Vienna, Austria

We went to Vienna for the masked ball (below) but there was so much more to Vienna.   I didn’t realize just how eventful this trip was until writing this post

The first thing we did upon arrival in Vienna was head to the city center with Kate and Brian to find a cafe.  We ended up finding one of the best Cafes in Vienna!  Cafe Hawelka was a popular meeting point for writers and artists after the war.  Cafe interior doesn’t seem to have changed since then.  Old wooden coat racks frame the entrance and a large table with a choice of news papers is the cafe centerpiece.  The staff also doesn’t seem to have changed much.  Older gentlemen dressed in tuxedos and surly demeanor, served up strong coffee and good food.

It was here where we hatched the idea to hire a horse-drawn carriage for the ball after watching at least a dozen horse-drawn carriages pass in front of the cafe.

Later, we toured the city center a bit and the Hofburg Palace, where the ball would be held.  Here we saw more silverware, fine china and serving ware than I think any of us had ever seen in one place.  The palace was pretty incredible even if the former royal occupants were a little crazy…. or a lot crazy.

This is us in front of the Palace and a ruin site discovered beneath the palace.

And, because we have such great friends, who are super supportive of my nutrition choices and food allergies, we finished off the night with an excellent gluten-free, vegetarian meal at Wrenkh, a vegetarian restaurant with an amazing beet soup.  If you are a vegetarian visiting Vienna, we highly recommend this place!

We started the next day with a Jazz brunch at Cafe Schwarzenberg.  Every Sunday really should start with a jazz brunch.

One of the highlights of the trip was the Spanish Riding School.  The horses and riders are incredible to say the least but to be able to see these famous horses in the original riding school where they performed for kings and queens was amazing.  To get a seat, people reserve seats months in advance.  So standing room only was the only option and while the show is a bit long for standing, it was well worth it.  Once the show started, we were so in awe of the skill of the horses and riders that we forgot about standing and just watched in amazement.

After the show, we happened to find Cafe Demel, it looked like a typical Viennese cafe.  It was better than we expected with an extensive coffee menu, complete with various deliciously spiked coffee.  We texted Shane and Si, who happened to be near by and they met us for a great lunch, excellent coffee and even better conversation.

The unexpected happiness at cafe Demel came when Ryan found this almond cake below.  It was gluten free and still moist and perfectly sweet.

Plied with plenty of coffee, we decided to go with Shane and Si to Schonbrunn Palace, which was the summer home of the monarchy.  The picture below is the room in the palace where Mozart first performed for the Queen when he was just six years old.

If this wasn’t enough, next we met up with Kate and Brian for tapas and Jazz at the Porgy & Bess Theater.   The tapas was yummy and the jazz was passionate.  It was contemporary, which can get kind of crazy (and it did at times) but the musicians were talented and this was definitely a fun, unique way to spend an evening in Vienna.  We experienced the more traditional, classical music of Vienna throughout the rest of the weekend.

We finished off the night with a few amazing cocktails and chatting with the rest of the gang in the hotel lobby.  Writing this post and thinking back to that weekend, the whole thing seems pretty surreal and this was just the first two days.  There was much more to come!

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