A May 2004 trip
to Vienna by Barb B
Quote: When my husband and I were first married, I asked, "If you could take me to only one city in the world, what would that be?" Without hesitation, he answered, "Vienna!"
There is no escaping its cosmopolitan, yet nostalgic worldliness. Trulythe political, economic, intellectual and cultural hub of Austria.
VISIT some of Vienna's galleries. With more than 120 galleries in Vienna, many of Europe's greatest paintings are on display.
WALK the Ringstrasse, a pleasant thoroughfare encircling the city center.
RELAX and take a break in the Stradpark (City Park). Landscaped walkways link monuments recognizing Vienna's famous Painters, Musicians and Composers.
Cabs are also inexpensive and readily available throughout the city.
For a special treat, horse drawn carriages provide a romantic (if expensive) ride.
Fluffy white bathrobes, overstuffed bed comforters, fine quality shampoos, lotions and scented soaps all contribute to the feel of luxury we experienced during our stay at the Inter-Continental Hotel.
Rooms are extremely comfortable with huge closets, cozy bed linens and comforters, and CLEAN carpeted floors! (So often in Europe, I find clean rooms with ''nasty'' carpets!!) TV, Room Service and Telephone Services were the best, of course!
Our room overlooked the Stadtpark (City Park) and each morning we awoke to the sound of the birds in the park across the street. Tour services are readily available from the hotel and many tours start here. Cab service is available to and from the hotel--normal charges apply.
The hotel has a comfortable bar and an extravagant pastry shop where you can order light meals or snacks. This is a wonderful hotel!!! Special touches like a well-lighted make-up mirror, tastefully framed prints, hand made Belgium Chocolates on your pillow at bedtime all make the stay worthwhile. The pleasant staff members all speak English and you will have no language problem. A magnificent place to stay if you want or need some luxury!
You can visit their website at -- link
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 22, 2001
43 (1) 711 22.0
Hotel | "Sofitel Hotel Vienna"
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on August 17, 2004
AM HEUMARKT 3537
The restaurant serves lavish buffet breakfasts. The extensive Asian Breakfast Buffet which featured seafood, rice dishes and oriental specialties appealed particularly to Vienna's growing number of Asian visitors. The European-American Buffet (which we preferred) offers a lavish selection of fruits, juices, cereals, yogurts, meats & cheeses and delicious pastries. Made to order omlets and egg entries are also available. The attentive wait-staff brings coffee or tea to your table and provides prompt refills.
The Lunch/Dinner menu offers Appetizers, Meats, Salads and Pasta Entrees. Main courses included Salmon on a bed of spinich with polenta ($15.65 US - very tasty), Spaghetti Bolognese ($11.00 US), Ravioli with Cheese and Apple filling ($12.75 - which my husband thought was marvelous), Wiener Schnitzel with cabbage salad and boiled potatoes (at $17.80 - a truly local item which was excellent). Steaks varied in price from $21-$24. On the lighter side; Beef Tartare was offerred at $11.50 US, Ceasear Salad at $8.25 and Italian Mozzerella di Buffola salad at $9.80.
Desserts were spectacular--Save room!! The chocolate mousse ($7) will absolutely melt in your mouth. Vienese Apple Strudel ($5) was chock full of tart apples and walnuts and of course the "old standards" ice cream ($2.50) and local pastries ($4.75) were also available.
The Brasserie Restaurant provides excellent local fare, at reasonable prices served by an attractive customer-oriented staff.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 23, 2001
The Weinbottich Heuringer is over 270 years old and was recently named a national monument. Authentic historic artifacts include the old bellows used by the smith, the 200 year old lime tree in the garden and the memorial column giving thanks for a good harvest. The atmosphere is friendly and fun even though you are aware that everything is geared to the tourist.
Since we were part of a tour group, the menu was pre-set. The food, wine and entertainment proved to be much better than we anticipated. We were seated at tables for eight and waitresses in traditional Austrian attire immediately set large glass mugs of white wine before us. Traditional "Schrammelmusic" (fiddle, guitar and accordion music) provided rousing entertainment and allowed for impromptu sing-alongs.
