photo OP: VIENNA by day

Vienna by day is quite a bit different than by night. The sharp contrasts created by the dark night and the bright lights were gone, but the drama remained through the details and lines of the architecture, the shimmering metals, and robust city planning. We used the two-day Vienna Pass, which I highly recommend. It felt like a large investment at first, but it includes a hop-on hop-off bus situation and grants access to so many valuable attractions (and fast track entry to many). Once we bought our pass, all we paid for was food, the occasional uber, and an audio guide here and there.

So much art. So many of my favorite artists. Decorative arts, painting, the gamut-- an art history museum. This is a building created to display art exclusively, putting the collections of the royal Habsburgs on show. The famous Cellini Salt cellar. Caravaggio’s David Beheading Goliath. Titian paintings, even a portrait or two I used for an HA 60 paper. Rembrandt and Rubens galore. My art history loving self was in heaven.

More art, but this museum offered something a little different. Here I discovered an artist, Olga Wessinger Florian, that I must look into and share with my art history students. Saw some Klimt, one of Austria’s most famous artists. Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Anton Romako, names on my periphery, but have been shown and seen in a new light.

Let not the lavishness only be for life, but in death be extra, too. This is the crypt for the Habsburg monarchs and important people of the line.

More art. More favorite artists. There was an Impressionist exhibit on display, showing some of the big guns, which drew me to the museum. But the Albertina has much more to offer. I loved all the art, obviously, but to me what was a very special treat was the furnished staterooms. The ornate details and the pure lavishness of the lifestyle expressed through decor was fascinating. Each room held hidden gems, like Albrecht Durer’s The Hare and other vivid illustrations, some of Rubens and Michelangelo’s sketches, and Klimt works. 

I felt like Belle when the Beast gave her his library, or when Ariel was singing amongst her goodies in her treasure trove. Architecture stunning. Collection vast and impressive. Maps, books, globes-- a nerd’s paradise.

I felt my heart skip a beat. Breathing became difficult and my heart beat more rapidly. I had a physical reaction to this space like I hadn’t had in a while. I was moved and awestruck and humbled. I was stunned with the white, the pointed arches, the simplicity (to a certain extent)-- I felt a power within this church.

We walked through history with the audio guide glued to our ears. We danced with arabesques in Baroque and Rococo. We breathed in textiles of the rich and famed, like heavy window dressings matching the upholstery of the elegant chairs and wall fixings, and we slowly dragged our feet on parquet flooring. Yes, sumptuousness, lavishness, ornateness-- it is a palace. But, no photos please. The grounds and gardens were expansive, but felt a little weepy under the oppressive sun and stifling heat. But the shapes, geometry, and dots of fresh colors were the illusions of grandeur.

Belvedere Palace 

And more art. But, we came for Klimt’s The Kiss. The juxtaposition of Klimt portraiture made the evolution of style tangible and concrete. Here, my husband tested my knowledge and we engaged deeply in visual evidence of artistic movements through the varying works of the museum’s collection.

I definitely wish we had more time there, as we went on a whim 45 minutes before closing and just over two hours before our train left. The building is one of the most beautiful to me in Vienna-- extravagant and elaborate, but red and domed. There is an abundance of information, art, and artifact in this museum. It is a great visit for history (all kinds of history) appreciators. 

More photos of the  highlights on the gram!


memorable MEALS: Restaurant Vestibül

After running around Vienna, soaking in all the sites we could see via Vienna Pass and a trusty hop-on hop-off bus tour, we worked up an appetite and were looking for a restaurant that would slow us down after a busy day. 

Restaurant Vestibül did just the trick-- we took our time, and we were given time. We both ordered fixed menus-- I did the standard six-course menu, while my husband did the four-course chef menu that changes daily.  Here is what we ate.

amuse bouche

Course 1 (him): Ceviche of Char with avocado and pomegranate
Course 1 (her): Artichoke Salad with Stracchino and salt lemon
Course 2 (her): Filet of Brook Trout with roasted salad hearts, peas, and galangal

Course 3 (her): Viennese Escargots on tomato tartar

Course 2 (him): Salmon Trout Croquettes with lobster ragout and zucchini
Course 4 (her): Lobster with creamy Cabbage
a signature dish

Course 3 (him): Tafelspitz of Veal with black risotto, and fermented Chinese cabbage

Course 5 (her): BBQ Roast of Angus Beef with fermented chicory and potato rosemary gratin

Course 4 (him): Tiramisu with coffee ice cream

Course 6 (her): Hazelnut and Apricot
Our meals comprised of fresh ingredients that made several appearances throughout our meal, along with staple dishes of the restaurant and seasonal variations. There was play with texture and temperature, surprising combinations and rich layers.

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photo OP: VIENNA by night

We took the train from Prague to Vienna, Austria. We got to Vienna at around 5:30 hungry to hit the ground running, but also hungry. We ate a quick dinner and just walked, my husband’s idea of a tour. We often stopped to look up and admire the architecture and statues, that later in our walk, were lit up, emphasizing drama and grandeur. 

Vienna is beautiful, but there felt to be a repetition of said beauty. A beautiful cookie cutter was created, and much of it felt recreated. Grand boulevards and imposing architecture-- Gothic, Baroque, Neo Gothic, Neo Baroque, Art Nouveau-- repeated lines and curves. After a while everything begins to be familiar and awe becomes mechanical. It is an attractive city, but felt oddly impersonal to me. I couldn't help but wonder what the city would feel like by day.

See more about Vienna (by day, soon!), but follow along on instagram