Our first trip in Europe from Barcelona was to Vienna to track down some family history and take advantage of the what the city has to offer. This was our second visit to Vienna and this time around we had more experience and a more detailed plan of what to see, eat and drink.
Art & History
We started our day heading over to Belvedere Place to see their extensive Gustav Klimt collection including The Kiss and Judith and the Head of Holofernes. The Belvedere Place served as the residence of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand up until his assassination in 1914 leading to the outbreak of First World War.
The Belvedere collection also included a Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Jacques-Louis David. There are five versions of this painting, two at Versailles (which I think we saw back in 2019). The original painting was commissioned by Napoleon’s brother, Joseph, whom he installed as the King of Spain. After abdicating the Spanish throne Joseph Bonaparte took his painting with him into exile… to New Jersey. The painting had been handed down through his descendants until 1949. The Bonapartes of New Jersey. You can’t make this up.
We happened across a set of Stolperstein or Stumble Stones on our way to grab some beers at Mel’s Dinner in the First District. The stones are placed at the last place of residency to commemorate a victim of the Nazis at their last known residence. As of December 2019, 75,000 Stolpersteine have been laid, making the Stolpersteine project the world’s largest decentralized memorial.
On our way to another beer bar we came across a former German Flak Tower that now serves as an aquarium and rooftop bar. These were massive concrete gun towers with bunkers in the lower levels. The idea was to build these around the city to defend against Allied bombing raids. So much concrete was used in their construction that it’s too costly to tear down.
Food & Drink
One of my priorities while in Vienna was to hit up a Würstelständen or Sausage Stand. These sausage stands were created during the First World War to provide jobs for injured soldiers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Bitzinger near the Albertina Museum did not disappoint.
Our first meal in was to get Schnitzel which somehow we missed back in 2006 so we headed to Figlmüller after checking into our hotel. Definitely a tourist vibe but also the largest schnitzel I’ve ever seen and worth the experience. From there we headed over to 1516 Beer Company which randomly has their own HopDevil on draft based off the recipe from Victory Brewing. I believe the brewer from there gave them the recipe and the licensed to brew it onsite.
The following day, we spent the better part of the evening at Miranda, which is a small cocktail bar. It was Champaign Monday so all champaign based cocktails were $10. Just down the hill from Miranda was Kaiserwalzer 2.0 which is an old school tavern with great outdoor seating and more traditional Viennese food.
The flight from Barcelona was a little more than 2 hours. The express train from the Vienna airport put us in the center of the city within 15 minutes. We purchased a 72 hour transit pass and we used it extensively to get around the city; this included the U-Bahn (subway), S-Bahn (local train), Straßenbahn (tram) and Autobus (bus). All of the forms of transportation there were easy to use, clean and efficient. The city of Vienna is divided into 23 districts, each address has a postal code signifying which district it is in. This can be helpful in trying to get some geographical context of what locations are near each other.
Overall we had a great time. As cities goes Vienna is very easy to get around, the food was good and everything was really clean.