Wien

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When planning this trip, I was told by a few people that they thought I’d love Vienna. I’ve heard many people say that, while cities like Paris and London are wonderfully cosmopolitan and chockablock with culture, and while the Spanish and Italian cities are amazing for their food or art or nightlife, Vienna is a city that you can see yourself living in.

Vienna is, of course, rich in history. One guidebook calls it a “head without a body” — it is the former capital of the uber powerful Hapsburg Empire, yet is the seat of a small country with little military might or global sway today. Its former glory is evident no matter where in the city you go, however; as is its past as the center of several revolutionary intellectual and artistic movements (see Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Freud, etc. etc. etc.) There’s enormous palaces to be seen, the largest collections of Klimt and Schiele in the world far as I can tell (including The Kiss), beautiful, monumental statues celebrating Hapsburg greatness, a zillion monuments to various famous dead white bearded guys (see Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Freud, etc. etc. etc.), and much like Prague every corner brings a new architectural gem. (The statue above is from the Belvedere Palace, a “summer home” built by Prince Eugene in the 1700s — if by “summer home” you mean two colossal mansions linked by sprawling Versailles-esque gardens. It’s now most famous as being home to Klimt’s The Kiss.)

But who cares about all that history stuff right? Some white guys plus Maria Theresa did some stuff, blah blah blah, built some stuff, blah blah blah.

Those people who told me I’d love Vienna? They were probably talking about the food. Scratch food. The coffee. And the cakes. Above all, Viennese seem to value the importance of plopping down in a beautifully appointed cafe, ordering a melange and a Sachertorte, unrolling today’s paper and then staying there for, oh, anywhere from an hour to a half-day. Why move? The waiters don’t rush you out, they’re happy to let you sit there all day. If you finish your Sachertorte, then you order an apfelstrudel.

THIS is what I’m talking about:

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Those are the cakes on offer at Oberlaa, a chocolatier and torte maker in the Naschmarkt.

Here is the Sachertorte I sampled at the Cafe Drechsler. It was very good, though a bit too sweet for me:

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This chocolate and sour cherry torte at the cafe Milo in Museumsquartier was Delicious. My favorte food on the trip so far:

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