I am back. And I am picking you up from exactly where we left last time. In the by-lanes of Vienna, Hanging with the Hapsburgs, enjoying the architectural sights and stories (click here for a recap)..
After the sights of Vienna, its time to dig into the tastes and sounds here. Staying at Wombats, Naschmarket was a huge plus. Not because of the clean rooms, friendly staff and the in-house pub with cheap beer! It was the walking tour. Apart from the usual tour-tour, it included an introduction to the food and entertainment in the city. It said Vienna is love. And here is why:
1. The Quest for the Best Sacher Torte:
Vienna loves good living and the Sacher Torte is an important element in it. The recipe is pretty simple. With an apricot jam filling, its basically chocolate on chocolate. I scouted for the best Sacher Torte in town. Feasting at Cafe Sacher, Demel’s Cafe and Zanoni & Zanoni. The final was definitely between Cafe Sacher and Demel’s Cafe. Infact, they even fought it out in court for the tag ‘the original Sacher Torte’ which went on for a century. But I think Demel’s had the best one. Perfect dense chocolate cake, with a think layer of apricot jam coated with a thin dark chocolate icing, served with unsweetened whipped cream. Perfect. Period.
But I asked the tour guide if he agreed with me. He said, ‘Bloody hell, no. The best sacher torte is made by my grandmother and no one else.’ I touched a nerve there.
2. The Apple Strudel story
Another multi-national Viennese delight. I tried the strudel at Demel’s. I actually saw them baking the next batch. The wheat based filo comes from Turkey, apples from Germany. Tossed with sugar, cinnamon, rum raisins and rolled up neatly before it enters the oven! And in 20 mins, voila – the Viennese Apple Strudel. Wiped off the plate clean. It was that good!
3. Schnitzel – Wiener or Italian ?
I walked into a traditional restaurant in Naschmarket thinking the Schnitzel would be a light snack. After all, google said it was a portion of meat fried in oil or fat. But no! Its actually conceptualized in Italy but here, they add Bohemian dumplings and serve with Hungarian goulash. It is made of veal, garnished with lemon and served with potato smash and butter. And the ghoulash- that’s a vegetable and meat stew spiced with paprika. Delicious but heavy stuff!
4. Buffet Trzesniewski
And we are still not done with food. Whenever you are in Vienna, you have to go here for lunch. And its not just you, a local, with whom I shared the table with, told me that for ages people have grabbed a quick lunch here. Infact, Trzesniewski is an institution for finger sandwiches. Grab the menu and select 3-4 sandwiches. I selected ham on egg, egg on egg and herring with onions and chicken liver. Also get the tiny traditional beer – Pfifff. Fast Food – Viennese style.
5. Love & Support for LGBT:
The Austrian government supports the LGBT cause like no other. Do not miss the LGBT Freedom on all Trams right in the front. If you miss that, I am sure you wont miss these cute traffic lights. 50 traffic lights at Vienna got a makeover. something not just Austria but the entire humanity can be proud of.
I have this love for markets. Not just for the candid picture but especially markets which sell everything together – antiques, clothes and food. Naschmarket is one of them. Its on the Vienna river. I got talking with the chirpy owner at a food stall. Told him wanted to eat something traditional. He said he was Hungarian, but said would be really happy to take me around in the market. He took me on a 15min tasting tour – I had fresh olives, baked baklava, a 5 day old cabbage (supposedly very healthy – a vitamin treasure – no wonder it tasted shit) and a couple of drops of the strongest berry vinegar in the market. That one almost gave me a shock. Got back to his stall and I ordered the fattest stuffed chicken leg I have ever seen. Baked chicken, spiced with paprika and served with salad. So much food-gasm in this post!
When it comes to the Opera, everywhere in the world people go ga-ga over it. One, I don’t understand music. Second, I had heard, one show costs anywhere between a fortune to a kidney! And then I was in Vienna. The Vienna state opera is listed in the top 5 Opera Houses in the world. So I knew i could not afford it on a backpacking budget! But hellllllo, opera at Vienna is almost free if you can grab standing tickets for the show. It has limited standing tickets costing 3-4 euros a person. Sale starts from 4:30pm and people start lining up from 3:30pm. I reached the place at 3:15, stood in the queue for an hour reading a book (i had come prepared to pass time), grabbed a ticket and absolutely enjoyed the show for the evening – it was Macbeth! Yes, THE MACBETH by Giuseppe Verdi at the Vienna State Opera. I did not know much about him, but I was completely enthralled by the experience. I got back to the hostel and googled him. He is one of the best! I was so addicted to the experience that I went for another show the next evening. L’Elisir D’Amore by Gaetano Donisetti. Also, attended Mozart’s Don Giovanni by Karl Sollak in Prague! Addicted now!
A late night snack & coffee at the Opera cafe will energize you for the night to follow.
Polish of your travels with a sundae at Tichy. Or a Choclate cone!
Perfect end. I am going to stop at 7, I am a Harry Potter fan 😛
Things I did not do:
- Dropped in at Mozart’s or Freud’s
- Visited the oldest zoo in the world – Panda bro! –dont like caged animals-
- Hit the night scene -wombats had an in-house pub which served cheap beer.-
- The amusement park and the Giant Ferris Wheel -lost hair. parks dont amuse me-
BY THE WAY. In other news, I am back in the Bay. Europe. Mischief Managed. Came back to India in July. Despite the insane traffic, absolutely love it here!
“You can take the Boy out of Bombay, you cannot take Bombay out of the Boy” Rushdie.