Dinner started with what was described as "pancake soup", a tasty broth containing strips of what appeared to be thinly sliced pancakes. Very Tasty! The main course arrived -- 1/2 herb roasted chicken, a Viener Schnitzel (breaded veal cutlet), spaetzel (tiny dumplings) and the ever-present red cabbage. I usually find this type of "tour group meal" pretty tasteless, but this food was surprisingly tasty, well seasoned, attractively presented and portions were more than adequate. Waitresses reappeared (amazingly!) to refill our wineglasses whenever we "got a bit low."
After dinner, there was time for a short walk around the quaint town of Grinzing before returning to our hotel. If we had more time in Vienna, it might have been better to seek out a less touristy wine tavern, but all things considered, we had a very enjoyable evening, the food was excellent and the wine was plentiful. Local hotels have listings of tour agencies, which provide wine evening excursions and will be happy to assist with such services.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 28, 2001
After making a hasty retreat, we found the restaurant we were looking for just a few steps down the street. This time, the rich smells of sage and rosemary gently lured us into a comfortably decorated dining room. We’d spent the evening walking in Stadtpark, and we wanted to have dinner at this restaurant near the park which acquaintances had recommended.
Once the jovial waiters realized that my husband spoke "just a bit" of German, conversation began fast and furious. We decided to turn the menu selections over to our waiters and let them decide what we would eat that evening. They were flattered that we would allow them to select our menu and a wonderful dinner followed.
First they brought a drink that looked like champagne with a slightly pink tint. (I think it was called Schilcher sekt, but don’t quote me on that.) Shortly thereafter they brought half-carafes of both red and white local wines. A crispy vegetable salad for me and a bean soup for my husband worked well as our first course.
The main courses arrived, served with al dente vegetables. Two elegantly spiced roast chicken breasts and a huge platter of Rindsgulasch (Austrian beef goulasch). Coarse bread, boiled potatoes, red cabbage and pots of butter accompanied the entrees. We ate as much as we could possibly enjoy, but a large plate of leftovers remained. Of course, by this time the waiters had become great friends; therefore, we must have "just a bit" of their wonderful strudel with some Viennese coffee.
As we sat and enjoyed our coffee and dessert while listening to soft Mozart in the background, we realized that our second mistake, was not having come to this restaurant earlier in our visit. Since we would be departing the next morning, a return visit to Wirtshaus am Stadtpark will have to wait until our next trip to Vienna.
Complete price for this wonderful dinner, including tax and tip was about $52 US!! Now, how’s that for a bargain?
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 2, 2001
Wirtshaus am Stadtpark
Am Heurmarkt 5
Situated on Neuer Market at the corner of Marco Aviano, we found Trattoria Al Caminetto. Outdoor tables covered with green, orange and blue cloths provided a perfect location for a light lunch. Tempting paninis (sandwiches), formaggio (cheese) plates, and a vast selection of pasta dishes were offered. No problem ordering here, since the menu is written in German, English and Italian. My husband chose German beer to go with his pasta and I ordered a local white wine (available by the glass or carafe) to go with my cheese plate.
We shared a proscuitto and melon plate, along with glasses of prosecco (a light Italian champagne) for dessert. Just as dessert was served, the sky opened and a huge summer rain began. The overhead umbrellas gave sufficient shelter and lunch went on.
By the time we finished dessert, the rain had stopped, so we visited the Votivkirche Church located across the street from the Trattoria. It’s intricately frescoed facade is visible from the restaurant and the beautifully carved Antwerp Alter inside is a definitely worth a quick visit.
Trattoria Al Caminetto is open daily, accepts credit cards and can be reached by trams 1, 2, 37, 38, 40 or U-Bahn U2.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 27, 2001
Trattoria Al Caminetto
Neuer Markt at Marco Aviano
Attraction | "SCHONBRUNN IN AND OUT-The Gardens"
There and numerous guided tours to the Schonbrunn, summer residence of the Hapsburgs, but I think the easiest, cheapest and BEST way to see The Schonbrunn is on your own. Take the #4 U-Bahn Underground Tram (cost is 19 Aust Schillings - $1.38). I recommend that you travel one stop BEYOND Schonbrunn and get off at the "Hietzing (Zoo)". This way you can stroll to the Palace through the gardens. This is a much more pleasant walk than approaching from the front.
