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Monday, July 7

Vienna or Wien

Vienna is one city that we thought was euphorically real. It exudes charm and romance from the people and its architecture. Even in the grim winter, the sun shining on buildings and old street cars made it special. It is classical with modern touch. I think Vienna is often overlooked because there are great cities surrounding it including Milan, Zurich and Munich. Other than the Vienna Opera, there aren’t obvious reasons to visit the city but I’ll give you four.

The farmer’s market is extensive. Not only is there farmers with produce and fruits but there’s also vinegar vendors selling various brews on tap, cheese vendors, seafood stall for brunch. The seafood was the most unusual we’ve seen to date. A restaurant set up a bar in the vicinity and sold oysters on the half shell. We don’t know if this is daily or during season but if given the opportunity I’d plan a meal of fresh oysters, if we hadn’t eaten already. The best part about this market was the stands and restaurants weave through a long narrow street (cars are forbidden) allowing customers to wander for an extended period of time and stop in for a bite when hunger pangs strike.

Sacher torte is one food associated with Vienna. It’s a chocolate cake with apricot jam all covered in chocolate ganache. We anticipated this long before arriving in Vienna and had done research on multiple cafes and restaurants serving the best torte. To our dismay each time we tried the torte we were disappointed. It was chocolatey and good; the tortes we tried (each night) had potential but since they were made in advance and sat in the fridge or cool space for extended time the refrigeration took away from the freshness of the torte. We still recommend trying Sacher torte in a café that has a reputation for serving the best ones.

Speaking of which, coffee houses are influential in the city to attract independent thinkers, artists, creative types to gather in a place that offers variety of coffees, pastries and some reading material including daily newspapers and magazines. We found each one to be lively and full of character(s). Most permit smoking inside, of which some offer separate non smoking rooms. Although the torte was okay, the cappuccinos and lattes were perfect. English is widely spoken in the city; we heard a lot of English conversations amongst the locals in the coffee houses.

Finally the Technisches museum is a science museum with exhibits, experiments and video guides encompassing all things science and modern technology. The areas that are covered (that I can remember) are space, energy, transport, and locomotive. It spans over 4 floors. For geek and nerds this is easily the place to spend a whole day and we wished we had more than one day. It was by far one of the coolest museums we’ve visited in Europe.

Our hotel was in the city and convenient to many sights. With a well planned public transportation infrastructure it is hard to go wrong on a hotel within the city limits.

The food in Vienna is a combination of Hungarian and German with heavy helpings of pork, dumplings and potatoes. All appropriate for a chilly winter night.