Sunday, July 15, 2018

Vienna: My favorite type of sausage in a can

The last leg of our April European adventure landed us in Vienna. When Micah and I were planning our trip, I threw around the idea of ending in Budapest but Micah wasn't enamored with that idea so we settled on Vienna, since it was a mere 4-hour train ride from Prague.

When we got into town, we took the subway to our hotel, which was the Hilton Vienna Plaza. It was perfectly situated along the Ringstrasse — a road that encircles the historic center.

Beautiful arrangements at the Hilton Vienna Plaza
Our friends Kat and Will were staying at a different hotel so we would coordinate meetups at various places for the rest of our trip.

The Basics 
Time there: 3 nights
Where we stayed: Hilton Vienna Plaza

Day 1

After putting up on things, Micah and I went to grab some dinner at Beaver Brewing Company at the recommendation of some people we at a beer store in Prague.

It was a brewpub that served burgers and had very American-centric beers on tap. Burger was really good but the beers were nothing special for us.

That evening, we walked around the area and saw Votivkirche, a neo-Gothic church across the street from Sigmund Freud park.

We ended the night at a brewpub called 1515 Brewing. What's odd about Vienna is that it still allows bars to have separate smoking rooms. YUCK! At one bar we walked into, you had to walk through the smoke-filled room to get to the non-smoking section — but we all know smoke permeates everything so even that section will leave you walking out of there smelling like an ashtray. Get into the 21st Century, Vienna!

Day 2

On our first full day in Vienna, we decided to start it off with a proper Viennese (not Vietnamese, but close!) breakfast. We walked to Cafe Landtmann and had a beautiful breakfast with proper cafes. 

I had the salmon eggs benedict and Micah had an omelet. 

In a city full of museums, it's hard to pick one or two to visit, but I ended up making Micah go to the Kunts Historisches Museum with me. 

If you love art history, this place is for you. Most of the collection dates back to the House of Hasburg and their private collection. 

When you walk in and look up, you'll see murals done by Gustav Klimt, which are gorgeous. 

My favorite piece in the museum.
After making Micah suffer at the museum for several hours, it was time to get some traditional Vienna beers. A travel pamphlet mentioned 7 Stern Brau as a place that brewed traditional Austrian beers, so we made a beeline there.   

We enjoyed most of their beers but I did have to send one back because it was infected, however, they didn't give me a refund. Apparently, the Viennese do not believe in refunding bad beer.

I also had their goulash here and it was delicious. It had the quality of a Vietnamese beef stew, which I really enjoyed.

Kat and Will met us up at the brewpub and Kat had her 20th goulash (I jest, I think it was her fifth).

After 7 Stern Brau, we went to a brand new beer bar called Ammutson.

The bar owner, a lovely Egyptian with a head of curly hair, had opened the bar just that week and it was already seeing a decent crowd. He doesn't believe in big beer and all the beers he has on tap are made by small businesses he supports. Some of the best beer we found was at this bar.

Day 3

Since we had nice breakfast the morning before, we settled on McDonald's for Day 3 breakfast. Unfortunately, McD's in Austria do not carry my fave: sausage McMuffin with egg. T'was a sad morning.

It was a beautiful spring day, so we just spent the time wandering around the center and made a stop at St. Stephens Cathedral. We didn't do the catacombs, but our friends did and they said it was worth it!

And because I couldn't leave Vienna without trying their famous desserts, we had a mid-day snack at the famous Cafe Demel.

I ordered the apple strudel (which reminded me of that scene in Inglorious Bastards) and a tea sandwich with salmon on it. Both were divine.

After taking a nap, we took a stroll along the graffiti-laden bank of the Danube River. I love graffiti art and they sure do it right in Vienna.

Micah had one other brewpub he wanted to try called CraftMuhle, but before we got there, we walked around a vibrant open-air food market called Naschmarkt.

It had everything from spices to Mediterranean foods. Numerous vendors trying to sell you dried figs and other goods.

Menu at CraftMuhle
Inside Beer Street

Once we made it to CraftMuhle, we had a few beers (Kat and I switched to Aperol Spritz) and then made our way to a place called Beer Street, which has tons of beers on tap. Be forewarned though, they ONLY accept cash.

For our last meal in Vienna and our trip, we ate at this adorable place called Brezelgwolb Cafe, tucked away in a busy area of the city.

To start off the meal, you get a fluffy, salty pretzel. One of the best pretzels I've ever had.

I ended up getting a pork dish and Kat went for her last goulash of the trip.

We ended up going back to the hotel for one last nightcap before calling it a night for our early morning flight out of Vienna.

That Saturday morning, we missed the bus we were supposed to take to the airport. Frustrated that we might miss our flight, a lovely young man tried to help but we ended up getting an Uber and we made with plenty of time to spare. Crisis averted, even though Micah and I almost killed each other that morning.

When people ask me about Vienna, I have to reply that it was unremarkable for me. The city is clean, pretty and has tons of great museums, but it lacked a certain quality that I'm looking for in a European city. I know the city was heavily damaged during WWII bombings, so much of the city is "new." But for me, it wasn't Prague. It wasn't Paris. It wasn't Brussels. It wasn't Munich. It just wasn't special. I'll skip it next time and go to Salzburg instead.

I also realized I never ate ANY sausage in Vienna. I fail at life.