SHOPPING in Vienna:
Shanti Yoga Store
Of course, this is not all about yoga mats, yoga bags and cushions. It's interesting for all who look for relaxation everywhere, enjoying cool and comfortable fashion. This doesn't have to be hidden in your gym bag, but can be worn on the streets, too. The manager Birgit Kohl sells beautiful pieces by labels from the American scene, for example colourful shirts with brilliantly coloured Buddha and Chakra appliqués by Lily Lotus. Her advice is great, and you can touch, try and compare everything.
The name says it all: Sandra Haischberger truly produces the finest of the fine things out of porcelain in her studio. Delicate white is adorned with birds and insects, English lace patterns from the Tudor period are kissed back to life and fragile vases are waiting for flowers to be put in. On top of that many lamps, cups and bowls, everything made in extremely limited editions, and thus really something special. The surprise: Haischberger's art is still affordable.
Anne Morel was born in France. With shoes on her feet, as she claims herself. Whether or not that's true, the passion for fascinating footwear remained and was imported to Vienna with a tad of Parisian flair. The good thing about this shop: High heels are out. This is because Anne Morel thinks ahead, and only when a woman stands firmly on the ground can she look good. This is why there are ravishing shoes with road grip, in any style, from ultrafashionable to sporty elegant. Oftcourse, the whole selection is from cutting edge French labels such as Maloles and Pataugas.
EAT in Vienna:
It is rumoured that not even in Italy you can get a pizza so wonderful like the one that comes out of the oven at Maria's Pizzeria. Up until 8 p.m. the eatery belongs to the children, who watch intently what the pizza baker is doing. Starting at 9 p.m. the adults take over, and only those with reservations. The young owner has lived in Naples. Upon her return she just imported a piece of Italy to Vienna, in a literal sense: The flour and tomato sauce come directly from bella Italia, the rest from local farmers. For dessert there's Panna Cotta in all variations imaginable as well as bitter espresso. The furnishing? Just as straightforward as the menu, and that is simply perfect.
The Palmenhaus is such a nice place that it easily manages the balancing act between tourist trap and local hot spot. It's existed since the turn of the century, and a look at the glass-steel construction alone is worth the visit. Now parts of the building have been remodelled by the architect duo Eichinger-Knechtl and were modernized in the true sense of the word. The palm trees and the view over the enchanting Burggarten have remained. Try to find a spot on the terrace or at the Brunnenbar (at park level). You can spend wonderful summer nights there, tastefully set to music by Viennese DJs. Plus: Great cuisine, great cocktails.
To turn an old wine tavern into a young, modern eatery you need nothing more than a young and modern cook. Ringsmuth has learned in the Steirereck, now he expresses himself in the admittedly more modest 10th district. The cuisine is down-to-earth. However, the classics Rindsgulasch (beef goulash), Wiener Schnitzel, Zwiebelrostbraten (onion beef roast), Backhendel (roasted chicken) are prepared with the extra pinch of creativity, which makes them even tastier. The lunch special is a particularly good deal: Soup and main dish can be had for a modest 5,90 euros. The combination of highest quality and super fair prices makes Ringsmuth unbeatable.
STAY in Vienna:
The Méridien is the youngest of the extravagant houses at the ring road. The lack of tradition is balanced with super modern design and fancy styling. The furnishing in the rooms is minimalist but tasteful, and at night the hotel bar Shambala turns into a happening club scene: DJs such as Rodney Hunter and Erdem Tunakan make you dance with an international crowd. If you are mildly hung over the next day you might want to visit the fitness area: One round in the pool or a relaxing steam bath will refresh tired spirits. A night in a double starts at about 180,- euros.
Wine aficionados will feel understood in the Hotel Rathaus: It renders homage to the Austrian vintners, having named every single room after one of the vinous local heroes. Forty rooms and one loft suite, that reflects the diversity of the Austrian wine culture, and of course there are top quality samples in the minibar. Organized tours include wine trips to Vienna's surrounding areas, and if you don't want to leave the hotel you can join the in-house wine tasting events and presentations. The rooms have an individualistic flair and are furnished in a pleasant, modern design. A night in a double starts at 160,- euros.
The beautiful Art Nouveau building has apartments that fulfil nearly every demand. You can get apartments starting at at a cosy 25 or up to a spacious 90 sqm, the latter providing enough room for up to seven people. Of course there is everything that you need in the kitchen and bath room, and the big apartments even have a washing machine and dishwasher. The apartments under the attic are particularly great. They are not cheap, but you have a direct view onto St. Stephen's Cathedral. Tip: For 5 euros a person you get breakfast room service. A night in the cute suite starts at 155 euros.
SIGHTS in Vienna:
Those who live close by never move any more. And those who don't, come from all over the city to relax in one of the most beautiful parks in Vienna. In the Augarten every one finds a place. Even the two huge flak towers from World War II have been integrated and made themselves indispensable. The runners run around, the slackliners balance between the trees, while a few more senior park lovers meet for a Boccia game. The hits this summer are already taking shape: Advanced Frisbee and Viking Chess. If you don't know what that is just ask a park inhabitant, they tend to be rather communicative. After the whatever-it-is match you can return the favour with a beer, spritzer or icecream, which the Awawa-Beisel, also called Bunkerei, provides. And when it doesn't happen to be summer? Then the Bunkerei offers punches. And the Augarten itself is beautiful in every season. Tip for families: For the little ones there is a children's pool and countless playgrounds.
Amidst the Viennese Prater, we find a hidden club of a special kind: the Pratersauna. It's not a shady sauna club, but the in-club in Vienna. A few years ago, the Pratersauna was still a filthy and dubious underground sauna. Today, the club has replaced the Flex along the Danubian canal - which has been deemed the Viennese hotspot for a long time before. However, the Pratersauna is not only a club but also an artspace providing room for art, and even offers a pool landscape with garden. Brand new: the café-bistro with organic food and home-made smoothies. The swimming pool in the garden is a good bet for the summer months. In comparison to the public pools, it's never too crowded and pleasant lounge music provides for a relaxed atmosphere. If you badly want to, you can afterwards go to the famous Schweizerhaus, located on the opposite street, for a Budweiser beer and a pork knuckle. But that's a different story again...