One of my favorite memories of Vienna is having lunch at the Palmenhaus Restaurant. We walked all over this beautiful city in Austria as first time visitors. The experience of discovering this cool restaurant, inside a greenhouse, left an indelible romantic mark on our vacation. Read More »
Chocalate-y, luscious, perfect Sacher Torte. This is the chocolate cake to end all chocolate cakes: spongy chocolate cake, with a light apricot jam in between two layers, topped with a rich chocolate and served with whipped cream. Chances are, if you’ve explored Austria, you’ve seen Sacher Torte on the menu, well, just about anywhere you can eat. And hopefully, if you are in the know, you’ve indulged in a slice.
But unless you’ve gotten that slice at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria (or perhaps its sister location in Salzburg), you’ve only been eating pale imitations of this incredible dessert. The original Sacher Torte is only served at the Sacher properties.
Whenever my family is in Austria, we make a pilgrimage to the Hotel Sacher to get some torte. But there is more to Viennese cuisine than just dessert. Hit up the Rote Bar or Anna Sacher restaurant inside the hotel for a meal you won’t soon forget – the menu is full of traditional Austrian fare as well as some very creative international dishes.
Did you know Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart met Joseph Haydn in Vienna where they became great friends? If you love classical music then a visit to Vienna, Austria is a must.
A wonderful way to experience the culture of old Vienna is to attend a concert at either the Musikverein or the Konzerthaus. Like the tango is to Buenos Aires, Argentina, so is the waltz to Vienna, Austria. The famous New Year Concert by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is held at the Musikverein, while being broadcast around the world to more than 50 countries.
A great café in Vienna, more stylish than this one, that is walking distance to either the Musikverein or the Konzerthaus is Café Schwarzenberg. We stopped in a night that we had concert tickets to the Musikverein for a coffee and snack to finish a perfect evening near the end of our vacation.
If you dressed up for your concert performance, you will notice that Café Schwarzenberg has wall-to-wall mirrors reflecting your contentment while you sit on the gorgeous leather chairs. Nice touch. That night I would not have been surprised if Christopher Plummer had been seated next to us smoking and reading his paper, in all his Sound of Music glory. Read More »
Besides the music of Mozart, when you visit Vienna, Austria you owe it to yourself to experience a traditional beer house and coffeehouse. These cafes are social gathering places quite unlike the average Starbucks. One of the best in Vienna is Café Central, located inside the Palais Ferstel.
When we were there in 2002, the building was going through yet another renovation but that didn’t stop us from having a great time inside! I wasn’t about to miss having a traditional coffee, and maybe political discussion at this famous spot. What makes Café Central famous? At its prime before World War I, literary figures socialized, worked and even received their mail here.
Besides Sigmund Freud, Lenin, and Leon Trotsky were regulars at the café. Famously in 1917 when Austria’s foreign secretary was told of the Russian Revolution, he dismissed it as a crazy rant from “Herr Bronstein” denizen of Café Central. However “Herr Bronstein” disappeared from Vienna and turned into Leon Trotsky, the Bolshevik revolutionary.
Given its history and how much we love watching political shows at our house, Café Central was a must on our itinerary. Even with the renovation and scaffolding, we found it easily from the U-Bahn (U3 Herreng is the tram stop) and settled in for a long argument conversation over a mélange, which is a drink made with half coffee and half milk.
This is a typical Viennese cafe in that you will be able to take your time, though the waiters will be quick to serve you. Bring a newspaper, postcards or your guide and enjoy yourself. They usually serve your coffee on a small silver tray with a water.
Some coffeehouses are pretty cold but this one has a nice mix of plush booths, classic marble topped tables and Michael Thonet wooden chairs. Whether you are enjoying the majestic beauty of Stephensdom or the outdoors in the Volksgarten, Café Central is situated in between both which makes it a perfect respite.
Inside the Palais Ferstel
1010 Vienna (Wien)
Tel: +01 533-3763-26
Photo by Sharon Castellanos