Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Viennese coffees and cakes, oh my!

Vienna (Wien to the locals) is certainly a place of culinary pleasure, ecstasy if you will, and I didn't even scratch the surface of its wonders. Vienna is known for a few items in particular: coffee -- "Viennese coffee" features a large dollop of whipped cream immersed in strong coffee; a chocolate cake called Sachertorte; apple or ricotta strudel; and other sweet delights. I also discovered a tasty white wine - Grüner Veltliner, which Wikipedia just told me is also available in the Czech Republic... I'll have to look into this. Of course there's also Wiener schnitzel (Wiener because it's named after Wien), which I didn't get to try in Vienna, but it's no big loss because schnitzel is also popular here in the Czech Republic, just under a different name, smažený řízek (which is harder to pronounce than the German version, as is the case for almost everything in Czech). I also enjoyed the atmosphere of the cafes and konditoreis, or cake shops. The chain Aida is one of my favorites. It has a 50's soda shop feel to it.

Aside from food and drink there is plenty of history and culture to explore in Vienna. I was traveling with two Germans, which helped a bit, since they knew some of the history of the city and of course speak German, so it was like I had my own personal translators! In one and a half days I was able to see a lot of the main attractions. Since Vienna was the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was, and still is, well-equipped with gorgeous palaces. In the middle of the city is the Hofburg Palace or winter residence of the monarchy:

A few kilometers outside the city center (about 6 metro stops, or 15 minutes away) is the Schloß Schönbrunn (Schönbrunn Palace) - the summer residence of the Hapsburgs:

However, my favorite part of the city is the more modern Museum Quartier. I only made it to the Modern Art Museum, but the museum cluster & courtyard is a hip place to hang out, whether or not you go inside the museums:

For my unedited collection of pictures, click here. There are a lot of duplicates, unnecessary shots of my feet, boring pictures of statues or insides of domes, etc. but if you have a burning desire to see more of Vienna, it might just be your lucky day. If not, please just skim through them for the interesting stuff. And thank you for not being annoyed. It's easier for me than creating two albums (one for you, one for the people I was traveling with).

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