After not feeling the love at “The Love Fest”, I decided it was time for some coffee and sustenance. Vienna is famous for its coffee and its historic cafes. I happen to love coffee and historic cafes, or any cafes that serve good coffee for that matter. The charming concierge at the hotel had insisted I go to Cafe Sperl and although I didn’t care for the Love Festival, I decided to give this recommendation a chance.
Cafe Sperl is close enough to the Ringstrasse to be a nice stroll, but far enough to discourage many tourists. When I arrived, I was instantly struck by the beauty of the place and the extensive coffee menu. Starbucks has nothing on this place!
Since, my German is marginal and it would be a waste to simply get coffee with milk (Almost the complete extent of my German lexicon), I just randomly pointed at two coffee drinks and this is what I got:
Coffee Close Up
The coffee was good, but I was even more thrilled that this place had food. And not just any ol’ cafe food. This food was delucious! Yes, even better than delicious. The mushroom risotto pictured below was (and I say this with all caution and surprise and honesty) WAAAAAAAY better than any of the several risottos I had in Venice on the three previous days of this European trip. The risotto was the star, but the spatzle was solid also. Don’t sleep on Cafe Sperl for a nice lunch.
After filling my belly, it was time to get cultured. Not sure if that’s possible, but I figured looking at some of Klimt’s most famous paintings in a palace couldn’t be too painful. Palaces are cool after all, although they always make me want to sneak into some secret room and hope security won’t find me and see how long I could live in there. Maybe, we all feel that way. Anyhow, the Belvedere Palace was a short tram ride away. So off I went.
Seeing Klimt’s “Kiss” in person was cool and it’s interesting to see how much gold paint was on that thing, but I found his partially completed paintings to be more fascinating. The other exhibit that I really enjoyed was Franz Xaver Messerschmidt’s collection of sculptures, named “Character Heads.” I found them to be both intense and playful.Â Have a look and tell me what you think.
Of course, while I was in The Belvedere Palace I was struck by an immense hunger that could only be quenched by the swift acquisition and consumption of local street food. Apparently, in downtown Vienna, one need walk only a few hundred meters in any direction to find a wiener stand. Wien being the Austrian name for Vienna and wieners being, well, you know. I opted for the famous kasekrainer, a pork sausage flavored with garlic and pepper and filled with hot, melty cheesy goodness. After one bite, I understood instantly why this ubiquitous creation is known as a popular post-drinking snack.
Even, my traveling companion, who’s not inclined to consuming meat, could not resist its pure deliciousness.
After this wonderful snack and a quick trip back to the hotel for a short nap and/or to check up on my magical bottle of self-replenishing scotch (see Vienna Pt.1), it was high time to go to the amusement park. Prater Park to be exact, as they have a Ferris Wheel and I am a huge fan of aforementioned Ferris Wheels, having sampled them across the world.
Prater Park had that wonderful carnival atmosphere and many quirky rides including the gigantic ferris wheel thing, the creepy and pretty run-down scary-monster ride and the lovely and beautiful Ferris Wheel. I enjoyed them all, well except for the giant rail car ferris wheel thing which I have no desire to go in, yes, that includes the London Eye. I know, that sounds like a contradiction, but truly I only enjoy the smaller old school Ferris Wheels, not the ones where you have to hang out with 20 strangers in a train compartment for 30 minutes after waiting in a line for an hour. No I’ll take the small, open Ferris Wheel that feels like it just might fall apart at any moment. That’s the one I like.
On my final morning in Vienna, I caught a cab to the airport and in my typical American way asked the driver how he was doing that morning. He seemed slightly taken aback by my friendly question, but after answering that he was doing well, he asked me the same. I cheerily answered that I was doing great, as that’s a pretty standard American answer and I was excited to be off to Amsterdam that morning. I found his response to my statement to be poignant. He said “I should think you’d be sad to be leaving our beautiful city.” Indeed, I was.
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