Emperor Maximillian II purchased the land for Schonbrunn Gardens in 1569. The characteristic stelliform system of ‘planted avenues’ of flowers is modeled after traditional French style gardens. Over the years, the gardens have been remodeled and embellished with numerous architectural structures and fountains which create interesting focal points and further enhance the beauty of the Gardens. Allow yourself about an hour to wander the gardens and visit the Zoo (the oldest zoo in the world).
The crowning architectural feature of the gardens is The Gloriette. Located high on a knoll at the rear of the Gardens, this triple-arched gate with sweeping staircases was built in 1775. If you have time (or more importantly, the energy) a climb to the top will reward you with an incredible panorama of the city.
Located below the Gloriette, Neptune’s Fountain is based on themes from Greek mythology. The fountain’s sculptures depict the goddess Thetis imploring Neptune’s aid as her son Achilles sets out on a sea-voyage.
The Taubenhaus - Dovecote served as the Palace aviary and the Small Gloriette, a miniature pavilion so beautifully decorated with frescoes was the place where Empress Maria Theresa enjoyed her breakfasts.
The Maze, in the Schonbrunn Garden was laid out between 1698 and 1740. This sculptured evergreen labyrinth signifies life’s journey into the unknown. It is especially fun to play in the maze if you are accompanied by small kids! We were not, but there was a group of school children there when we visited and giggles and laughter resounded.
Other Garden discoveries include: The romantic folly of the Roman Ruins; A Tyrolean Garden, with 2 Tyrolean timber houses; the Palm House largest greenhouse in Europe; and the Butterfly House, a butterfly garden opposite the greenhouse.
Four restaurants within the Gardens (including one located in the Gloriette) offer sandwiches, snacks and light meals for the hungry and weary. The Gardens are open daily, free to the Public, from 6 AM until dusk.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 25, 2001
Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens (Schloss Schönbrunn)
Schönbrunner Schlossstrasse 47
Vienna, Austria 1130
43 1 811 13-239
Attraction | "DEMEL- A Delightful Chocolate Experience!"
Ahhhh! Exquisite white and dark chocolates, sweet cakes, and magnificent pastries to die for! Even the Emperor Franz Joseph called upon Demels to provide sweets, cakes and pralines to enjoy during his tête-à-têtes with his numerous lovers, while his sad and unhappy wife, Sissi sat alone. Fortunately, Sissi was addicted to the legendary Demel violet Sorbet, so at least she was not alone. And so, until this day, we continue to enjoy our "Sweets--to--Die--For."
For over 200 years Demels has provided decadent and excessive sweets and treats to please one and all. I could now recite a long and dreary dissertation of the origins of Demels and their fine treats; however, you can see the company’s entire history including lovely pictures and pleasant music at their website www.demel.at. Therefore, I won‘t bore you with history.
A long-standing battle between Demels and Vienna’s Sacher Hotel continues regarding discovery of the fabulous ‘Sacher Torte’ chocolate treat. The question remains ‘Who invented this wonderfully creamy, sweet chocolate cake?’--Both claim to have the "First and Finest" Sacher Torte; therefore, you must sample both and make your own decision. -- What a way to go--
The Demels establishment sits just below the dome of the Hofburg. You can sit in the sidewalk cafe spaces and delight in the magnificence of the dome--Or you can go inside to enjoy your treats. An attractive young waitress wearing the traditional stark-black dress with a starched white collar led us past glass counters and silver trays laden with dreamy chocolate sweets, and delivered us to our private round marble table. Much could be said about the decadent treats we enjoyed--easier to say "Sweet dreams come true easily" at Demels.
You can also view the Sacher website at www.Sacher.com but unfortunately, the English version is not yet available.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 24, 2001
Vienna, Austria A-1010
+43 1 535 17 17 39
Attraction | "Walk Around the Ringstrasse"
Here are some of the significant sights that we visited along the "Ring":
Stephansdom - St Stephen’s Cathedral with its 450 ft high spire is a major sight and symbol of Vienna. The Cathedral received significant damage during the Second World War, but reconstruction was completed in 1962. Work continues on the painstaking cleaning of the exterior of the church. Tours of the Cathedral are given Mon - Sat at 10:30am and 3:00pm.
