Part 2 of the Vienna guide looks at the cultural life of Vienna and places to rest your bones after long days of sightseeing.
Mozart is everywhere in the city. While Mozart was born in Salzburg he made his name composing music for wealthy Austrians, including the Emporor, who were living in Vienna. If you are a fan of Mozart’s music, or, you want to learn more about him, you could spend weeks in Vienna.
While Mozart at 34 died in 1791, he lives on in the form of his music, but also Mozart impersonators who wander the center of Vienna attempting to sell tickets to one of the many Mozart concerts that play in the city most nights of the week.
In fact, looking out of the window at the Hofburg Palace a Mozart can be seen resting and checking email on his SmartPhone.
Or, later, Mozart on his cell phone.
Mozart, Beethoven,Mahler, Strauss and other composers are in the blood of Austrians. While in the US or UK opera and classical music has a niche audience, in Austria classical music is widely loved. Concerts sell out and often mostly with locals. The Vienna State Opera is so popular seats are placed outside the hall and the concerts are broadcast to jumbo televisions to more anxious opera lovers who have paid to sit for the evening in the cold.
Vienna is famous for a couple of foods that have spread throughout the world. The Wiener Schnitzel, meaning Viennese cutlet, was invented in Vienna. You will find this dish all over the city, but, as often happens with iconic foods, the quality will vary, so go with care.
The second gift of Vienna to the world is the wonderful Sacher Torte. This classic chocolate cake is layered with apricot preserve and covered with more chocolate. It was invented by Franz Sacher for a Prince back in 1832. Slice of Sacher Torte on a plate with whipped cream is one of the delights of life and should be experienced by everyone. While many modern chocolate cakes are overly sweet, Sacher Torte is balanced just right. A hotel is now named after Sacher and it is a wonderful location to sample the cake.
Cafe culture is still alive and well in Vienna, but our favorite cafe in the city is the venerable Demel Cafe that is close to the imperial palace. We defy most people to walk past the store window and not stop for a look. Most people who stop will want to go inside and indulge. Demel has been part of the dining scene in Vienna since the time of American Revolution and it will be around for years to come.
Another favorite is Do and Co which is situated on the eighth floor in the ultra modern hotel across from the Cathedral. You can see St. Stephen’s cathedral reflected in the windows in the picture above. The service and food are wonderful, as is the view of the Cathedral just yards away across the square.
The other restaurant you may want to visit would be Labstelle. The restaurant is part of the recent farm to table movement and features produce that is grown within the city limits and all meat is raised locally. Austrian food is front and center.
Away from the center of the city and a good place to try if you are unsure what will tickle your pallet would be the Naschmarkt. This Viennese institution that has been a favorite since the 16th Century. A food market by day and an ecclectic collection of restaurants by night.
Vienna is a great place to visit and easy to get around. It should be one anyone’s European travel list.