Follow:
Browsing Category:

Austria

    Hellbrunn Palace: Trick Fountains and The Sound of Music

    It was 37°C. Our faces were practically melting off in the unusual summer heatwave across Europe, and we’d already spent the morning climbing via cable car 1,320m up the Untersberg Mountain, so we headed for Hellbrunn Palace with its trick fountains

    Hellbrunn Palace Salzburg Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Hellbrunn Palace is an early Baroque villa of palatial size, near Morzg, a southern district of the city of Salzburg, Austria. It was built in 1613–19 by Markus Sittikus von Hohenems, Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, and named for the clear spring that supplied it.

    Read more

    Share:

    An Austrian Lake Retreat at Lake Wolfgangsee in Sankt Gilgen

    During our week in Salzburg, we decided that a couple of nights in an Austrian lake retreat was in order – we just wanted a little peace and quiet in an out-of-the-way nook.

    Austrian Sankt Gilgen Lake District Retreat Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Furiously Google researching before we left, I hatched a plan to hop on the coaches that serve the towns dotted around Austria, and after boarding we merrily watched the countryside gradually change before our eyes over the 45-minute journey. Read more

    Share:

    9 of the best things to do in Salzburg

    Even if you don’t know the words to the Sound of Music or Falco’s epic 80s classic hit ‘Rock Me Amadeus’, you need to explore Salzburg for at least a long weekend at least once in your life. Most people roll up to this city for a day or so, hit up the tourist highlights and then disappear into another European country.

    9 of the best things to do in Salzburg Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

    The green waters of the Rhine shimmer through the centre of Salzburg, there is musical history practically drifting through the city walls and plenty of refreshing steins of beer to quench your thirst with.

    Read more

    Share:

    Vienna State Opera House

    As a foreigner coming from a country 150 (or so) years old, I can’t ever quite explain the fascination that old things has for us expats. As kids we were more likely to be sentenced to an afternoon on grassy fields playing in sunshine, whilst museums were kept as rainy day back up plans.

    What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Fast-forward 20 or so years and I find myself actively seeking out beautiful places. It doesn’t matter which country we’re in – like a bloodhound, my appetite for gilding and ornate decoration knows no end!

    The Viennese State Opera House, or Wiener Staatsoper is no
    exception. The moment you walk in (and ignore the excited crowds lining up to
    take a tour) you can imagine beautifully coutured ladies sweeping along the
    marble halls in their finery, on the arm of a well-dressed beau.

    What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our tour (I think it was 7 Euros each, no prebooking just wander in around the time listed on the website) took us on an ‘access all areas’ whistle stop tour of history, grandeur, name dropping (Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert – who we named one of our childhood cat’s after), the main staircase showing off seven allegorical statues made of Carrara marble, representing arts such as music, dance and sculpture, gilded columnades and a tea room lined with golden silk wall panels especially constructed for Emperor Franz Joseph.

    We were told that the Opera House was once the social hub of Vienna – where you went to be seen, and not necessarily bother to watch the performances on stage. That seems a waste to me, but then I’m not an 18th Century dandy!

    Solemnly opened on the 25th of May 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s Don Juan, in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth, the ornate building epitomised the cultural standing of Vienna in Europe and attracted classical music prodigies from around the world to study and write in their hallowed halls.

    What to do in Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    With only the main facade, the grand staircase, and the Schwind Foyer being spared from World War II bombs, the reconstructed building reopened in 1955 and the Vienna State Opera house became a symbol of hope and regeneration for the Austrian people.

    Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Top tip: book your Opera tickets as soon as you’ve booked
    your flights, or queue up on the day for cheap standing tickets.

    Also, don’t fall prey to a memory card wiping itself…

    Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Amazingly, there will be over 350 performances on the
    programme during the 2016/2017 season, including 221 opera performances, 57
    ballet performances, 7 concerts, 6 vocal matinées, 10 chamber music matinées, 8
    other matinées as well as numerous children’s opera performances, dance
    demonstrations by the ballet academy and other events. Whew.


    As a result, unbelievably almost each day they deconstruct the set and replace it with an entirely new one for the performance ahead. My favourite facts and figures as we wandered through the backstage is that it’s 27 meters high and 50 meters deep, is twice as large as the auditorium. The performance area features six platforms, and there is a revolving stage at the back of the main stage.

    Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi
    Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    But, my absolute favourite aspect of the tour was the revelation that air is piped through from nearby gardens, so in late summer the auditorium will often smell faintly of cut grass and blossoms. Oh, that and regular attendees of the incredible annual Opera Ball will sneak out during the extravagant evening in full ballgowns and tuxedos to buy hotdogs from the nearby foodstalls because the prices are so exorbitant (bearing in mind that tickets to the ball themselves are £1,500+…)

    Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi


    We were disappointed to not be able to stay for a performance (Mr Kiwi was still poorly with a reoccurring bout of flu – a convenient excuse if you ask me) but when we return for another Vienna city break full of cake and schnitzel I’m definitely going. In the meantime I’ll just have to book another London Opera night

     Vienna State Opera House Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Have you also got an old buildings addiction or is it just me?

    Share:

    Where to find the best schitznel and cake in Vienna*

    It felt like every second meal we had on our 72 hour city break in Vienna was of the cake variety. Chalking it up to being away from home and the cake reputation Vienna seems to be associated with we indulged, cutting out unnecessary meals like breakfast and lunch.

