20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

September 22, 2017
20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

A city a day keeps the wanderlust at bay...
20 DAYS. 20 CITIES. 6 COUNTRIES.
AUSTRIA • SLOVENIA • BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA • CROATIA • MONTENEGRO • ITALY

PART 1, DAYS 1-3: CHASING THE GHOSTS OF THE 
AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE IN VIENNA, AUSTRIA

Has it already been half a year since I blogged about what is possibly the most extra reaction to a Youtube video by declaring my intention to chase Balkan ghosts with a 3 week tour of the former Yugoslavian states, beginning of course with the Austro-Hungarian empire (because we know those Habsburgs liked to have their fingers in many, many strudels) and nicely rounded off with a bit of Tuscany and the Italian Riviera? When I announced, back in May, My Ultimate Itinerary for an Austria, Balkans, and Italy Road Trip - or 'Travel Tasting Menu' in keeping with that month's #TRAVELLINKUP topic - the general consensus was "This isn't just a metaphorical meal, this is a feast of Bacchanalian proportions". Well consider me fed and watered on all things travel, for after 20 days of road-tripping and sleeping in a different hotel in a different city every other night I am truly indulged and laden with the travel equivalent of a food coma. *Burp* Now that I've had a week to recover from my long holiday I'm ready to recant my summer, starting with the first of many blog posts to come about 20 Days in 20 Cities and 6 Countries. First stop - Vienna, Austria. Grüß Gott!

VIENNA. NOW. FOREVER. 


20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
THE RED DINING ROOM OF HOTEL SACHER...
20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
...BIRTHPLACE OF THE FAMOUS SACHERTORTE.


◈ DAY 1 
HOTEL SACHER
PHILHARMONIKER STR 4, 1010 WIEN

"Let them eat cake..."

After a brief afternoon flight from London I landed in Vienna, somewhat prepared for the imperial splendour of what was once the cultural heart of Europe by the free flow of champagne of British Airways' Galleries First Lounge (off to a running start, clearly). Naturally, my dinner was the famous chocolate cake created for fellow sweet tooth-holder Prince Wenzel von Metternich. Sachertorte was invented in 1832 and is what the long line queuing outside its namesake, Hotel Sacher, comes for. Colour me controversial, but I didn't get the hype and wondered if its reputation was perpetuated less for the cake itself (I found it dry and overly sweet) but instead for its cult of personality thanks to the photogenic presentation and surroundings. Well, larger legends have been made of smaller things. My decidedly un-royal palate aside, the cafe of Hotel Sacher is really quite a nice place to sip a variety of frothy and imaginative coffees the Austrians are so fond off, the hotel itself being an institution steeped in luxury and history.



20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
THE CAFE OF THE VIENNA STATE OPERA HOUSE...
20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
...OPERA SEASON OR NOT, THE CAFE IS ALWAYS OPEN.

KUNSTHISTORICHES MUSEUM, OPPOSITE THE NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM
CATCHING FESTIVE VIBES AT VIENNALE IN CITY HALL SQUARE
20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria


20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria


◈ DAY 2 
KUNSTHISTORICHES MUSEUM
MARIA-THERESIEN-PLATZ, 1010 WIEN

Trippin' through time

Look, I don't care if you're a Philistine - you can't come to Vienna and miss the Kunsthistorisches Museum. At least not literally - the imposing neo-classical building rises from the landscape of the Museumsquartier, smack in the middle of Maria-Theresien-Platz (the square is helpfully landmarked by a larger-than-life monument of the great lady herself) and is one of the more stunning sights on the Ringstrasse, the city's famous 5km-long ring road.

Bursting to the seams with works by Europe’s finest painters, sculptors and artisans, the palatial neo-classical building is a time-travel treasure hunt from Classical Rome to Egypt and the Renaissance, spanning seven millennia of art history. That's a lot of classical art memes material right there. Many of the highlights - Titians, Rubens, and Van Dycks, oh my! - are condensed in the Picture Gallery, but rather than just browse a few Old Masters I had to spend an entire day (and even that was hardly enough) meandering about Kunsthistorisches Museum, with frequent coffee breaks at the equally breathtaking cafe. 

20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria



CAFE LANDTMANN
UNIVERSITATSRING 4, 1010 WIEN

I couldn't think of a better cafe (itself a way of Viennese life) to take my supper in than Café Landtmann, an epicentre of coffeehouse culture since 1873. The vision of founder Franz Landtmann has, over the course of 140 years, been lovingly kept alive by a series of custodians, the most recent being the Querfeld family since 40 years ago. Going by the historical dining room that's still inlayed with walls and mirrors from the 1920s and the occasional vintage motorcar parked outside (you can practically hear Freud, one of the cafe's frequent patrons, scribbling rather salacious observations in his journal over a plate of sausage) time would almost have seemed to stood still but for the modern concessions made for comfort, such as the air-conditioned winter garden that allows diners to enjoy their apple strudel and people-watch in comfort. Truly, Café Landtmann is a Grand Cafe that lives up to its mission to bring the history into the future, with style.


20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
CAPTION
20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
CAPTION
20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria

THE APPLE STRUDEL (ABOVE), SCHNITZEL...
...LANDTMANN SAUSAGE, AND STEAK TARTARE (BELOW) DID NOT DISAPPOINT.

20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria



◈ DAY 3 
SCHLOSS BELVEDERE 
PRINZ EUGEN-STRASSE 27, 1030 WIEN

Let's get schlossed

Is The Kiss at Schloss Belvedere the Austrian answer to the "Is that it?" experience of seeing the Mona Lisa at The Louvre for the first time? If you made the trip solely to see Gustav Klimt's famous work then yes, expect to be underwhelmed at seeing just glimpses of the gorgeous painting through the sea of heads clustered around it, their held up-iPads and whatnot adding sepulchral glows to the already eerie, darkened room. But Schloss Belvedere is more than the sum of Klimt's most famous painting, with 24 of his pieces in-situ it's the world's largest collection of this artist's work. The Baroque landmarks - consisting of two palaces, Upper and Lower Belvedere - is also the world's greatest collection of Austrian art, with some Monet and Van Gogh thrown in for good measure.


20 Days, 20 Cities, 6 Countries - Part 1: Vienna, Austria
SCHONBRUNN PALACE
 SCHONBRUNNER SCHLOSSSTRASSE 47, 1130 WIEN

It seemed only apt to pay my respects at Schonbrunn Palace, the year being the 300th birthday of Empress Maria Theresa. While the imperial summer residence initially began life as a hunting lodge, it was the Mother of Austria that made the palace truly her own, with its present neoclassical form built and remodelled during her reign, after she received Schonbrunn as a wedding gift. Her gift to the people of Austria was 16 children, including the notorious Marie Antoinette. Spending two decades of her life spent being perpetually pregnant didn't stop her from enjoying a picnic with a panorama - she was carried, on a chair, up to Gloriette hill so that she could sup with a view of Neptune Fountain and the very same view I'm enjoying here: that of the palace itself and of its vast gardens. The Habsburgs sure knew how to live...

The sun having set on my days in Vienna, it was time to pack my bags and head hinterland. 
Auf wiedersehen, Austria. Next stop, Slovenia... ‎■

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