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Vienna: April 2011 - Part 1 {1st Anniversary}

After enjoying our breakfast and catching a tram to the train station, we bought return tickets to Vienna. Having just missed the 10.45am train we waited for the next one an hour later. After a short 75 minute journey {at only around 64km apart, Bratislava & Vienna are the closest capital cities in the world} we arrived in Vienna and made our way to our hotel on the underground system. We stayed at The Levante Parliament Hotel, which had been recommended by our friends who got engaged in Vienna in 2008 and booked through, for three nights.

The hotel was very trendy and the room was gorgeous, although it was a lot smaller than the one in Bratislava. While we specifically chose a high star design hotel for our anniversary, the prices in Vienna in general were a lot higher than Bratislava. It only took 5 minutes to walk to the nearby Museums Quarter and around 15 minutes into the centre so it was in an ideal location, with underground and tram stops nearby if you wanted to go further afield. The hotel had a large restaurant & bar as well as a lovely looking spa & sauna area which again we didn’t have time to use.

At first glance Vienna was totally different to Bratislava, while the latter was still definitely in Eastern Europe and very laid-back, Vienna was so much more what I would describe as European and very extravagant. Especially to someone who studied art then of course, architecture, the city had hundreds of beautiful buildings I wanted to see, far too many for just one visit. In Bratislava we felt like we had seen quite a lot of the city, in Vienna you definitely just have to choose a few things as it would be totally impossible to attempt to see everything; there are over 100 museums alone!

After dropping the cases off we took a walk towards the centre, passing the Hofburg Palace {the old imperial palace} and Loos House on the way. The Spanish Riding School is part of the Hofburg complex but unfortunately we weren't able to take a tour due to performances on both Saturday & Sunday.

The first thing we did was get a hot dog from one of the hundreds of hot dog stands in the city before finding Loos American Bar.

After lunch we arrived in the main square, Stephanplatz, where the massive gothic St Stephen's Cathedral is located. The square was always busy every time we went there despite the rest of the city not being that busy in April. We were able to have a look inside but couldn't get all the way around as there was a concert in progress.

Opposite the cathedral there is a modern building, the Haas Haus by Austrian Architect Hans Hollein. It has divided opinion in the city since it was built in 1990, although I kind of liked it, especially when you could see the reflection of the cathedral. The DO & CO Hotel occupies a large part of the building and I had read that the restaurant inside the hotel was very good with a great view of the city, so we thought it would be perfect for a celebration. We had a look at the menu then booked a table for our anniversary the following evening.

We were too late to climb up the cathedrals tower so we caught the underground to the Leopoldstadt area where the Prater amusement park is located. The famous old ferris wheel, Riesenrad, is located at the entrance.

The wheel was built in 1897 and is 64m tall. It wasn't quite as smooth as the London Eye, the cabins were a little wobbly during the full rotation which took 14 minutes.

After our ride on the wheel we had a delicious ice cream then wandered around the park; it seemed to be where the young people of Vienna hung out at the weekend. We stumbled upon the world’s highest chairoplanes, the Prater Tower at 117m, which we just had to go on!

Nothing like the ones we are used to in Edinburgh at Christmas, the chairoplanes went up to a height of 95m; you definitely felt it just sitting in a chair, holding on to chains! The view was fantastic from the top, especially as the sun was setting, even if it was a little cold and windy! I wish I had taken my camera out before we went up as once at the top I didn't really want to let go to search around in my bag; I managed to get it out when we got back to a more normal height and the speed increased!

Since it was starting to get dark, we walked back into the centre then caught an underground back to the hotel, to have dinner in the Nemtoi restaurant. We don’t normally try the hotel restaurants but thought we would on this trip and I’m so glad we did, as the food was lovely. I sampled the antipasti followed by grilled king prawns, while Graham had ham & melon followed by a burger.

The next day was our anniversary so we had a very lazy morning opening cards we had brought with us from our family and friends. The hotel served breakfast until 12.30pm on a Sunday which was perfect and they had the most delicious spread including cereals, breads, smoked salmon, meats, cheeses, fruit, yoghurt's and a selection of cooked items as well as a menu to order from. I sampled the poached eggs with hollandaise sauce & spinach which were perfect.

We took a walk past the parliament building and down through the museums quarter to reach the Secession building. It was built in 1897 by Joseph Maria Olbrich as an exhibition hall for the Secession group of artists. Secession is a branch of Art Nouveau also known as Jugendstil and the building houses the 34m long Beethoven Frieze by Gustav Klimt, one of the most famous Secession works. As well as the frieze the rest of the building features modern art exhibitions which were interesting I guess but we definitely paid to see the actual building and the frieze. The text above the main entrance is the motto of the Secessionist movement: “For every time its art. For art its Freedom”.

To continue our architecture tour, we walked back to Karlsplatz square where St Charles's Church and two of Otto Wagner’s public transport pavilions are located. One of the pavilions houses a café while the other is a small museum about Otto Wagner, conveniently free on the first Sunday of the month.

Not quite done on our tour, we caught the tube towards Hundertwasser Haus, one of the main things I wanted to see in Vienna. One of Vienna’s most popular attractions, it was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser and I had seen it in many of my architecture books at uni.

As its an occupied residential block you are not allowed to go inside, although there is a cafe and some shops as part of the block. I bought a book about the house so I could read more about its interior and took loads of photos!

Opposite the house there is a small shopping gallery, also designed by Hundertwasser, where I found my Viennese Christmas decoration and we were given directions to another of his buildings, the KunstHausWien, which was just a couple of streets away.

Instead of taking the tube back we walked over the Danube canal back into the city centre, where we were looking for cake! We went to the Aria Café Konditorei in the main square which we had seen on our first visit the day before. They had every type of cake, pastry or dessert you could imagine; I had the traditional Viennese sachertorte while Graham tried a blueberry vanilla creation.

To help with the cake we walked back to the hotel through the Hofburg palace and via the Museums Quarter.

Once back at the hotel we had a short time to relax before getting dressed up for our anniversary meal at the DO & CO hotel. I bought the NW3 Tea Dress in Aubergine {or rather Graham did} for the occasion & for a friend’s wedding in May using the voucher from the last issue of Red magazine. Im going to write a separate post about our evening as the food was spectacular followed by cocktails in Loos American Bar. {I won’t mention that we missed the last underground home by 5 minutes and therefore had to walk!}

1st Anniversary - 3rd April 2011

Then we had one more day to enjoy in Vienna...


  1. I went to Vienna a couple of years ago and it has to be one of my favourite cities.Reading about your trip brought back lots of fond memories. We went in January when it was very cold. A good excuse for hot chocolate and Sacher kuchen stops. My new man hates flying so I've no idea if I'll get to return. Desperate measures may have to be called for!I'm looking forward to reading about the rest of your stay. xx

  2. those buildings are amazing, I love the patterns on their facades. also, I cant believe you went on that mental whirly thing, ugh! youre hardcore, (but we knew that right?!)


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