Saturday, July 13, 2024

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You are invited to 5 o’clock tea! VIENNA

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Yes, you guessed it right! We are going to Vienna! You are invited to a city that stretches the limits of your imagination with its magnificent palaces, grand boulevards, and parks. This stunning city is like a film set in Austria, with horse-drawn carriages whizzing past you as you walk, and rich, gilded, chandeliered concert halls that will transport you to a fairy tale! With more than half of Vienna being green parkland, it also promises peace.
I start my trip in the Innere Stadt, the historic heart of Vienna, feeling like I am in a dream far away from the century we live in. This area, called District 1, is a beautiful route for tourists! If you come across a parade, you are fortunate. When I look up and look at the buildings, the ornate baroque architecture amazes me because it is stunningly beautiful. I can say that this is where the heart of Vienna beats. St. Stephen’s Cathedral, soaring into the sky, with its filigree towers and chevron-tiled roof, is a masterpiece among the gothic buildings! If you are still not tired and think you can climb 343 steps, visit the south tower for a spectacular view of Vienna’s wooded area, you will never regret it.

Vienna, the city of waltzes, classical music, and Habsburg charm, is always at the top of travel itineraries. This is because it is a city where the old and the new blend seamlessly. While exploring the city, a friendly “Grüss Gott” (Good day) to the cold-looking Viennese in the back streets and cafes can lighten the mood. ☺️ Take it from me!

I make an early start to skip the queues at the entrance of my next destination, the Imperial Palace in the Hofburg. Since I made a reservation in advance to look at the glittering state apartments and crown jewels in the palace, my entrance is speedy and I recommend you to do the same. Afterward, I came across the famous Lipizzaner horses jumping and playing around the Spanish Riding School in the Hofburg and took lots of photos. I also witnessed the Sunday mass in the Burgkapelle (castle chapel) to spice up my trip.
I take the U-Bahn (Vienna subway) for a quick ride to the home of Prince Eugene of Savoy to enjoy the beautiful palaces. I am majestically greeted by Klimt masterpieces, including the famous “The Kiss”, and the exuberant baroque Belvedere Palace with its Versailles-inspired formal gardens. The 1,441-room Schönbrunn Palace, a Unesco World Heritage Site, with its magnificent pavilions and fountain-filled gardens, takes me back in time! I want to make a note here. The Mirror Room is remembered as the place where six-year-old Mozart mesmerized Empress Maria Theresa with his first public performance. A must-see!
Since the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Vienna is art, you need to choose wisely during your trip. I’ve been in a gallery for an hour and left three hours later without realizing how the time passed ?The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History Museum) with its neoclassical architecture is just the tip of the iceberg! As soon as you step inside, it is natural to feel like you are in a vortex among the artifacts.

MuseumsQuartier is a collection of art and museums, old and new, located in the Neubau district of Vienna. The monolithic galleries, cafes, and open-air courtyards with color-changing Enzo loungers are a sight to behold! The world’s largest Schieles collection is housed in the Leopold Museum and offers art lovers an extraordinary range of 20th-century art. After seeing these magnificent works of art, I leave, gliding through the artworks scattered in the large courtyards.
Ringstrasse (or ‘Ring’ as the Viennese call it), Emperor Franz Josef’s opulent 19th-century boulevard, stretches for nearly three miles around palaces, parks, grand hotels, and coffee shops. It’s a big circular boulevard. I can’t get enough of it. When I get tired and the city starts to glow in the twilight, I take tram 1 at Schwedenplatz and pass by landmarks like the Vienna State Opera. It’s great fun!

For accommodation, Vienna’s 1st district Innere Stadt makes me feel like I’m in the middle of history with its grand hotels with five-star decorations! The romance of the Hotel Imperial in a palace on the Ring with its marble decorations inspires me a lot. Hotel Sacher has an old-style opulence with its famous chocolate cakes and pastries. Do&Co Hotel, on the other hand, captures my heart with its view of St. Stephen’s Cathedral! The choice is yours!
When I move away from the center and walk towards the back streets, I encounter more social environments. “Prater” is Vienna’s famous attraction! It represents Vienna with its world-famous amusement park. Equipped with bowling alleys, cinemas, cafes, and amusement park rides, the park is one of the meeting points of Viennese today and you should include it in your list! So, I bought my ticket and immediately got on the Ferris wheel and watched the Danube River from above ? Another important point of the park is the Prater Ziehrer monument. The epically beautiful monument was built in 1960 for the composer CM Ziehrer. I take lots of photos and immortalize these moments. I prefer the 2nd, 7th, and 8th districts of the city for art and entertainment on recommendation! Take a note ?
It’s time to eat and drink! Austria’s worldly capital is number one when it comes to embracing the latest culinary trend! Venture into the neighborhoods beyond the first district and you’ll find plenty – for example, you can order and enjoy a sausage schnitzel. For traditional food, there are wood-paneled Beisln (taverns) all over Vienna, with cheap lunch specials and hearty dishes like Tafelspitz (braised beef with horseradish). I prefer to try a little bit of everything, it tastes amazing! Food markets like Naschmarkt and Karmelitermarkt are great for affordable lunches, picnics, and snacks. At a sausage stand like Bitzinger, just behind the Vienna State Opera on Albertinaplatz, a sausage with mustard or a Käsekrainer (smoked sausage stuffed with cheese) could be your lunch. Why not?

