Read, Write, Run, Roam


Eat, Pray, Love II: Vienna, Austria (Part Two)

We’ve talked about prayers. We’ve covered eating. And if you’re going to have the EPL sequel in Austria, there has to be a love interest. The bad news: there was no Javier Bardem sighting in Vienna. The good news: there were lots of other beautiful sights to fall in love with.

Vienna is a lovely city. Groundbreaking news, I know, but bear with me. I had heard it was beautiful, but I didn’t understand the fuss until I was there myself. The architecture and layout of the city is designed to make people swoon. Every time I turned a corner, there was another building to gawk at or statues to admire. Even lampposts were decorated to make one stop and take notice.

But I don’t fall in love with classical architecture, RHOB! I want something edgier.

Not to worry, Vienna has something for everyone. Meet Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the artist-turned-architect behind HundertwasserHaus.

Hundertwasser (FH) was the “bad boy of architecture” from the 1950s-1990s. He rejected the symmetry and rational planning of Vienna, taking his cues from another architecture rebel, Adolf Loos. FH believed that buildings should be wild and curved, like nature itself. His work is best reflected in the HundertwasserHaus , which has undulating floors, green roofs and trees growing inside the building.

Ladies, you’ll have to come correct if you want to impress FH-the building was mobbed when Muz and I paid a visit. (You’ll also have to be a psychic to impress FH-he died in 2000.)

But RHOB, I don’t care about architecture! What I love is shopping!

Hon, Vienna is all about your needs. There are several pedestrian avenues that feature everything from Cartier and Chanel to Zara and H&M.  The stores are gorgeous and at Christmastime, the light displays are almost as pretty as the merchandise.

Vienna’s temperatures were hardly those of Bali-but between its buildings, art, and my handsome Muz beside me, it was a city to fall in love with. We’ll definitely return-when the horses drawing carriages don’t have to wear hats.


Eat, Pray, Love: Vienna, Austria (Part One)

Vienna's supersized treats

If there’s ever a sequel to Eat, Pray, Love, it could be set entirely in Vienna. The churches, the food, and the city itself (with Muz, of course) are worthy of a book and movie. Since blogs are the lazy man’s novel, here’s my version.

The praying part I already covered, so I’ll skip that (that was my least favorite part of the book anyway). Let’s go right to eating, shall we?

We went to Vienna as part of a Christmas market tour in Europe. The markets are beautifully lit and feature kiosks selling goods, mulled wine and food. We bought a mug of gluhwein and started food shopping. Spiced bread and sweet dumplings satisfied our sweet tooth, but we also loved the savory and salty kartoffelpuffer. It’s basically a McDonald’s hash brown to the 10th degree.

I'm lovin' it

Vienna was freezing, so we decided to move our food tour indoors. We first visited Greichenbeisl, a 500-year old restaurant. The name of the place has changed through the centuries, but the great service and delicious house wine made it eternally excellent. We would have stayed for dinner (the food looked great) but decided to save our calories for Vienna’s famed desserts.

Two shops are often cited as must-visits for dessert: Sacher and Demel. Both are known for their sweets. They’re also known for suing each other to determine who could sell the “original” sachertorte, a chocolate cake with apricot jam.

Dessert settled by lawsuit? This warmed our cold little Juris Doctorate hearts. Sacher won the lawsuit, so we decided to go there first.

The cake that launched a hundred lawyers

The verdict? It was nice but not exceptional. We preferred Sacher’s history to its cake. Eduard Sacher opened the hotel in 1876. When he died, his 21-year old “Real Housewife” Anna turned it legendary. She opened discreet dining rooms for men and their “dates” and entertained aristocrats with a cigar in her mouth and pugs by her side. If you want to enjoy Sacher, skip the pastry, drink in the Blue Room, and imagine the illicit meetings and raunchy parties of its past. Save the pastry for Demel-because you’ll need the room.

Demel was our last stop before leaving town. The pastry case looked so amazing, we couldn’t decide which two desserts we wanted. So we got three.

Why settle?

The verdict? Heavenly. These were the best desserts I’ve had in a long time. Belgrade has great sweets so consider this high praise. We stuffed ourselves silly and left Vienna before we ate ourselves to death.

Vienna-a city where you’ll eat things you love-and pray that your pants fit the next morning.

Church on Sunday: Hofburg Chapel, Vienna

Muz sprang for the cheapest seats in the house

Technically this is Church on Monday. Sorry about that-but not sorry enough to pay 17 Euros for hotel internet access last night…

For this week’s church on Sunday, we went to hear the Vienna Boys’ Choir at the Hofburg Chapel in Vienna, Austria. We got the cheap seats in the nosebleed section, which accounts for the bird’s eye view of the altar. The bad news about these seats is that you don’t get a view of the pulpit-the seats are squeezed into small rooms on the top floor of the church. The great news about this section is that you can see the choir sing as long as you’re close to the balcony. The choir sings at the highest point of the back of the chapel until the end of the service.


The top chamber is where the boys perform during the service.

In addition to the choir, the musicians, adult choir, and even the priest sang beautifully. But the boys’ choir is the main event. Their voices are world famous, but what I really enjoyed was how charming they were. They’re not visible to most of the church except on closed-circuit tv, so while we heard angelic voices, we saw mussed hair, tired faces, and a lot of fidgeting. It was a sweet reminder that while these boys sound like angels, they’re just kids who might prefer sleeping in at 9:15 Sunday morning.

After the service, the boys came down to the front of the church to sing traditional Christmas songs. It was a great way to start the last week before Christmas.

Vienna is a beautiful city. I can’t wait to share it with you later this week.