Archive for April, 2012

Weekend in Vienna

April 22, 2012

Our friends recently got married in Vienna so we flew over to the Austrian capital to spend the weekend there. We managed to cram in a lot of activities around the wedding, and the day itself was a beautiful affair. Many international guests were present and it was the first time I’d been to a celebration which was carried out in three different languages – English, German and Turkish!

The service was next to a pavilion in a park in the centre of the city and then the reception was at a top class restaurant called Vestibül which I would highly recommend.

Gourmet food at the wedding

On the night we arrived we had dinner at a traditional Austrian restaurant called Stadt-Heurigen. Set over three floors it feels as though you are in a deep warren of wine cellars yet the fairy lights twinkling everywhere give it a glamorous touch.

We had typical Viennese food which consisted of pork schnitzel and a delicious potato salad that I was quickly hooked on. It’s served cold but with a yummy dressing consisting of mustard and vinegar.

Traditional fare at an old style cafe

The odd thing was that people still smoke in restaurants in Austria, even 10 metres underground, which took a little getting used to!

The following day and the morning of the wedding, we strolled around the Museum Quarter and ate breakfast in one of the museum’s cafe. I had a Mexican breakfast whilst my husband had museli with yoghurt and our friends had pancakes.

The rest of the day went off without a hitch and it was an intimate wedding with 30 guests who seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.

On our final day, thankfully our hangovers weren’t throbbing too badly, we went further out of the centre of Vienna to visit the Schönbrunn Palace. Set in landscaped gardens which included a labyrinth, fountains and monuments, the palace was built in the mid-1500s and features nearly 1,450 rooms.

The maze at the palace

Unfortunately only about 40 of these are open to the public but strolling through them gave you a good insight into the lives of the super rich back then. One of the queens who lived there had hair down to her ankles – imagine living in time with hair like that and no shampoo!

In the afternoon we went back into the city centre and visited St Stephen’s cathedral and its catacombs. Many priests were buried under the cathedral, as well as members of the royal family. During the plague back in the 1700s the cemeteries in the city were over crowded so they created a mass grave in the bowels of the church. More than 11,000 bodies were thrown in there and you can view their skeletons as you walk around the cobbled underground vaults. Eerie.

Wanting to lighten the mood (my husband had since left to catch an earlier flight) I went to one of the most famous restaurants in Vienna with my new found friends, Sophia and Joe, who were also part of the wedding party.

We chose Figlmüller as a place to dine, which had been running for more than a hundred years and had a queue leading out onto the street which is always a good sign.

The food didn’t disappoint. I tried something new and had boiled beef, whilst Joe had homemade Viennese gnocci and Sophia had a schnitzel that was bigger than her plate! It was all washed down with wine that comes from the owner’s vineyard. The restaurant doesn’t serve beer which was a little un-Austrian, I thought!

Delicious food!

To finish off my delightful weekend away, we went to a wine festival which was located outside the city’s stunning gothic-looking city hall. There were plenty of stalls which served Austrian wine in proper glasses (unheard of at Australian festivals) and had people dancing on the tables by 3pm! The event featured more traditional food, unusual stalls such as the shop selling products made from mares’ milk (!) and Austrian dancing with the performers dressed up in traditional costume.

(To view a video of the dancing, click here)

It was a great way to finish off my 48 hours in the city and I would recommend putting Vienna into your itinerary the next time you plan a European holiday.