As you know, pastry is almost an art in Vienna! I understand that Maria Antoinette, the famous queen of the French who was executed, was a Viennese and that’s where the saying “If they can’t find bread, let them eat cake” came from. That’s why no trip to Vienna is complete without spending an hour in a Kaffeehaus (coffee house) chatting, eating cake, and people-watching. So, I invite you to five o’clock tea ? Please come in! My choice is Cafe Gerstner! Since it is right next to the Klimt Museum, they have a special cake called Klimttorte on their menu. The delicious chocolate cake is decorated with marzipan, which they call marzipan. As if that wasn’t enough, a small picture of one of Klimt’s famous paintings was placed on top ? Bon appetit everyone! ☺️ By the way, you can choose your cake and tea from Café Central with its marble columns, and Café Sperl with its serious atmosphere. There are so many options!
I end the day in style with a cocktail at Hotel Lamée on the first day and a spritzer on the rooftop of Das Loft at Sofitel the next day, enjoying the view. Chatting with the locals, I learned that on long summer evenings, Heuriger (wine taverns) on the hills on the outskirts of the city are preferred for sunset drinks and dinner overlooking the vineyards. Heuriger” means “wine tavern” in Viennese. It is very easy to reach Heuriger from Vienna city center to reach these small but charming, rustic places. Tram number 38 drops you off in the heart of Grinzing or tram number 60 to Rodaun takes you to the smaller local Heuriger, a ten-minute walk away.
You can also take the super cute and cuddly ‘Vienna Heurigen Express’, which starts from Kahlenberg and runs on Saturdays to take you between the Heurigers lined up along the hillside.

Time to shop! In the “Goldenes Quartier” in the center of the city, you have the chance to find both luxury brands and discounted products at the Vivienne Westwood Outlet. If you are interested in watches and jewelry, I recommend two brands unique to Vienna; Bucherer and Wagner! If you want to buy souvenirs, The Vienna store is the right address! When you go to neighborhoods like the 7th district, Neubau, or Freihausviertel near Naschmarkt, full of interesting shops, galleries, and boho cafes, you see a much more relaxed side of the city. You can find valuable antiques at the flea market in Naschmarkt. If you are interested in handmade products, you will find jewelry, ceramic objects, and wood and glass products at the Handicraft Market in Spittelberg in the 7th district! Enjoy your shopping!

One of the things you should know before you go is that Vienna is very hot in summer and very cold in winter with snow. So, if possible, plan your trip for Spring and avoid visiting during the holidays to avoid the crowds. Spring can be a wonderful time to visit when the parks are in bloom, while fall brings golden days and Sturm (young wine) to Vienna’s vineyards and Heurigen (wine taverns). Summer brings parties, concerts, dance festivals, and Schanigärten (sidewalk cafés). This culminates in September’s Donauinselfest when the world’s largest free outdoor music festival rocks the Danube. Visit in December for the Christmas markets, which have been on holiday itineraries lately, and in January and February for the balls in full swing. Depends on what you are looking for ?
Finally, I would like to give you some useful information. Thanks to the Wiener Linien public transportation network, exploring Vienna is easy and enjoyable! Buy tickets online or at the ticket offices and don’t forget to validate them when boarding! Big hotels and restaurants accept card payments, but for bars and cafes, I recommend having cash on hand. My last observation is that Viennese people don’t like small talk and they look serious, but as I mentioned at the beginning of my article, a sincere greeting “Grüss Gott” (Good day) when entering a place will warm the atmosphere! ☺️ You can easily say “Hallo” (Hello) to people you find friendly. Alternatively, you can say “Servas” (the Viennese form of “Servus”) to greet people in a friendly atmosphere.
I wish our paths cross on colorful routes,
May the sunshine be in your heart forever,
See you in the blues,
Banu Demir
Editor & Poet
Instagram: bluevoyage_blueroute

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