Louise! The ganache was my favorite part….always is. LOL ooooh Opera cake, now I think I might need to make one of those. So much for my diet.

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