What a wonderful day in Vienna we had! I wish we could have stayed longer (or arrived earlier as planned) but we were able to pack in a lot of great sights into one day and even had time to enjoy the amazing Christmas market. Since we only had a day we decided to follow Rick Steves walking tour that connected the 3 main sights in Vienna, the Opera, St Stephen's Cathedral and the Hofburg Palace. Vienna is a much larger city then I had expected. It was very modern and clean with an amazing public transporation system.
Almost immediately after getting off the metro in the city center we were both jumping up and down with excitement as we had spotted a Starbucks!! I do apologize to the Italians, as they have great espresso but there is just something about a delicious gingerbread latte during winter J
Our walk began at the Opera, which was a beautiful old building, we inquired about the performance that night but they were already sold out. Along they outside of the Opera they have a sort of walk of fame with star plaques with famous composers, singers, musicians and conductors. From the Opera we visited the famous Café Sacher. It is home to 'the worlds classiest' chocolate cake. Franz Sacher, chef to the Prince of Metternich, invented it in 1832. It is a delicious chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam and covered in dark chocolate icing. We enjoyed our cake with a wonderful glass of prosecco, we felt like royalty. From there we walked to the Albertinaplatz (well we walked the wrong direction but eventually ended up there). This square is home to the Monument Against War and Fascism. There are 4 sculptures that I will describe with the pictures. We then wandered up Kārntner Strasse, which is a busy pedestrian street with modern and expensive stores (lots of window shopping). At the end of that street is where we were awestruck by St Stephen's Cathedral. It is a giant gothic church with frilly spirals reaching towards the heavens. As gorgeous as the outside is the interior is even more spectacular. Get ready for lots of pictures of that! After spending quite awhile in the church we headed down Graben Street, another busy pedestrian thoroughfare packed with historic statues and sculptures. Just off Graben is St Peter's Church, which was built as a thank-you to the city for survivng the bubonic plague. The outside of the church was pretty plain so we were debating on even going in but thank goodness we did. It was magnificent and just as we were walking in we heard an organ begin to play followed by a full orchestra. It was a magical moment. We could only see the violin bows going up and down as they played because they were up in loft where the organ pipes are in the back of the church. After sitting and enjoying the music we made it to Michaelerplatz, the square dominated by the Hofburg palace. This is where the Hofsburg emperors lived, unfortunately we did not have time to go into the museums, but next time! After walking through the palace gates we entered out the back and our breaths were literally taken away when we spotted the city hall in the distance. It looked like a huge fairytale castle and we knew we had to get there. We started trekking across the park towards the magical building, emerging on the other side when again our breaths were taken away as we had stumbled onto the Christkindlmarkt! It was set up directly in front of the City Hall. The market was as crowded as the statefair but packed with old fashioned traditional Christmas stands! Each towering tree were decorated with different themed Christmas lights, they had huge heart lights hanging from one, snowman from another and then my favorite, a choo-choo train themed lite tree. After going camera crazy we took a break and enjoyed a mug of the traditional orangen puncsh. Not sure exactly what was in it but it was warm and delicious! J After our fill of Christmas we headed back to the metro to go to the hotel, along the way stopping at another out of the way Rick Steves recommendations for dinner. It seemed like a very traditional little restaurants with lots of locals. There were wooden tables and benches and they were out of every type of beer except the pilsner, and it was only 6 o'clock! I ordered the bratwurst with fried potato ball and sauerkraut. I know this is out of character for me but….when in Vienna! It came out and was practically just a plate of sauerkraut and very delicious. Sarah, being a connoisseur of sauerkraut said it was the best she's ever had! After getting a little tipsy from our one large bier we headed back to our hotel in the suburbs. It was a very successful and wonderful day! The next day we were on our way to Prague, the train ride was about 5 hours and went off without a hitch! More to come on Prague later…..
Love and Miss you!