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Friday, June 30, 2017

Vienna, Austria

Arrival at the Bristol hotel in Vienna was easy.
We chose our own hotel instead of the VBT hotel for a lower rate.  It was located adjacent to the Vienna opera house and near all museums.  The hotel room was charming and we felt like we were walking into a golden era of Viennese culture.

Opulence and comfort was welcomed after several days of cycling.  A 1 mile walk to the Belvedere palace was first on our agenda.

 This palace, which is now a museum of art is worth a visit and contains the worlds largest collection of Gustav Klimt.

It was educational to view the transition of his art from lovely realistic portraits to impressionistic scenery and finally to the abstract portraits for which he is famous, as seen in the "Woman in Gold."  View the palace rooms here as well, most rooms have an image of how it looks when a functioning palace.
When in the upper levels of the museums look out of the windows for a spectacular view of Vienna.

Rx tip: Whenever visiting a city or museum look for free podcast tours.  Often you can find the audio guide available for download before you arrive.

Off to listen to Rick Steves' walking tour of the city to orient us.

This was excellent and led us to Demels which I highly recommend for coffee and sweets.  The prices are reasonable and the service is friendly.   Take a look in the back for the bakers in action.  Their products make good gifts.  Try to get aside walk seat, but there are plenty of tables inside on multiple levels.

J meil is another good place to get coffee and sweets.  It is located a block away from Demel and is an upscale grocer.

You can purchase sweets for consumption or take home.  They have many beautiful marzipan products.  Also consider other unique gifts, like Viennese mustards, coffee or sauces.  This is an excellent place to find them and the grocery bags themselves are a worthy gift bag themselves.

Dinner at our friends hotel, hotel Stefanie, was lovely.

It is one of the oldest hotels in Vienna.  We sat in the courtyard which was splendid.  Cool air and quiet surroundings are a stark contrast to the busy Vienna streets.  Beer and wine were excellent but Mixed drinks were not very good here.  Our dinners were telenspitz (boiled beef) which is like a pot roast prime rib.  It is served with horseradish, apple sauce and sour cream with chives. Also Hungarian goulash was good here. Dinner was around 50 euro.

A visit to the imperial jewels was next.  This is lovely and highly recommended.

Consider an audio guide here because much of the displays are in German.  The Hapsburg history can be very confusing so you may want to familiarize yourself with some of the names before you go.  Take time to look at the fine details of the displays. Photos without flash are allowed and I recommend taking them because you can see more detail in photos often then in the dimly lit rooms.  The photos are gorgeous.

Lunch at Graben30 was nice.

People watching on the square was fun.  We had a panini and hamburger with potato wedges.  Two .2l beers were tasty.  These are what Vienna locals consider a quick beer. Tap water is available everywhere in Vienna.  Just ask. 

Coffee at spenando was to follow.  Iced coffee was my norm in Vienna due to the heat we encountered.  Coffee for two in the tourist areas for two is about 8-10 euros.

Next the imperial porcelain collection, Sisi museum and imperial apartments.  Here we downloaded podcasts and utilized them throughout.  The Sisi museum is a bit crowed but it is a nice presentation of the princess Diana-like figure who seemed perpetually tormented.  The apartments were notably sparse reflecting the tastes of Franz Joseph.    This visit gave an excellent perspective of the regal couple.  Photos were not allowed in the Sisi museum or imperial apartments.

Dinner at the butchery was pleasant and full of opera goers surprisingly.

We had two delicious and different gin and tonics.  They have near 30 varieties of gins and several varieties of tonics.  We had vegetarian and chicken burgers.  Each was delicious and our meal was 50 euros.  We walked after dinner as there was a big event for the life ball a block away.  Many handsome people were in attendance, but I did not recognize any American celebrities.

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