International TravelThings I LoveWining/Dining

EUROPEAN VACATION, PART 2 – VIENNA

This is the second in a series of posts.  See previous here.

Stop #2 after Prague is Vienna, which destination has long been at the top of the list for a return trip.  I sometimes dream of going at Christmas thanks to a Hallmark fave “Christmas in Vienna.” But that’s for another visit!  For this one, spring is likewise a special time to see this magical city.  Even when it’s still in the 40’s after a brief hot spell (we missed that).

Our concerns regarding getting to Vienna on time per the last post were for naught.  The hotel access was unimpeded by the marathon closures about which we had been warned! Plenty of time to check in, change, have a bite at the rooftop brasserie, and walk to the opera.

What did we see? A performance of Georges Bizet’s Carmen at the magnificent Vienna State Opera (“Wiener Staatsoper”).  The hubby is generally a good sport attending, while obviously he would rather be seeing a rock concert.  I’m not quite sure why this production was signifcantly raunchier than I remember.  Regardless, the music is magnificent.  I loved that the subtitles are available via seatback tablets which are a very cool idea.

For the proverbial “when in Rome” (substitute Vienna) activity, one must indulge in desserts.  At the top of the list is the infamous Sachertorte. The origin of this dessert may be subject to interpretation, but a virtual cottage industry has been built around it. I personally opted for a phenomenal strudel post opera at nearby Cafe Sacher.

A return visit to the grounds of Schonbrunn Palace was a no-brainer.  The scope of this Unesco World Heritage site is breathtaking! It is very near to Vienna itself, easy to access via cab or public transportation.

Above, looking toward and away from the palace across vast grounds. 

Below, photo fun in the kid’s area mirrored kaleidoscope.

A priority without question for this visit is dinner at Steirereck

You know how you have memories of a place and they loom larger as times goes by?  And then after a return visit, the result is “it’s not as good as I remember it” or “as it used to be.”  Well, this was the exact opposite.  It was indeed as good if not better than 2012, our last visit. It might be even more beautiful. And we’re both certain we sat at the same table (a fluke).

The “world of Steirereck” continues to expand with the farm and lodging some 90 minutes from Vienna.  “Farm to table” is a bit ubiquitous these days, but they actually practice it faithfully.  Scraps do not go to waste, but rather are collected for feeding their farm animals. The food is serious but fun. And delicious. And watching the staff flawlessly move about? A beautifully choreographed pleasure. Enjoy below.

Really, what more does one need?  Great Austrian wines and superb bread.  “Brot Andy” has been there since 2005.  We remembered him well.  He knows every variety in great detail.  His favorite? None; he no longer eats bread as he began consuming too much! 

Below, our a la carte choices (there is a pre-fixe menu as well):  Grilled broccolini; white asparagus (now in season); chicken with paprika and lamb.  

A detailed menu card is provided with EVERY dish.  Saved me from having to take notes! 

The desserts — bottom right is rhubarb with peach inside that gorgeous meringue dome.  Others were a variety of small bites provided.  Top is dried and sweetened citrus peel (6 varieties!)

Finally, the entrance way; wine selection; selection of cordials; enormous cheese cart; and the kitchen.  Owner/proprietor Heinz Reitbauer is “center stage” while his wife Birgit is everywhere else. 

The Albertina Museum complex is simply a world-class venue with distinct parts.  We visited The Modern wing, showcasing Roy Lichtenstein 100 years since his birth.  A substantial number of his works were on display along with the exhibition Monet to Picasso.  Below, for our dear friend/financial guru Brad who would NEVER let us sink! Separately, if you know Lichtenstein’s use of dots, one can discern the era of his works based on how large or small the dots are.  The dots became larger as time went on through the use of tools.

After that bit of culture, we culminated our Vienna stay with dinner at Plachutta Wollzeile for classic Viennese cuisine (perfect schnitzel; caramel sundae; a wonderful Pinot Noir gifted to us – that story to follow).  Our dinner companions Werner & Niki are dear friends of our dear LA friends.  It was perfect.

Below, with Roland Hamberger — our new friend/Managing Director

extraordinaire of Rosewood Vienna

This relatively new hotel is in the heart of the city but just enough off the busiest area to feel quiet and calm.  It is the perfect combination.  Roland took superb care of us (the wine was a bonus!); his entire staff was excellent.  What a pleasure!

Vienna may just be my favorite city.  Given the culture, cuisine, shopping, big open streets, walkable but with excellent public transportation, wonderful people  — a return visit will be much sooner!

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