    With my travel date (poor Mr Kiwi being dragged from tourist pillar to post) suffering from a reoccurring bout of flu, we didn’t make it out for any specifically special evening meals, mostly preferring to grab something on the hoof and laze in the spa, but decided to practice moderation, throwing out a few unnecessary vegetables over the weekend for a finely baked variety of opulence. As they say, a balanced diet is a cake in each hand.

    Where to find the best schitznel and cake in Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Our three favorite meals consisted basically of carbs and starch in varying permutations. Thank goodness for walking miles looking at beautiful buildings.

    Café Sacher Philharmoniker Str. 4, 1010 Wien

    Ranked by Tripadvisor as the second best coffee and cake in Vienna, (beaten only by Konditorei Heiner which we ran out of time to visit) the rich history of this hotel and cafe is steeped with intrigue. The story goes that Franz Sacher
    woked at Hotel Sacher (one of the most eminent hotels in Europe at the time) and became famous for his Sachertorte, which he allegedly
    created for a reception given by Austrian State Chnacellor Klemens von Metternich in 1832. Unusually, instead of naming the cake after the Chancellor or royalty at the time, he stuttered out his own name and went on to cause controversy between two hotels claiming this dish for their own.

    Cafe Sacher Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Cafe Sacher Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi 

    We absolutely couldn’t resist popping into the infamous Café Sacher – in fact I may just have written it into our hopeful schedule. Passing by the beautiful Hotel Sacher a couple of times during the course of the day and seeing the tourist queues snake around the corner, we held off until twilight fell and waited less than 5 minutes. (Just be warned, there is no British queue etiquette in Austria despite the orderly lines.)

    The service (where waiters wear starched French uniforms) is beautiful old-fashioned gentility, in rooms of classical opulence. Between us we ordered the signature SacherTorte, Ice Cream cake (replete with apricot Bellini), a copper pot of Turkish coffee and the most ridiculously moreish rum-laced hot chocolate. (Good thing we had walked for hours beforehand, huh?)

    Cafe Sacher Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Apparently locals spend afternoons over coffee, cake and a newspaper – and with cake shops and bakeries on every corner it’s no wonder.

    Cafe Sacher Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi Cafe Sacher Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We just had to try the results of a 184 year old recipe, and aided by a cloud of cream it didn’t disappoint.

    Hotel Imperial Kärntner Ring 16, 1015 Wien

    With an hour to go before we had to collect our bags and make our way to the airport, we knew there was one last stop we had to make. Originally constructed in 1863 as the Viennese residence of the
    Prince of Württemberg the building was transformed into the Hotel Imperial for
    the universal exhibition in 1873.

    Hotel Imperial luxury cake in Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    As you can see, the building is simply glorious, and we enjoyed a slice of Imperial Torte, the worlds most insane iced coffee… 

     Hotel Imperial luxury cake in Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

     

    Hotel Imperial luxury cake in Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    …and a grandiose selection of ice cream and sorbets.

     Hotel Imperial luxury cake in Vienna Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Almost enough to whittle away end of holiday blues, almost.

    Pürstner Restaurant 1010 Wien Riemergasse 10 (a 5 minute walk from St Stephens)

    Run by the Pürstner family for 3 generations, the restaurant is modelled on a typical house at the turn of the century and filled with quirks (perfect for sleepy holiday conversation lulls.) When my husband spotted the enormous stein of beer modelled above the doorway his step quickened and grin widened. “This looks like a fantastic place already!”

    Best Schnitzel in Vienna Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Unquestionably, this is the best discovery we have ever made on the internet. Ever. On our way back from a half day in Bratislava where the cold had seeped into our bones on the walking tour, I quickly Google searched ‘the best Schnitzel in Vienna’ (when in Rome and all that) and hidden at the bottom of the first page past all of the tourist-traps was a blogpost written by a local guy. On that post, he claimed that not only did Pürstner serve the best schnitzel, but he had visited multiple times and felt it was as good as his Mum’s.

    Best Schnitzel in Vienna Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We walked in at around 5.30 and were the last table the manager took without a reservation, turning away at least 40 people in the next hour or so who hadn’t booked either. We were slightly apprehensive after being warned that like in Prague, locals can be a little growly to tourists (for the record with my 6 words of Czech I never had a problem), but the lederhosen-clad manager welcomed us with a smile, we were seated us at a gingham dressed table and handed menus. We ordered beer and ice tea whilst perusing the (thankfully in German AND English) menu and checking out every one else’s plates surreptitiously

    Knowing full well that schnitzel was a must (weirdly enough we used to eat Schnitzel all the time as kids in New Zealand) we split a bowl of ‘old Viennese soup’ of beef & vegetable broth with noodles, a veal schnitzel (as big as your face – those leidenhosen dudes don’t mess about), beef steak stuffed with Camembert and ham, and plenty of buttery/fried potatoes. It was wintery starch/carb heaven.

    Best Schnitzel in Vienna Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

    Best Schnitzel in Vienna Austria Adventures of a London Kiwi

    We ♥ Pürstner.

    Whilst in the culture capital of Austira we also sampled a slice of apfel Strudel in the Mayerling Woods, a Sissi-Kaffee at Schonbrun Palace (as a proud Kiwi entrenched in Flat Whites, it pains me to admit that this was probably one of my favourite coffees ever, just so damn creamy!), a hot dog or two from street vendors and a few other nibbles on the way.

    * Based on the internet research findings of a Kiwi living on the wrong side of the globe

    Where to find the best schitznel and cake in Vienna

    Share: