Leaving the Czech Republic, we made our way to Vienna, the capital of Austria! Famous for their Wiener Schnitzel and coffee, we were keen to try both! Interestingly, the coffee culture in Austria was born following the second invasion of Vienna by the Turks in the 17th century. Apparently, the Turks brought coffee beans with them to war to help their soldiers stay alert. But when they lost the battle, the Austrian soldiers found the coffee beans and voila; the coffee culture was born! During our week in Vienna, we were keen to hit all the famous tourist attractions and eat traditional Viennese foods!
Known for its many palaces and grand residences, we explored the Schonbrunn Palace, Belvedere Palace and the Hofburg Palace.
The Schonbrunn Palace is massive, containing over 1441 rooms! The government continue to employ 3000 staff to maintain and upkeep this grand palace. The complex also includes a number of gardens, a maze, a gloriette, and the oldest zoo in the world! We chose to purchase the classic pass, which gave us access to two gardens, the maze and the main residence. This turned out to be the perfect choice as the rain started to come down as soon as we had finished!
Whilst in Vienna, Anne celebrated her birthday! Daniel organised a day filled with fun, starting with a horse show, Piber meets Vienna, by the Spanish Riding School. The School is known for its careful breeding of Lipizzaner horses, which are bred specifically for dressage. They are born black, but over time turn white! Unfortunately the main horses were on “holidays” during our time in Vienna. Instead, we saw the horses which were in training, most of which were offspring of the main showcase horses. Next, we went to the Imperial Butterfly House called Schmetterlinghaus. This is a glasshouse filled with butterflies! In the afternoon, Daniel’s patience was worn a little thin as he indulged Anne in an afternoon of shopping! The afternoon was finished off with drinks by the river at Motto am Fluss and a fancy dinner at Buxbaum! At Buxbaum we opted for the 4 course menu Carte Blanche, with the courses chosen and crafted by the chef – giving us the element of surprise! It was a delicious meal that finished off an amazing day!
Of course, no trip to Vienna is complete without a sampling of Austrian delicacies! First on the menu was of course a Wiener Schnitzel! For this, we ventured to Figlmüller, a restaurant which has been serving the traditional Wiener Schnitzel for over 110 years! The trick, according to their menu, is to ensure the meat is tender and thin and, once crumbed, to fry the meat three times for that extra golden crunch! Luckily we were warned of the size of the schnitzel and opted to share. Daniel liked it so much that upon completion, he said he could have eaten one to himself. But then again, his eyes have always been bigger than his stomach!
Next on the foodie adventures was the Sachertorte. Legend has it that in 1832 the Prince von Metternich of Austria wanted to create a new cake for his dinner guests. Unfortunately the head pastry chef was ill and the 16-year-old apprentice Franz Sacher stepped in on his behalf. He created a chocolate cake so delicious that he soon became rich and famous! There are two places where this torte can be found in Vienna (at least an authentic version) – the Sacher Hotel and a cafe called Demel. We opted to eat the cake at Demel and were definitely not disappointed! Rich chocolate cake, with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle and thick chocolate icing!! Best shared – unless diabetes is your thing! Fun fact: Austrians celebrate National Sachertorte Day each year on December 5! Fun fact 2: for an exorbitant fee, you can have the Sachertorte shipped internationally within 48 hours!
A two and a half hour train ride saw us arrive in Salzburg, the hometown of Mozart! Salzburg is a beautiful city, with a good splashing of charm and beauty! Unfortunately, it rained for the entire two days we visited, but armed with our raincoats, we were determined to make the most of our time!
First stop was a funicular ride to the Hohensalzburg Fortress! This is an old castle where you can get the most gorgeous views of the city and surrounding countryside! The fortress was primarily constructed in the 16th century to protect the city, and was never taken in battle.
Our next stop was the Mirabell Gardens, the famous baroque gardens that featured in The Sound of Music. Oh to be 16 turning 17 once more!
Whilst in Salzburg we also enjoyed meandering around the town, looking in all the beautiful stores and admiring the architecture. The Main Street of the old town, called Getreidegasse (Grain Lane) was formerly the traders street. As most traders were illiterate, the stores were given elaborate signs to indicate the type of store. It is also home to Mozart’s Birthplace, quite the tourist hotspot!
Across the river, we ventured for a short hike into the woods on Kapuzinerberg Hill! Here we walked along the old town wall and found some amazing spots for photos of Salzburg! Not the best signposted area (at least not in English) but it was definitely fun walking around and getting lost #offthebeatentrackmoment.
Next on our bucket list of adventures is Gosau and Hallstatt!
Until next time,
AP & DT