Vienna, The city has played host to many famous musicians like Mozart, Beethoven,Brahms.Music, Arts and Opera have been part of the culture for many centuries. Vienna is also well known for its Coffee. I did not need further beckoning. With the agenda of a musical evening and tasting coffee in a few of its traditional Coffee bars, we packed our bags and landed in Vienna.
We stayed in Hotel Das Tigara, located centrally, close to the St Stephens Cathedral, Hofsburg Palace and other sight seeing points of interest. And it is claimed that the Musical genius Mozart, himself having resided in Das Tigara before it was converted in to a Hotel.After checking in to the hotel and leaving the luggage in room, we decided to walk around the city before we start visiting the places of interest.
The City of Vienna is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Wandering around in Vienna, I admired the architecture which is beautiful,ornate, and predominantly Roman and Baroque style. There are modern buildings and architecture too.We wandered around Stephansplatz, where the St Stephens Cathedral is situated. The Cathedral stands tall surrounded by markets, shops and eating places. You can sit in the piazza sipping a coffee or a drink with the view onto the magnificent Cathedral. We walked around a bit in the Market, around Palais Ferstel, we decided we will visit the Sisi Museum and Silver collection. Sisi Museum is dedicated to Queen Elisabeth of Austria, who was fondly referred as Sisi. The Queen often misunderstood , has a very intriguing persona. Married in to royalty at a very young age ,not very keen on becoming a queen, had very quirky regime of beauty and fitness , retreated from court life, epitomised at her death, beautiful Sisi has inspired many stories, movies and tales. The Sisi museum is an effort in understanding her , gives an insight in to her life and personality, and has displays of her personal items, ranging from her wedding gowns , dresses , jewellery to her death mask. I had not known much about the Queen before this visit, nor I knew much about the Hapsburgb dynasty. Being an history buff,I found the museum interesting. Royalties, love them or loathe them, they do inspire a many fascinating tales and stories. The same building houses a large collection of silver and Tableware of former Royalty, used to run the imperial household and court. The collection now belongs to the Republic of Austria. In the days of monarchy, the collection was held in a Silver Chamber under supervision and it was used for court banquets and running of the Royal household. Since the end of monarchy , the collection or part of the remaining collection is used for public display here and time to time used for state dinners and banquets given by the Republic. The most fascinating part of the collection for me, was the unique way of folding the napkins, with a space for bread. The technique of folding these are a secret and are passed on only to a few , and only by word of mouth. Even today during state banquets, the napkins are folded in unique way by the current keeper of secret of Napkin folding.
We stopped at Demel Konditorei for some coffee and cake. Konditorei means Confectionery.Der Demel as it is referred locally was established in 1786. The coffee house has the title of purveyor to the Royal and Imperial court. Word has it that many celebrities having visited the coffee house and also Sisi having visited Demel for its pastries. We sat on the first floor of the coffee house. We were informed we order our coffee at the table and choose our cakes at the cake counter, the counter gives you a token , which you bring back to your table and is collected by the waiter of your table . The coffee was served with a glass of tap water. I quiet adore the coffee house culture of Vienna. The coffee houses are integral part of the Viennesse culture. UNESCO has given the Viennesse coffee houses a status Intangible Cultural Heritage. It’s stated Viennesse Coffee house is “where time and space are consumed , but only the coffee is found on the bill.” And I so agree with it.
After the coffee we walked in to the St Stephens Cathedral. It’s a working Roman Catholic 12th century built church. The church was the venue for wedding of famous musicians like Mozart,Joseph Haydn. Funerals of Mozart and Antonio Vivaldi were held in the Church. The day we visited the Cathedral there was an event going called “talk with God” the whole of Cathedral was illuminated with lights and candles, with throngs of people.
After the Stephensdom, we wandered around more, took the tram and we walked around Ringstrasse. Ringstrasse is a circular road with very beautiful Architecture and buildings. The famous buildings on the route are the Austrain Parliament, Vienna Opera House,University of Austria,Burgtheatre,Rathhaus or Town Hall, which one of my friends on looking at a photograph thought looked something out of a fairy tale. Incidentally the Town hall has vintage carnival rides. We ended the day with a yummy dinner.
The next day we visited the Schonbrunn Palace. It was the residences for the Imperial family , Hapsburg. The palace is beautiful and has huge gardens and ground The palace is predominantly Baroque style, with more than 1000 rooms. There are many movies shot in gardens the famous one being James Bond movie Living Day. We did the Grand Tour of the Palace whereby we saw the 40 rooms, which give glimpse how the palace changed with passage of time and rulers.In the grand tour we saw state rooms, private apartments of Franz Joseph and Sisi, and part of 18th Century Royal rooms.
The next stop was the National Library of Austria. For a book lover, it is like a child walking in to Toysrus.wall to wall book cabinets filled with books. I can spend hours together strolling and gazing at the printed wonders bound and neatly stacked. The state hall or Prunksaal is adorned with beautiful frescoes on the wall and on ceiling. Equipped with my I phone camera I tried capturing photos with Pano view, whereby you can take wider view photos. I am still working on my pano mode skills. The resulting photos are stupendous or iconic in their own way, fit more probably for Halloween , with floating heads and several limbs. The photographs though captured the beautiful ceiling, left my husband and me roaring with laughter. I could almost hear my niece’s voice in my head saying ” I always knew people born in 20th century cannot handle 21st century technologies”
Later in the evening we attended a small musical event, which was ensemble of opera songs. I would like to attend a opera at the Opera House or Schonbrunn Palace. After the show we strolled around Stephensplaz and sat in the piazza and enjoying the splendours of illumination on spire of Cathedral and parts of city,soft murmuring and chatter from other tables, the clanging of cups and plates and cutleries, cool breeze sending a shiver and spreading chill. Pulling my scarf around for more warmth, and watching the inane activities, bring the city alive and buzzing with noise. I savoured the moment along with my coffee.
The next day we visited the Winter Palace and Belvedere both palaces are in baroque Style. Belvedere was Summer Palace with huge gardens and Orangery.The palace is divided into Lower Belvedre and Upper Belvedere.The palaces were destroyed during the World War II. THe palaces have been restored and now used for exhibitions . It now houses the largest collection of Austrian Art. Gustav Klimt’s famous work The Kiss is on display at Upper Belvedere with other works by the artist . The winter palace situated in the inner city Vienna used during winters as name suggests by Imperial family is also open to public and is used to exihibit art work in the state rooms.
After th the Winter palace we dropped in at Albertina. Albertina houses the a collection of Art works of Impressionism, Pointism, Modernists. Works of French of Impressionist like. Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas to Modernists , Surrealists like Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, ,Max Ernst are in the permanent collections display.
The last stop before we left for the airport to leave Vienna was the quintessential coffe house of the city- Cafe Sacher. The atmosphere of coffee shop is elegant, we sat outside in the terrace to catch in the buzz of the city. I ordered the famous Sacher torte with a coffee – Wien Melange. Coffee houses in Vienna are a place for people who love their coffees and cakes. I loved the coffee , the ambience and the whole coffee experience. The Sacher torte itself, it is a tad too chocolaty ,dry and rich for my taste. I preferred the Demel’s Almond cake. But I guess I am not a Sacher torte person, but definitely will visit Cafe Sacher again for a coffee and may be some other cake.
Aurevoir!! bye!! see you!! later!!! Vienna .For all those familiar with Richard Linlater s famous Movie set in Vienna ,”Before Sunrise” , would be familiar with the Goodbye scene between Jesse and Celine. I was merely saying Bye to the city until we meet again.