looking back … vienna 2016

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What reminds me of Vienna these days?
We are in Southern France – and for about 2 weeks (end of January & beginning of February) it was really cold: one evening it started even snowing & all was soon covered in a nice white snow layer. Even in the morning there was this specific quietness that only snow provides … However, some hours later almost all was gone, at least where we live in Carcassonne. The mountains far away kept their white cap & there was still a thin ice layer on some shadowy parts of Lac de Montagné, which we paid a trip 2 days ago. (Honestly I hadn’t expected any snow here …)

So I decided to do another part of my “Lookin back …” series.
What happened in Vienna end of 2016?

Arriving in Vienna meant arriving in light rain which turned into light snow & more snow during the following days … The cold dampened our activities, but we had a lot of fun “inside Vienna” – and we’re sure that we’ll return to Vienna in spring or summer for “outdoor Vienna“. (Not sure when … we didn’t make it until now!)

We spent a long weekend in Vienna before X-mas & had some great insights in Vienna’s culture & traditional cuisine. Although we originally planned to roam the alleyways of the 1st Quarter (1. Bezirk) looking for small interesting shops, coffee houses, famous shops, having coffee & cake in between, shopping a little (or even a little more …) & the weather didn’t play along – Vienna was just great!

Have a look at the magnificent St. Stephen’s Cathedral in mist & snow …

Due to the weather conditions we preferred to stay “inside Vienna” & reduced walking Vienna’s alleyways to the mere necessity. “Inside Vienna” meant St. Stephen’s Cathedral as well as the Hofburg … (not to mention coffee houses, restaurants, bars…).

Just follow us …

Our 1st stop was St. Stephen’s Cathedral …

Around the cathedral spreads a nice small Xmas market where we bought a beautiful red & golden Xmas bauble – somewhat in a hurry because an ice cold wind swept across the open space.

Fortunately the Hofburg wasn’t far away: of course – because the imperial family lived here & prayed there. The Hofburg is big, vast … having lots of inner gardens, housing the Spanish Riding School (we sneaked a peek of a Lippizaner in an inner courtyard) as well as museums like the Albertina (in part a picture gallery, in part displaying the original palace rooms).

We approached the Hofburg …

… & walked the Albertina …

In the former imperial rooms of the Albertina there were lots of elaborately decorated stoves – & there were not only a yellow room & green room & a red room, but also a blue room & a white room …

Nevertheless our main interest was directed at the Imperial Apartement in the Hofburg – yes: I’m talking about the apartment where Franzl & Sisi lived… (aka the famous Emperor Franz-Josef & the even more famous Empress Elisabeth).

The Empress Elisabeth was nicknamed “Sisi” in her family. When the movies started to film her life in the 50s (3 movies starring Romy Schneider & Karl-Heinz Böhm) it was decided to call her “Sissi” because it sounded more catchy.

… & Franzl was 18 when becoming emperor & 24 when marrying 16-year-old Sisi.

The tour starts in the imperial household (part of the imperial kitchen) & displays lots of pans & pots, even more china (imagine several imperial coffee sets & dinner tableware sets), lots of silver & gold table decoration ware & more & more …

Finally you’ll arrive at the Imperial Apartments which seemed – at least to me – rather small compared to the giant Hofburg. There is the famous official Sisi painting as well as the – not less famous – private Sisi painting (you know: there’s the one where Sisi has her hair done & wears all the jewels & there’s the one where Sisi wears some sort of negligee w/ all her hair flowing around her).

Back to Vienna’s alleyways: we admired Vienna’s elaborate architecture w/ all the buildings from the last centuries. Most intriguing is this unique mix of old buildings (& some new ones), of small shops & flagship stores, of alleyways for pedestrians only, of restaurants & bars, of companies’ offices & apartments… It’s really a living “1. Bezirk”!

What did we eat?

We had delicious breakfasts (aka continental breakfasts) w/ fresh rolls & croissants & warm soft-boiled eggs in a glass w/ butter … & exquisite coffee!!! (… & you always get a piece of cake (Bundt cake) as an extra!)

For dinner we decided to stay w/ Austrian traditional food like:

  • Wiener Schnitzel (Viennese schnitzel: a breaded thinly sliced veal schnitzel w/ potato salad)
  • Tafelspitz (a thinly sliced lean boiled piece of beef from the shoulder served with a horseradish-apple sauce)
    You start w/ a bowl of the beef broth & the vegetables; then comes the meat w/ potatoes.
    (I learnt that this dish was one of Franzl’s favourites!)
  • Backhendl (breaded chicken pieces w/ potato salad & cucumber salad).

My better half & I – we liked all of it very much!
(Is there any other reason for travelling like enjoying original local cuisine?)

In the evening we liked in a bar enjoying an “Espresso Martini”!
(I’ve never before tried one – believe me: it’s an exquisite mix of  vodka, coffee liqueur, fresh espresso & salted caramel syrup.)