Published: May 1st 2013April 30th 2013
Even the best itineraries don’t always go as expected. Today was to be a full day of the Hofburg Palace. This was the winter residence of the Hofburg Dynasty for over 600 years. The palace today houses everything from the royal apartments to the Spanish Riding School (you know those fancy white horses that stand on their two hind legs). We had intended on doing 6 different things today, but things change. The Ugly Truth of Travel
Now for some of you this might be going too far in travel advice or should I say travel commentary, so I will be as gentle as possible. The simple truth is that travel is not always smooth and there are some things that can just put a strain on your trip. Ok, I will just say it, sometimes when traveling not everything is shall we say regular (do you need me to spell it out?) This means that there are at times some very uncomfortable moments and you then go from one extreme to the other. So the long and short is, that we have not been on a regular schedule (or as my Grandma Marge would say, the “morning constitutional”
isn’t exactly happening). This morning was the opposite extreme and being too far from the apartment could have proven to be a mistake. So instead of going to the Spanish Riding School as planned, I stayed in the apartment for a bit and Jerry used this opportunity to go to the Secession Headquarters & Museum. The Secession Movement
The movement was started by Gustav Klimt who split with the more conservative art movement of the day, other soon followed. When the movement was founded the Secession caused a stir with its exhibition designs that focused attention on the space and crossed boundaries of artistic discipline, fusing architecture, painting, sculpture, graphic art and interior design. Apparently even the building caused quite a bit of controversy as the design served no function.
Unfortunately for Jerry most of the exhibits were closed as they were preparing for a new exhibit. He did get to see one painting dedicated to Beethoven done by Klimt. The painting was based upon Beethoven’s 9th
symphony and depicted various movements. The piece is called Beethoven Frieze.
When Jerry got back from the museum I was in a better state and able to
leave the apartment. We headed for the Hofburg Palace. Our first stop was at the Spanish Riding School ticket office to see if we could get tickets for the next day’s morning training secession. Unfortunately the training secessions are done only on days there is no performance and since tomorrow is May 1 (Labor Day, big deal here) there is a performance. The performance was a bit out of our price range so we will miss the Royal Lipizzaner Stallions this trip. Brief Aside
Vienna cannot be done the justice it deserves in only 2 ½ days. You really need at least a week. There are so many things to see and due, both museums and performance venues. Also, while the Vienna Card is advisable, it isn’t the windfall that the Paris Pass or Salzburg Card are. Those cards get you into things without lines and at no additional cost. The Vienna Card is mainly a metro pass that then gives you discounts on entrance to the sites. This makes the city very expensive when site seeing, so you really have to pick what you want to see. I would suggest one paid thing a day and then
spend time just walking or riding the above ground trams. Hofburg Palace
Since we missed the stallions we next headed for the Kaiserappartments. This is actually a three in one museum. The first part is the royal silver collection, followed by the Sisi Museum (Empress Elizabeth) and then the Imperial Apartments. If you did them all it would take about 2 hours. An audio guide is included with your admission so you can go at your own pace. This allowed us to do the first two parts quicker and focus more time on the apartments. (Furniture Furniture Furniture, yeah for Jerry).
The silver collection was in what was the kitchens, and you think Downton Abbey has staff; this place had an army just for the kitchen, one person alone dedicated to supervising the table linens and their use. The best part of the collection for me was all of the copper cookware, I am having it sent home, I am sure the Austrian people won’t mind.
The next section was dedicated to Empress Elizabeth, apparently assonated at some point. She was also the subject matter of a series of Hollywood movies. It was pretty interesting but
No one should be with out it!
Jerry didn’t really want to see that so I didn’t spend as much time as I would have liked but was able to focus on the highlights.
Finally, you walk up the royal staircase to the Imperial Apartments. While they are very nice, they really; just don’t hold a candle to Versailles. It was interesting to me that Marie Antoinette, who was born in this palace hated Versailles, which I don’t understand since she grew up in a grand palace.