The Spanish Riding School and Lipizzaner Museum - Tickets for performances at the Spanish Riding School are extremely difficult to obtain. It is wise to obtain them over the internet BEFORE your arrival in Vienna. Visitors can watch the horses at their morning practice and the horses can also be viewed thru windows from the Lipizzaner Museum. The Museum is open daily from 9am to 6pm and admission is about $5 US for adults, $3.50 for children.
The Karnter Strasse is a paradise for shoppers. Streets fan out from the Stephansplatz. and provide a broad pedestrian area lined with lime trees, street side cafes, elegant boutiques and fashionable shopping arcades. Shops with such famous names as Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin, Burberrys, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Emanuel Ungaro are all represented. There are enough shops here to make any American husband cry!
We found the Albertinaplatz Memorial quite moving. The Monument against war and fascism dominates the square. Erected in 1988-1991, it commemorates the victims of the Nazi regime and those killed in the air raids of the Second World War. Its "Gateway of Violence" is a symbolic reminder of the terror of the war. We were particularly impressed by the small sculpture known as "The Kneeling Jew". The sculpture depicts a Jew scrubbing the pavement--a reminder that after the annexation of Austria by the Nazis, Jewish citizens were forced to scrub pro-Austrian slogans from the streets.
There is also a multitude of statues, fountains, Palaces and Markets within the area. Be sure to visit one of the coffeehouses during your visit. The coffeehouses witness political intrigue, clandestine romances and philosophical debates. The poet Alfred Polgar observed that coffeehouses are "the prefect place for people who want to be alone, but who need company for solitude".
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 26, 2001
Attraction | "SCHONBRUNN IN AND OUT-The Palace"
Close your eyes and imagine the sound of stately carriages drawn by proud horses entering the courtyard of the Schonbrunn. Visualize yourself ascending the elegant curved staircase and revel in the beauty of this storybook palace, which served as the summer residence of Hapsburg emperors from the 18th century until 1918. The residence is full of important decorative art and much of the palace is open to the public.
As soon as you arrive, head for the ticket office and purchase your ticket to obtain your place in the "queue" or allocated visiting time. This regulates the number of guests in the palace and precludes major overcrowding. Tours include an audioguide in any of ten different languages.
Two tours are available:
(1) The Imperial Tour which visits 22 state rooms: West wing apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth and Central section ceremonial and state rooms. Cost is about $7.50 and the audio guided tour lasts about 35 minutes.
(2) The Grand Tour which visits all 40 rooms opened to the public: West wing apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph I and Empress Elisabeth. Central section ceremonial and state rooms. East wing audience chambers of Maria Theresa and Emperor Francis Stephen of Lorraine. Cost is about $9.90 and the audio tour lasts about 50 minutes.
My recommendation? -- What the heck, you’ve spent bundles of cash to get to Vienna, why not pop for the extra $2.50 and see it all!
You can reach Schonbrunn by U4 toward Schonbrunn, Tram 60, Hietzig, tram 10, 58 and bus 10A
Nov - Mar Daily 8:30am to 4:30pm
Apr - Jun and Sep -Oct Daily 8:30am to 5:00pm
July - Aug Daily 8:30am to 7:00pm
Sat, Sun and Public Holidays 10:30am to 2:30pm
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 29, 2001
Manicured paths lead past marble statues honoring Vienna’s famed artistic types: Painters Hans Canon, Friedrich von Amerling, Hans Markart and Emil Schundler along with Composers Johann Strauss the Younger, Anton Bruckner and Franz Schubert. Ducks and swans skim the tranquil waterway as gorgeous young couples walk hand in hand beneath an umbrella of trees.
Two old men sat talking and smiling on a bench in front of the gilded statue of the "Waltz King" Johann Strauss. They seemed pleased that we too were enjoying the beauty of 'their' Park. The statue of the younger Strauss, Violin in hand, above a field of flowers is the most famous statue in the park. We sat on a nearby bench for a short time, enjoying the warmth of Vienna’s June sun, before deciding it was time to move on.
As we exited the park, we found vendors and stands flooded with gigantic bunches of colorful flowers. Although we knew we would only be in Vienna for a few days, we decided to buy an armful to brighten our hotel room. A GREAT investment--for just a few schillings we had a roomful of color and fragrance during our stay in this beautiful city.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 30, 2001
A Walk In The Stadtpark
Near City Center
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