13.06.2009 - 16.06.2009
Wombats in Wien
There may not be any kangaroos in Austria, but there is definately Wombats - the name of our hostel in vienna. Unsurprisingly, it was home to a fair few Aussies, and mostly (seemingly) under the age of 20. It was situated conveniently near the main train station, and with wireless access, a kitchen, laundry, a cheap all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast, and really friendly helpful staff, it was a good base for exploring the town.
It had been a long time, and on our first evening, we came across a nearby restaurant called 'Yellow' - serving 'Asiatische" food! Two plates of sushi, complete with hoy sin sauce, sweet chilli, all these flavours you take for granted back home.. ah yes!
Buoyed by our taste of Asia, We also had an asian buffet at a restaurant called 'Bamboo' on Neubaugasse, a hip and slightly grungy part of town, where they prepare your stir fry with ingredients and sauces per choice. We had had our fix.
The hostel was a stones throw from the main shopping drag on Mariahilferstrasse, and we strolled through the mall down to the Naschmarkt - a flea market that was particularly busy on the Saturday. Colours and smells of Mediterranean and middle-eastern inspired produce, olives, wasabi peanuts, cheeses, felaffel.
In the evening, we walked around Old Town between the imposing St Stephen's cathedral and the world famous vienna Opera House. Funnily, there was a big screen erected on one side of the building, and a sizeable crowd had brought along picnics, chairs and blankets to watch from the square outside!
Next door to the Opera is Sacher Eck - the home of the original 'Sacher Torte'. "Expensive, but a must do" proclaimed our guide book, so in we went. The torte is a melange of chocolate sponge cake and apricot jam, covered by hard dark chocolate, and became so famous that the Sacher Eck had to fight for the right to call it's version the "original". Accompanied by a milky coffee and an average hot chocolate - neither of us were particularly impressed.
A palace in Vienna which was the summer home to Sisi (whoever that is!) - did justice to the term 'ABC', or "another bloody castle". Well, it was more of a palace, but you get the drift. We walked around the massive manicured gardens which also houses a zoo and a large hedge maze, and climbed a hill from which a large fountain of triton overlooks the grounds.
An absolute Heuringer
Austria is famous for it's atmospheric suburban 'Heuringer' wine taverns, which serve inexpensive wine (often home brew), along with fresh and homely food. Sunday evening brought us to Grinzing - a northern suburb known for it's array of Heuringer along it's heritage listed streets. The atmosphere was fun, the musicians play folk music, they and the waiters wearing traditional costume. Families danced and kids played in the sandpit, at one stage a congo line formed (don't know if that's normal!). We thought the wine was less than average, but it was a fun evening nonetheless.
I know what you're thinking - everything we did in Vienna was centred around food! Sad (well maybe not) but true, Vienna is a bit of a foodie heaven - and we couldn't leave Vienna without devouring a Wiener Schnitzel. Or two, as was served on our plates at Schnitzelwirt Schmidt!
Built up an appetite walking through 'Old Town', from Schwedenplatz to Stephansplatz, through the Habsburg's Imperial palace and gardens, and into the Museums quartier.
The final evening in vienna was particularly special, as we dressed up a little (as best we could with limited wardrobe!) and headed to the Opera house to queue for standing room tickets.
I must say the concept of standing room confused me somewhat - were we to be standing in isles? Or jostling with elbows at the front of the room, mosh-pit style?
Well, we found the queue for standing tickets and waiting in line, and were soon confronted with the choice of Parterresteheplatz for 4 Euro a pop, or the Balconstehplatz for 3 Euro. Feeling thrifty, we went for the Parterre!. We didn't regret it - marched into the standing area, we were right in the middle of the theatre at ground level! Rails separated the standing rows, and we were told to 'reserve' our place by placing something around this rail - it was all so organised.
The show was a ballet of 'Anna Karanina' - which we later found out was a famous play by the Russian Leo Tolstoy. The opera house itself was spectacular, and show captivating, and despite intentions to leave early and sore feet from standing a few hours - we stayed till the end to applaud encore after encore with the rest of the audience.