Published: June 2nd 2011June 1st 2011
I had the opportunity to visit Vienna for a second time, this time with a couple Austrian friends and we had a great time. In one short weekend we saw and so many things that I think we needed another weekend to recover. I spent about a week here a couple years ago and will also include a few pics and comments from that visit.
Ok, so after my friend Max fetched me from the student agency bus at Praterstern we walked through the middle of the city killing time until my other friend, Tamara, got off of work. After seeing some break dancers in Stephansplatz and grabbing some of the new caramel infused Manner wafers we found Tamara and headed to Vapiano's (on Herrengasse) for dinner. This was a great place to grab some affordable Italian food, catch up, and go over the itinerary for the next couple days.
The next day it was raining so we adapted our plan accordingly. We went first to the natural history museum in the museum district where we saw lots of rocks (and fish, and birds, etc.) :-). Then lunch at Centimeter (Siebensterngasse) was a highlight for the day. There you
can order a meter of beer or two meters of sausage! Max and I went with the Putenschnitzel (turkey hen schnitzel) and Tamara with the Blunzengröstl (blood sausage with potatoes). The portions were huge and the food great! After full tummies we were on foot passing the "smallest house in Vienna" on our way to the national library. If you are into cool libraries then this stop is a must. Here it's like an ancient version of the library of congress meets the Sistine Chapel. And, by the way, they are currently digitizing the centuries old texts found here.
From here we kept walking our way around the Habsburger buildings and Albertina (art) and then went through the butterfly house where the brilliant blue South American morphos steal the show. Next we headed for Belvedere (the smaller version of Schonbrunn) to find our artistic side. The walk from lower to upper Belvidere through the gardens is recommended. The gallery at upper Belvedere holds many of the Austrian painter Gustav Klimt's works including the famous "The Kiss." After seeing a few inspiring works and others that weren't so inspiring we headed for the exit only to see "finally two great
sculptures" (see pics), the self-titled blue and pink “works of art.” After a good gut-busting laugh we exited and strolled through the nearby botanical gardens. Next I got a tour of the science labs at the University of Vienna where Tamara and Max work. Then, we needed some "dinner" so we headed back to Centimeter where we split one XXXXL chocolate cake between the three of us. "Dessert" was then gelato at Bortolotti’s - please stop here for good gelato that the locals are quite familiar with. We ended the day hanging out with one of Tamara's friends recounting the day's adventures.
The next day we began by driving just outside the city to the Kahlenberg overlook. The surrounding woods are nice and the view takes in the whole city. You can relax and have a coffee or hot chocolate while taking in the expanse of Vienna. Next, it was off for a Vienna tradition, eating at Wuerstelstand Kasekrainer in the Hoher Markt. There, I downed a yummy kasekrainer (sausage with cheese inside) and finished it off with a gelato at Zanoni’s. That gelato was ok but I would definitely favor Bortolotti’s. Then we went through to check out
St. Stephan’s Cathedral. On our way around the platz we saw this “Roman soldier” who was so bad I can’t imagine he was making much of a living off of tips . . . unless they were sympathy $$. While around the platz we also hit up the Manner shop to see the dizzying array ways they could market their wafers. We also took a quick peek at the Virgil Chapel that is just a flight of stairs down the Stephansplatz underground. The Chapel, located below St. Stephan’s Cathedral, was discovered when the subway was constructed in the early 70’s. And, continuing with the underground theme, we took in the Kapuziner Crypt where many of the Hapsburg royalty are buried including Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph.
After this, we headed to Tamara’s garden house in the Prater for the best part of the trip. There we started with a 13k run through the grounds of the Prater with Max and I on foot and Tamara on the bike. It was a great way to see the Prater and get to work off some of the schnitzel, sausages, and gelato. After that we played croquet, had bbq, and ended with
homemade palatschinken . . . mmmm. We topped off the night with a walk around the big amusement park and called it a weekend.
There are a couple other things I would recommend if you visit Vienna. Definitely get to Schonbrunn and see the palace and magnificent gardens. I enjoyed taking my runs through the gardens along with many other Viennese. The naschmarkt is also a great place to go to try out some fresh produce or other Austrian specialties. Buy a multi-day public transportation pass and you will set as it is then easy to get anywhere in the city with the underground or trams.
There are more photos below