Coffee and the promise of food are hard to escape in Vienna. So, as we took our walking tour we were mindful of the places we’d come back to. I know I’m not alone; after my blog last week, I’ve had several suggestions of delectable places we missed.
Our tour bus dropped us at the Hofburg Palace, for centuries the seat of power of the Hapsburg family; now the official residence and office of the Austrian President. Its statuary alone is worth the stop, and frankly, all we had time for. We trotted over to the Spanish Riding School but no tours on a Monday (the day we were there) – we waved to the famed Lipizzaner stallions, though. Our guide told us that the horses know they are superstars; maybe that’s why they didn’t wave back...
We made our way from the Palace, through small streets and narrow arcades, on our way to St Stephan’s Cathedral (Steffl). Then, we headed to a café across from the Giant’s door and stopped for a leisurely coffee and kuchen; it was delicious. We strolled across the square to the H&M store, although not to buy a T-Shirt. Our guide had told us that the locals held their breath when H&M took over this building – they feared that the historic Art Deco interior would be gutted. They needn’t have worried; it has been incorporated into the store, making it a stylish place to browse.
A stroll down the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse, draped with florists, chocolatiers, clothing stores and gift shops revealed remarkable decorative building facades. We dodged the heat and humidity popping in and out of air-conditioned stores. I noticed that Europeans use A/C differently than in North America, though – we try to replicate room temperature, whereas in Europe, they cool it just enough to make it bearable.
We walked beyond the State Opera House and found a place for lunch, sitting on a patio in the shade – we order schnitzel and a glass of cool, white wine. I can only say ‘mmmmm.’
Later, as I attempted the Karlskirche stairs, Carol relaxed in a park at the Heumarkt. Beyond the fountain this park has a large Soviet-style memorial. The Soviets went to great lengths as World War II came to a close to capture Vienna, as part of their expansion or as a bargaining chip, with their other Allies (USA, UK and France). They raised this monument to honour their dead in that offensive. The Allies controlled Vienna and Austria from 1945 to 1955 and Vienna was divided into zones similar to Berlin. The beauty of the historical Viennese architecture is all the more remarkable when you consider that most of the city was razed to the ground during WWII, so it’s all been painstakingly restored.
|Coffe & Strudel|
Seeking shade, we walked down into Stadtpark (City Park) and into a café in the trees – it was time for coffee and strudel, and a picture with Johann Strauss! But our time had run out; it was back to the ship to dress for a sparkling night out. As we grabbed our bus we glimpsed the Riesenrad (Giant Ferris Wheel), featured in the Orson Welles’ movie, The Third Man. This symbol has dominated the skyline for 125 years.
|The Vienna Riesenrad|