Rapid Vienna

 Posted by at 11:39 am  Activities, Austria, Food  Add comments
Oct 302011

If we had to pick one metaphor for the city of Vienna (a city we saw all too quickly) it would be the Sacher Torte: exquisite, beautifully presented, historical, and a bit expensive.

The Original Sacher Torte is a chocolate cake with apricot-jam filling—first concocted in 1832—and served at the city’s fabled five-star Hotel Sacher (we didn’t stay there!).  It is served cold with a generous side of unsweetened whipped cream, and often paired with a Viennese coffee.  It was also the subject of a multi-year lawsuit.  The Hotel Sacher was of the opinion that it alone could serve the “Original Sacher Torte” and so was a rival Viennese baker.  The parties could not resolve their differences amicably, so they ended up in torte, er, court.  Ultimately, the two rival bakers reached a settlement, one result being that only the Hotel Sacher could serve up “Original Sacher Tortes.”  It served us two pieces each while we were in Vienna—we can see how taste that good would result in litigation.

Wienerschnitzel at Figlmüller

Apart from eating a lot of chocolate cake, we also managed to consume quite a lot of fried pork during our visit.  I managed three wiener schnitzels in three nights (not one regretted), while Bliss managed two schnitzels, one wiener and one chicken. It is not often that you get to mix “cultural exploration” with the consumption of deep-fried, highly-tenderized pork, so when the opportunity emerges, I highly recommend taking it.

We did not spend all of our time in Vienna eating, although it sometimes felt that way; we also saw some beautiful sights.  Notably, we enjoyed seeing St. Stephen’s Cathedral (an amazing Gothic cathedral, which unfortunately was under scaffolding during our visit); St. Peter’s Church (smaller, also beautiful, and not under construction); and the world-renowned State Opera House.

On one rainy day, we also visited several museums in the Hofburg Palace Complex near our hotel, including the Collection of Arms and Armor (Jude loved looking at the knights in armor—“knight” being a hit new vocab word—and even more the horsies in armor).  Mom and dad also enjoyed looking at art in the Hundertwasser (including a great exhibition on “winter” containing works from some of Europe’s best painters, which got us excited about moving to Vermont in January!); Jude snoozed.  The whole family enjoyed looking at the Austrian Crown Jewels kept at the Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury).

Much to the delight of Jude, on the day we visited the palace grounds, the Austrian Air Force was putting on some kind of a promotional display with lots of helicopters and airplanes parked—in an odd juxtaposition—next to the medieval palace, the oldest parts of which date back to the 13th century.  Jude got to climb on a fighter jet, and also had his picture taken with an Austrian airman.

Our last night in Vienna was unforgettable.  First, we ate a fantastic dinner at Figlmüller, gorging on wiener schnitzel and imbibing a bottle of grüner veltliner from the owner’s own vineyard (40 KM outside of Vienna); Jude was kept happy eating the delicious warm bread rolls.  This place was a hit.  The wood-paneling, bench seating and boisterous clientele give it a colorful atmosphere.  Although it’s a known tourist destination, the prices are reasonable and the food was very good; for parents, it’s relaxing because it’s loud and cavernous, so we were not worried about Jude disturbing other guests.  After dinner, we strolled leisurely back to our hotel, through the Hofburg Palace Complex, marveling at the sight of it through the early evening mist.

Next stop: India!




  One Response to “Rapid Vienna”

  1. We heard from a reader who wrote that:
    “…26 October is a national holiday, much like 4th July for Americans. So on this day there is an army parade to celebrate and the army puts on a display on front of the hofburg (Heldenplatz)”
    We were in Austria on the days leading up to Austrian National Day, so this explains the planes we saw outside the Hofburg Palace Complex. Thank you, Miriam!

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