Nine years ago, I spent a month in Vienna and completely fell in love with the city. I had a fantastic time, eating lots of food, meeting lots of people and speaking lots of German. A few weeks ago, I returned for a holiday. Here are a few highlights:
This hotel is a little refuge in the centre of the city. It has a handful of rooms arranged around a central courtyard, but we were lucky enough to stay in the garden room. This was a separate building to the rest of the hotel and came complete with garden terrace, log burner and a good selection of teas. The breakfasts here were excellent, with the traditional Brötchen and other breads, cold meats and cheese, fruits and yoghurt. It sounds simple, but the extremely high quality of the ingredients as well as the care taken in their presentation made it really special.
Possibly my favourite thing about Vienna is the coffee houses. I love the culture surrounding them, the fact that your hot drinks come with a little glass of water, the waiters in suits, the newspapers on little wooden frames, the pianos and the fabulous cakes. Café Diglas, near Stephansdom (the cathedral) is a great example of a typical Viennese Kaffeehaus. There, I ate my favourite Austrian dish, Kaiserschmarrn. This is basically pieces of thick, fluffy, shredded pancake covered in icing sugar and served with a plum compote. It was delicous.
This is the imperial summer palace and is an excellent place to spend a day in Vienna. The tour of the house is informative, detailing much of the history of the most well-known members of the imperial family and the grounds are a great place to have a wander. They include a maze, an orangery and the Gloriette, which has stunning views across the city. There is also a little café which makes excellent apple strudel. We returned in the evening for a concert held in the gallery, which was a really evocative location. The first half of the concert focused on Mozart and the second focused on Strauss, featuring well-known pieces by these composers. The second half featured a lot of audience participation and was great fun, making it very accessible for those of us who know little about the music of the period.