After finishing our tour, we exited and walked around the palace grounds a bit. We then did a walk by of the Burgkapelle. What is the Burgkapelle you ask? Well it is the home of the most famous boy’s choir on earth. Yes, we stood at the entrance of the Vienna Boys Choir performance area and boarding school. Now we didn’t get to hear the young chaps or even see them, I am sure they were busy practicing all those high notes and the only perform for Sunday Mass unless it is a formal concert.
There were originally two more museum’s scheduled, but we opted out mainly to watch our budget but also because of time. After
the Hofburg Palace we headed for Café Demel, a very famous Viennese Coffee House. It is very large and when you first walk in you are in the boutique store where you can purchase all of their decadent desserts for your friends and family. Sorry friends and family none were purchased, they wouldn’t have survived the trip home.
We walked further in to the coffee house and when we turned the corner were confronted with a huge pastry kitchen with at least 6 people working a way making tortes, tarts, and other yummy things. The dining room was quite busy so we opted to sit at the bar. This turned out to be a good choice. The barista was very nice; spoke decent English (better than my German any day). We ordered a light lunch, as what we really came here for was the Sacher Torte. Jerry had Vienna Sausages with mustard and horseradish. These are nothing like the things you get in the can at home. They were very long and very good. I had the best scrambled eggs I think I have ever had.
While we were sitting enjoying our lunch, an elderly local couple came
in and stood next to us. They ordered their coffee and desserts, and then her husband ordered a second dessert. The barista took our order and then asked if we wanted whipped cream, I said nein, but the woman next to us, said nein, nein, whipped cream is a must, it only has eins tiny calorie. So whipped cream we had. She then asked us if we knew what a calorie was, we nodded but she explained that calories were the things that worked at night to make all of your clothes smaller. It had nothing to do with eating the Sacher Torte and Whipped Cream; it was just those nasty calories working through the night to shrink your clothes. We later learned that the couple lives five minutes from the Demel and they come there almost every day. She said that the Sacher Torte was the best in all of Vienna if not Austria and far superior to that from the Sacher Café, the place it was invented.
You will all be happy to know that I now have the recipe for the Sacher Tort, in addition to many other Austrian specialties. In the gift store of the
Whip cream is obligitory
Hofburg was an Austrian cook book in English, so you know I had to have it.
Our next stop was the Opera House to see if we could get one of the daily English tours. Unfortunately we missed the last one by 30 minutes. Instead we took a tram ride around the Vienna Ring. The tram tracks completely circle the inner city. There is a special yellow tram that does the entire ring and also provides an audio visual presentation of what you’re passing by. It is not included on the Vienna Card, so we took the cheap route and rode a combination of two trams to complete the circle. I would like to do the actual Ring Tram, but I am not sure we will have time.
The stop that we switched trams was also our first sight of the Danube. Well, a man made canal that diverted the Danube so it would go through more of Vienna. We won’t see the actual river until we arrive in Budapest.
After the tram ride we head back home for wine thirty and to get ready for dinner. We are headed to a wine garden outside of the
city. This one is where Beethoven often stayed and wrote a great deal of the 9th
Before I forget, there is one other thing that we did see. After our Sacher Torte at Café Demel as we were walking to the Opera House, we passed through an archway and to our left were the stables of the Royal Lipizzaner. They were all in their stalls just enjoying their rest before the next day’s big show. Jerry took a few pictures, but there was plexi-glass between us and them, so they might not have turned out. The Heuriger
When we decided to come to Austria I figured I would have to learn to like beer, I mean a German speaking country, and they all drink beer right? Well to our great surprise the wine in Austria has been quite good. Not a great depth of Rhot Wein (red wine) but several very good Weiss Wein (white wine). So while yes there are beer gardens everywhere, there are also Heurigers. Back in the day these were in the forest or on the edge of the forest and the city. They started as Weinguts (winery) and later food was
added. There are several in Vienna all on the outskirts of town. We chose Weingut Mayer Am Pfarrplatz for tonight’s dinner. This particular Heuriger has been around since the mid 1600 and the house attached to it was 130 years old when Beethoven lived there and wrote sections of his 9th
So for Jerry his day would begin and end with Beethoven and the 9th
Symphony, all that was missing was actually hearing the music.
