August 3 A Walking Tour of Vienna

No matter how tired you might feel at the end of a day, a walking tour is a great introduction to any city or town, and a walking tour of Vienna is exactly what we did today.

We started our morning off with what might be the highlight of any visit to Vienna, a tour of the Opera House. Built over 140 years ago, it is stunning inside and well worth a visit. As you enter the Opera House, straight ahead at the top of the steps is a room fit for a king, and it was too. In the late 1800s, patrons would check to see if the room was lit. If it was, the emperor was there most likely enjoying a cup of tea. Our guide took us behind the stage where ten trucks per day drive right up on it to deliver the scenery. We heard that one time the maestro couldn't find a parking space. In desperation, he drove his car right onto the back of the stage and parked it there. As in any tour, there is always one family who stands out. On our tour it was an American family who monopolized the guide's time by asking trivial questions. He entertained them with guessing games such as, "Guess how much it costs to go to the opera ball?"

Feeling hungry, we went to the Hotel Sacher for their world famous Sacher torte. It's layers of delectable chocolate cake with apricot filling. A cup of cappucinno was the perfect complement.

During the summer there are numerous classical music concerts all over the city. Everywhere you look are salesman dressed as Mozart. We're hoping to find a concert that doesn't feature musicians wearing 18th century outfits.

Following our walking tour map, lunch today was at Rosenberger Market. It's so touristy not a single resident from Vienna probably ever goes in there, but you can get great salads, fresh fruit, pasta, and a cooked meal served cafeteria style, all for a reasonable price.

Our next walking tour stop was St. Stephen's Cathedral. The oldest part dates back to the 1200s. Sadly, photographs show devastating destruction during the war, but thanks to the generocity of donors, it was restored

Before heading to the museums, we stopped at Julius Meinl. According to Rick Steves, it's an aristocratic grocery store with cheese, wine, herbs, jams, vegetables, fine chocolates, and even gourmet potato chips all displayed as if they are in museum.

In the late afternoon, David wanted to visit an art history museum and I wanted to visit a natural history museum, both from the Habsburg's empire. After agreeing to meet at a fountain, we went our separate ways to the museums which were directly across from each other. I paid 12 euro for my ticket and never thought twice about the fact that instead of a dinosaur, it had a gilded carriage on it. Turns out I was in the art history museum! No problem, though. David promptly showed up and we toured it together. We saw a magnificent collection of paintings by Peter and Jan Bruegel, Velazquez, Carravaggio, and even a painting by Vermeer. Downstairs was an Egyptian collection and a desk top cameo once owned by Julius Caeser.

By 6:00 our feet couldn't take it anymore. We stopped at Demel, an old world cafe since 1786 for another coffee and tiny torte. It was delicious.

Dinner tonight was in Spitleberg Quarter of Vienna at Witwe Bolte. Eating outside in their candlelit garden, we felt as if we were in the countryside, yet we we were actually in the heart of the city. Not a car was in sight and cicadas chirped in the summer night. Our meal was incredible. I had spinach stuffed dumplings topped with pine nuts and David enjoyed lasagna that was the best ever. Paper thin pasta was cut with a biscuit cutter and stacked in three layers heaped and topped with mushrooms and garnished with blueberries.

We took the Ubahn back to the hotel and noticed an interesting display on the subway platform. Science Goes Public featured a meteorite, fossils, and an 18th century illustrated guide to arachnids. It's now midnight and we're looking forward to another great day tomorrow.


CoachSparky said…
You sure are eating well! The descriptions of the food are mouth watering and rival those of the Phantom Gourmet! That's funny about the Mozart outfits:) I'm wondering if they have any that might fit one of the coaches...I'd be interested in seeing pictures of Julius Meini.
Susan Erickson said…
Wonderful writing as usual. I love your descriptions of what you are seeing and eating. I feel like I am there with you!

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