SIGHTS in Vienna:
In the Hofburg you not only find the office of the President Heinz Fischer and the National Library, but also something that seems to be of a magical attraction for the tourists: The Imperial Apartments. The Hofburg was the imperial residence of the Habsburg, it was the seat of government and administrative centre of the Empire as well as the winter residence of the imperial family (in the summer they lived in Schönbrunn). You will get an overview when you take part in the one-hour-long tour. During that hour you will also be led through the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments of Sisi and Franz. In the Schweizerhof, the oldest part of the Hofburg, the treasures of Habsburg dynasty can be admired, including the imperial Austrian crown, the royal treasure of the Holy Roman Empire with the imperial crown or the enchanting jewels of Habsburg empresses and princesses, i.e. parts of the original jewels of Empress Elisabeth.
Long live the central cemetery? the song by the Austropop legend Wolfgang Ambros hits the nail on the head. Admittedly, the quote is so Tuesday, but it really is one of the most beautiful places in the capital. If you like cemeteries in general, you have to take a walk there, in order to get some of the morbid charm of Vienna. Three million - some of them famous - names have been chiselled in stone, thus Vienna counts more dead than living inhabitants. With a list about who's been put to rest where, you can start on a vivid grave tour, in search for Mozart, Beethoven and Falco in sometimes quite sumptuous gravesites, as well as the Presidential Vault with the remains of Dr. Karl Renner and Thomas Klestil. Well worth seeing is also the Jewish part of the cemetery, the resting place for Buddhists and the phenomenal Art Nouveau church by Otto Wagner. Tip: You either resign yourself to only seeing parts of the cemetery, or you go to the most favourite sites with the bus line 11.
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...
SHOPPING in Vienna:
It seems that it got a little tight in Nathalie Perstich's shop in the Schleifmühlgasse, between kitchen and cookbook collection. Thus she opened another one in the middle of the first district. Just as in the original Babette's, there are loads of cookbooks. But the exuberant selection of unusual spices from all over the world is new. There is reason to doubt that the Naschmarkt can compete with that: 70 spices are kept in the mysterious spice chest. They are offered in bulk, plain or mixed by hand into great concoctions. Would you like to have the luxury spice of all? Then you should try the legendary, because extremely rare Kampot Pepper from Cambodia. Hungry? Then wait for lunch. Soups, curries and savoury pastries are prepared with the spices on offer; maybe that will facilitate your choice a bit.
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.
EAT in Vienna:
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.
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.
Nothing fancy, not expensive, but cosy and popular: This is the perfect description of the restaurant of the two Lieserl'n. The menu is rich and varied: Wiener Schnitzel, Parisian, Serbian, unbreaded Schnitzel and Cordon Bleu, pork or turkey. We recommend the Wiener, which not only tastes wonderful but also comes along in an unbeatable size. After all, this is what the place is famous for. The Schnitzel size is just as legendary as the cosy Schanigarten in the patio as well as the perfect potato salad. Small tip: Normal eaters can easily order the children's portion.
STAY in Vienna:
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 hotel has 25 rooms that are so cosy that you immediately feel at home. The rooms are tastefully furnished and situated around a living-room, where a minibar and a well-stocked library invite you to stay for a while. And if you don't want to leave the house at all, you'll never get bored. The hotel has its own cinema showing Austrian classics. Moreover, there is a spa to relax and a wonderful garden, which makes you forget that you are in the middle of a big city. Tipp: Just around the corner you find the star restaurant Hollmann Salon. A night in a double starts at 140 euros.
In the Trieste it might very well be possible that there are celebrities snoring next door: Robbie Williams is a regular, Kylie Minogue was here and even David Bowie checked in. They all love the style by the British designer Terence Conran. He gave the 300-year-old horse station, in which the elegant hotel is located, a complete makeover. In the Trieste the big city is just as far away as its guests wish. Rooms with their own terrace or green garden are ideal for entirely zoning out. The Silver Bar is also worth a visit - Robbie Williams had this jewel recreated in the backstage area during a concert in Vienna. Doubles start at 293 euros.