We took the U4 to the end of the line and then the 38a bus to the Heuriger. It was then a very short walk. There were 3 other Heuriger’s all in the same house; the one we were going to was by far the biggest and most popular. It was pretty busy when we got there; I had made reservations earlier in the day. There were several large groups so service was a bit slow, but they did get us our glass of wine quickly. When eating here you have a couple of options, to order off the menu or go through the buffet. Now this is not your North’s Chuck Wagon (Izzy’s for those of you that are not native
Oregonian’s) kind of all you can eat buffet. This is a buffet with several things to choose from and most of it is charge to you by weight or piece. You can get everything from Blutwurst (Black pudding) to Spinastrudel mit Schafskase (Deep fried vegetables with herb sauce (herb sauce basically means mayonnaise with some herbs thrown in).
We did not do the buffet, mainly because our German is so bad, we would never know what we were eating and two, it could add up fast. Instead we ordered off the menu. (we took both a German and English one for our collection). We did try to order from the German menu, but it was just too difficult and our phrase book and menu reader was of no help. Comment on Phrase books
It is extremely important that you have a good phrase book when traveling, unless of course you’re fluent in the language. We have a phrase book put together by Frommers. Do not waste your money. It is not very helpful and doesn’t even give you some very basic phrases that you need. It is also simply wrong. You need a phrase book
that has a comprehensive dictionary and gives you useful phrases. Frommers is great if you are traveling to have sex, they spent a great deal of time telling you how to pick up someone and more. I don’t need to know how to ask someone to use a condom; I do need to know how to ask where the bathroom is. Heuriger continued
Unfortunately because of our limited menu reader by Frommers we had to ask for an English menu. I really like to be able to at least order from the regular menu, but German is so difficult and we just don’t eat that much Austrian food to know what we are ordering. Even the English menu given is not a perfect explanation. An example is we ordered a Fried Kasekrainer in Muskateller pastry crust, and that was the English translation. We had no idea what Kasekrainer was, we assumed some type of cheese as Kase is cheese. Well it did have cheese in it but this is what it turned out to be: A Bratwurst and cheese that was encased in a tempura like batter and then deep fried. It was fantastic, but you would never
figure that out from the menu unless you knew what Kasekrainer was.
We were very glad we went out of the way to eat here, it was a good experience and the food was very good. After dinner we walked to the tram station and took the above ground Tram D back to the city. Thus ending day 2 of Vienna. Today’s Food
Breakfast in our apartment: Yogurt, Italian Strawberries (just like California berries, big and not flavor) and an almond croissant with marzipan (Finally had one for you Devra)
Lunch at Café Demel: Jerry had Demels Hauswürstel (Viennese sausages with mustard and horseradish) I had Eierspeis mit Schnittlauch (scrambled eggs with chives and black bread toast) We both had a good cappuccino and Sacher Tortes.
Dinner at Weingut Mayer am Pfarrplatz: We shared Gebackene Käsekrainer im Muskatellerteig (batter bratwurst stuffed with cheese), Frühlingssalat (traditional salad with ewe’s cheese) I also had Bärlauchcremesuppe (Wild garlic cream soup), Jerry’s main course was Gebackene Hühnerbrust vom Steirischen Bauern (Fried chicken breast stuffed with sheep’s cheese and spinach served with parsley potatoes. I had Geschmorte Rinsroulade (Braided beef roulade stuffed with ham severed with creamy and I mean
creamy mashed potatoes) we had a bottle of Zweiglet (Austrian red wine).
There are more photos below