Back in a Big City

Salzburg may have been the second largest city in Austria but the city itself felt very small and quaint. And even though Munich was bustling with thousands and thousands of people, we were still able to walk everywhere.  However upon arriving in Vienna, the big city feel was very apparent in one of Europe's 10 largest cities.

In the city center of Vienna.
It was also very clear that the 46 hours we had in Vienna were not going to be nearly enough time to explore everything the city has to offer.  However, given our short time, we were able to hit on the two things that Vienna boasts, architecture and food.  Everyone who has been to Vienna has always spoken about the magnificent and dominating buildings so this I knew.  However, I think all of us were surprised in how awesome the food was.  

Beef Goulash at a Viennese cafe. 

Some of the great architecture Vienna had to offer. 

There are many parts of Vienna that were very walkable.  However, to get from one area of town to the next you need either to take a cab or metro.  Given that the metro is extremely easy to use and basically free, taking it was a no brainer.  But before we began exploring the city, we were all starving and conveniently  enough the Naschmarkt was right across from our hotel.  The daily market is open from 6 - 6 and is about a half mile long filled with little stands selling everything from meats,cheeses and fruit to stuffed peppers, spices and falafel.  It was very clear that Vienna had a bit of a Turkish/Middle Eastern influence as the Naschmarkt some what felt like a bazzar you might find in Dubai or Turkey.   The market not only has stands but a number of cafes and restaurants where we decided to dine on Beef Goulash, a traditional Viennese dish.

Food at the Naschmarkt. 

During our first day, we explored much of the architecture that everyone speaks about.  There is a ring that goes around central Vienna and your best bet is to just walk around it and start exploring.  Around every turn felt to be some grand structure that was built by a King.  Of course most of the buildings were built by the Habsburg family who ruled for about six centuries.  In my opinion, the two most impressive buildings were the Imperial Palace and the Opera where both Beethoven and Mozart put on a number of performances. Yet the entire surrounding area has a number of sights and you will need more than a few hours to take it all in.

Famous opera house in Vienna. 

For our second day, we started out with some donor kebab and noodle schwarma boxes in the Naschmarkt...delicious.  We then headed south to the south-west tip of Vienna to the Schloss Schonbrunn, a magnificent palace that was built by, you guessed it, the Habsburgs.  Schloss Schonbrunn was modeled after Versailles and is also a Unesco World Heritage Site.  Of the 1,441 rooms in the palace, we took an audio tour of 22.  The rooms were of course impressive but the gardens and fountains in the back that seem to go on forever and ever really caught our eye.

Overlooking the gardens at Schloss Schonbrunn. 

After spending a few hours at Schonbrunn, we headed towards Vienna's heart, Stephansplatz. The electric city center is filled with cafe's, brand name stores and horse and buggies waiting to whisk tourists away.  We stopped for a quick cappuccino and some traditional Viennese pastries.  The Sacher Torte is the most popular, a dark chocolate cake with apricot jam.  No visit to Stephansplatz is complete without a visit to Stephansdom, the 12th century church that highlights Vienna's skyline.

Cappuccino and a few pieces of cake in the Stephansplatz.

The Stephansdom. 

To end our last night in Vienna and in Austria we headed to Figlmuller, a little Beisl (small tavern), that was the birthplace of schnitzels.  It is located only a few blocks from the Stephansplatz and is tucked away in a very narrow alley way.  (The place is so popular they actually have two locations, both within a block of each other).  No matter which location you head to, there is no need to look at the menu, you will be getting the schnitzel.  However, plan on bringing some home, the schnitzel is so big, it is hanging off all ends of the plate.  Also be sure to get a glass of the house wine as it comes directly from the owner's vineyard.

If you can find a bigger schnitzel than this let me know. 

Our time in Austria was now over but I know I will be back.  There were still so many things I was unable to do such as see the snow caped alps or drink wine on the Danube.  We were now off to our last stop as a group together, Prague.

In front of a Habsburg palace. 
More photos of Vienna: 

The once palace is now a library...which you need access too. 

The museum of fine arts that was used to house the art
collection of the Habsburgs. 

The entrance to the library. 

Gardens and parks are all over the city of Vienna. 

Ground level of the Schloss Schonbrunn.

Famed Apple Strudel. 

You can see the Stephansdom is right in the middle of a
bustling square. 

Fresh fruit at the Naschmarkt.


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