I believe that I’m so lucky to live in Europe, that although you might have to waiting in a crowded airport lounge, we’re actually only a couple of hours flight away from such a vast array of countries and cultures to explore. This was confirmed to me when travelling recently with a friend from Canada who has been working in the UK. We had a mutual love for Zotter’s chocolate and agreed we definitely had to visit the bonkers factory, south of Vienna for a long weekend. In the time it took us to get from London to Vienna, you would still be traveling across her hometown state, with a whole lot of the same trees for a view.
We had a couple of days around Vienna as well as hiring a car to travel to Zotter’s factory, which was a first for me, less scary when out the main city and not punching the door whilst trying to change gear on the wrong side! But more on our trip to Zotter’s in my next post, as you can’t fit all the chocolaty goodness in!
Staying in a hostel opposite the Naschmarkt, waking up the the sounds of the stall owners setting up for the day, then wandering down with delicious traditional and exotic stalls selling everything from bratwurst and baklava, as well as schnitzel and beer restaurants and one of the best Middle Eastern restaurant, that luckily was still open when we got in late for some tasty hummus and mezze. As well as picking up tasty souvenirs from the market and breakfast, it’s well worth a visit to check out all the great street art finding in various corners of the market.
St Stephen’s Cathedral
The sights of the city, handily are located on a ring road, so you can stroll the tree lined boulevards while soaking in the beautiful sight of this stunning city. No visit would be complete without a visit to St Stephen’s Cathedral, completed in 1160 and a trip up the tower for incredible views across the city and of the tiled roof of the Cathedral.The crypt is supposed an eerie visit but was closed unfortunately when we were in the city. Outside the cathedral, there is plenty of gentlemen dressed in 18th century garb to promote the many Mozart concerts taking place in the city, giving the city another time vibe which is so lovely to stroll through amongst the dominating architecture.
Sachertorte, Sacher Hotel
Whilst sight seeing, it is most important to keep your energy levels up and what better way to restore those reserves than a slice of Sachertorte? Everywhere in the city has their own Sachertorte on offer but we visited the birth place of this rich treat, Sacher Hotel. Invited but Franz Sacher in 1832 fro Prince Wenzel von Mettenich. Consisting of layers of chocolate sponge, apricot jam and a chocolate glaze. A good balance of rich, tart fruitiness and finishing with even more richness, perfect. Sat under crystal chandeliers on velvet seats for a decadent pause cafe. The Sachertorte has been made in to an ice cream flavour for those hot days in the city and a must try for an extra hit of decadence.
Austrian National Library
I’m a self confessed Disney fan and when researching our trip, seeing the stunning images of the Austrian National Library, that it was part of the inspiration on the library in Beauty and the Beast, it bumped a visit right up on my list. Being a lover of books as well, it was just amazing being surrounded by so many books in such a wonderful setting. Ceilings and walls with high decorated in fresco whilst holding 12 millions books below and established in 1368, a hush of awe from the visitors marveling at the surroundings. I found the space so calming and could happily have curled up here and spent the day reading, especially with the gentle sun beams streaming through the windows.
Ok I definitely had a must try food list for my visit to Vienna. High on this list was to get a great Schnitzel. Figmüller has been severing the city since 1905, of this delicious (if you’re not vegetarian!) meaty dish. Thin pork or chicken, breaded and fried to a crisp dream, with a wedge of lemon to cut through the richness. I had mine with a crisp Riesling and become obsessed with the gently warm mustard potato salad on the side.
The schnitzel was so big, it overhung the edge of my plate and a lot bigger than my face…and stomach. Perfect for when that cold snap starts moving in to the city.
Apple Strudel and Mozart
‘Cream Coloured Ponies and Crisp Apple Strudels, Doorbells and Sleigh Bells, And Schnitzels With Noodles, Wild Geese That Fly With The Moon on Their Wings, These Are A Few of My Favourite Things’ I may have sung this song and line from Sound of Music, far too many times over the weekend and even more when tucking in to warm crisp apple strudel at Cafe Mozart. Another item on my to taste list when visiting and was a great spot to people watch the city when tucking in to buttery shards of crisp filo pastry, tart apple slices with creamy custard to put a smile on your face.
Goulash and Dumplings, Griechenbeisel
The entrance to Griechenbeisel Inn, is like stepping back in to a Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, vines and knights protecting the entrance to one of Vienna’s oldest inns, established in 1447 and with past visitors such as Mark Twain, Beethoven and Wagner, as well as a whole host of local politicians throughout the many years serving local delicacies.
I went for the rib sticking Beef Goulash and ‘Chopped’ Dumplings with plenty of butter, which I’m sure in the past was used to warming yourself up from a harsh winter. But for me it was a decadent treat after walking the city. Local music is played by musicians in traditional dress, whilst the gentle chatter of the dinners and glasses clinking makes for the perfect dinner soundtrack.
Being caught in the action, as ever taking pictures of my food!
Had a wonderful couple of days exploring this wonderful city and there is still so much for me to see, which just means I get to visit Vienna again in the future. stay tuned to read all about our trip to Zotter’s chocolate factory whilst we were visiting Vienna, it’s chocolate packed!
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