Postcards From Vienna
Arriving in Vienna, it was a little more characteristically subdued after Paris. If I had to choose one word to describe Vienna it would be “civilized”.
This year Vienna commemorates four of its most important contributors who ironically all died 100 years ago: Gustav Klimt, founder of the Art Nouveau movement, Egon Schiele, who brought expressionism to Vienna, Otto Wagner, famed architect, and Koloman Moser graphic designer. All had a lasting impact on Vienna in the years around 1900. Titled “Beauty and the Abyss”, there will be numerous exhibitions throughout this year celebrating their accomplishments.While Hotel Sacher remains one of the most luxurious hotels in the world, they don't rest on their laurels. The Sacher continues to enhance their product, and I had the opportunity to tour their latest addition; the Philharmoniker Suite. In a word: stunning. The suite includes two master bedrooms, two master bathrooms, separate guest restroom, two additional smaller salons, a pantry as well as a large living salon with balcony and historical fire place. In the process of restoring the suite, they discovered hidden medallions above the light fixtures, detailed crown molding, and beneath the carpet, intricately designed parquet floors that have been lovingly restored.
Also new is Sacher Eck, appropriately named as it's just around the corner facing the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse. It's bright and airy with cozy tables to enjoy one's coffee or tea, and of course...torte. Climbing the stairs to the upper level, you'll see an array of pictures of one of the original owners, Anna Sacher; all portrayed in various stages of her unconventional life (cigar smoking and accompanied by her French bulldogs). There are over 50 ancient coffee grinders interspersed throughout the cafe, which adds a whimsical touch. This was late January in the afternoon, and I couldn't help but notice that every table was taken.
The 5-star trendy Das Triest is adding 49 more rooms as well as 2 suites. An Italian style bistro will be opened on the first level along with patio dining. Within the hotel, a culinary shop will open late spring with typical Italian antipasti and food products, such as olive oil, cheeses, balsamic vinegar, pestos, pastas, wines, and the largest selection of grappa in Vienna. Their award winning Collio, remains one of Vienna's top restaurants focusing on Northern Italian cuisine. Sometimes the Triest overlooked by visitors, as its location is just outside the Ring (a 5 minute walk). And it's not your traditional Viennese architecture, as it was once the main stable for the postal route to Trieste. However while hip and stylish, the Triest remains true to traditional Viennese attentiveness and hospitality. And its trendy décor (a Sir Terrence Conran designed hotel) appeals to musicians and screen stars as it affords a little more discreetness. Their legendary Silver Bar, manned by star mixer Keita, will open during construction. And you never know who you will meet at this cozy bar. I have personally run into (literally) the late Larry Hagman, Matt LeBlanc and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits.
I had the opportunity to try 2 new restaurants (at least new for me). Located conveniently in the 1st district, the Gasthaus Rheinthaler offers traditional Viennese. For a little more privacy, be like a local and ask for a table in the back room (you will pass through the kitchen to get there) And as I unfortunately discovered, no credit cards are accepted.
Just outside the 1st district is Stadtwirt near Wien Mitte (Cat Airport Train). Their menu also highlights local cuisine, but they also had several seafood dishes to select. It's reasonably priced and English menus are available for those Deutsch challenged. In any event, I didn't find any Americans dining on either of my 2 visits.
Also paid a visit to my favorite (and the oldest ) coffehouse, Frauenhuber. Just off the pedestrian Kärntnerstrasse on Himmelfortgasse, it has retained its traditional charm and in my humble opinion, serves the best apfelstrudel in Vienna. On the subject of food, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver opened “Jamie's Italian” in December at Vienna Airport. The inventive cuisine of the British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver will be available to travelers in the passenger area of Terminal 3. They offer a variety of Mediterranean dishes in a relaxed atmosphere. It's a nice alternative to the fast food outlets, and perusing the menu, not a bad place to be stuck if your flight is delayed.
Vienna by the numbers:
|100+||The number of museums available to visit|
|24||Paintings by Gustav Klimt, including “The Kiss” in Upper Belvedere|
|300||The number of performances at the State Opera every year|
|450||Number of balls held every year with most available to the public|
|10||Number of Michelin starred restaurants|
|400||Variety of roses grown in the Volksgarten (it's on the Ring)|
|149||Number of Hapsburgs buried in the Church of the Capuchin Friars (1st district)|