I’ll be honest and admit that I’d never before thought of Vienna as a holiday destination – mainly because I get fed up of rainy grey days and tend to plump for sun-sea-sand weeks away, though with a fair bit of history/culture to balance out all that sun-tanning!
However, visiting my lovely friend Charlotte, who moved to Vienna last year, has shown me I’d definitely go back.
Now that I’m back home, fully rested from the rather arduous travelling (bloody late coaches! We’ll say no more...!), and back to work (boo!), I thought I’d prolong my holiday by sharing my views of Vienna with you:
Taking first place in my favourites list is Stephansdom, or St Stephen’s Cathedral. Founded in 1137, further construction/renovation continued until 1511, with conservation work currently taking place. Much is said about the spires, roof and tombs (all pretty amazing, it has to be said)...
...but for me the wonder, the awe, is in the stained glass windows.
Perhaps it was simply that we popped into Stephansdom at just the right time to witness the sun, at just the right strength, streaming through the stained glass at just the right angle. The filtered fusion of colours transformed the interior of the cathedral into an art installation, and I was stunned to silence.
I’ll forgive you for thinking my pictures must have been photoshopped but I promise you they haven’t: those shades, that atmosphere, are real. The sun truly is a special thing. It took me a while to realise that the stained glass windows were clear, coloured panes; no images are etched onto them to tell a story (which is the opposite to any stained glass window I’ve ever seen) – yet this omission made the cathedral’s message somehow more special, more enlightening.
Anyhoo, that’s quite enough philosophy for one day! Let’s move onto the equally enriching experience of...
This is a Viennese specialty...and a very yummy one at that!
Sachertorte is a chocolate sponge cake coated in dark chocolate icing, with apricot jam in the centre. I took mine without cream (because I hate it!), but I’ve just discovered that cream is traditionally eaten with it as Sachertorte is thought of as dry. Oops. I do like a bit of tradition, but, to me, the chocolate-and-apricot taste was just divine on its own and not at all dry!
Food-wise and working backwards from dessert to main course (as I always do when I go out for a meal...choose which delectable pudding to indulge in first, and then pick a good, light main to justify it!), I would also recommend the...
Traditionally, it is a veal dish but you can opt for the popular pork version; coated in breadcrumbs, it is fried until golden brown and served with potato salad. I tried it on my first night in Vienna and the few, warm bites I had were lovely and tasty...but unfortunately I was ill with a migraine and couldn’t manage any more L However, Austria is like America in the way of the doggy-bag (or boxing up your leftover meal to take home with you), which is a very un-English thing to do (we either scoff it down or, most unusually, leave it!) and quite hard to get used to – but very handy, in that we got to take my Schnitzel home with us. I can report that it is equally tasty eaten cold and with fresh Austrian rolls (which I think were called Kaisersemmel...) for breakfast...though this way of eating Schnitzel probably has any chef up in arms!
On my second day in Vienna, Charlotte and her husband took me to the Museumsqurtier, which is a hub of art museums, galleries and exhibition spaces. We sat outside at a cafe and watched the world go by for a bit...and had the weather been nicer (it was grey and raining...see, I just can’t escape it!), we’d probably have had a good wander round. Though I didn’t visit any of the places in the Museumsquartier, I am rather jealous that Vienna has such a place, as I’d love to be able to access such culture so easily each day. How about it, then, town planners?! Charlotte and I did take in the sights of fellow art museum the Albertina the following day, so I did fit a bit of culture in!
I'll see you later in the week when I share more Vienna Views...