It’s my last full day and tomorrow morning Nicola has to go to work – attend the conference that’s brought her, and thus me, to Vienna. We wanted to go to the Belvedere together to see their Klimt paintings, most famously The Kiss so that was to be the highlight of our day.
Last night we ended up eating burgers. The Austrian restaurant we decided to go to was full, so we booked for tonight and went instead to the nearby Die Burgermacher.
It was a simple place but friendly and relaxed. They use all organic ingredients. I had a Mexican burger and Nicola chose vegetarian halloumi. They were great. The ‘frites’ especially were fantastic; some of the tastiest and best I’ve ever had.
This morning we checked the best route to the Belvedere and thought we’d stop en route at a cafe we liked the look of. It was quite a long walk and it took us most of the way to find somewhere open! A lot of places are closed on Sunday. Having found somewhere we settled on the best: the Grand Hotel Wien. It was very grand indeed, the coffee was expensive but good and beautifully served by a friendly waitress and their terrace was a quiet and peaceful place to stop for a while.
It turned out that it was the perfect summer’s day to visit Schloss Belvedere, an 18th century palace and summer residence to Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736). Apart from going there to see Klimt’s paintings the palace is worth a visit itself and also offers a magnificent view over Vienna.
The inside is magnificent, a statement of the power and glory of the age in which it was built.
We loved the Klimts and looked at some other paintings but didn’t want to spend too long inside so went out into the botanical gardens. They weren’t so impressive – but then when one lives near Kew Gardens as I do, one’s standards are very high!
We’d seen somewhere in the guidebook we liked the look of for lunch but it was closed, so we moved on to Cafe Alt Wien.
It was very hot outside so nice to move inside. Despite the heat I decided to have their goulash – I had to try this classic Viennese dish somewhere and theirs was said to be good. Fortunately they offered a ‘Klein’ version – small size – so perfect for lunch.
I ordered a glass of local Gruner Veltliner White wine (€2.20). I’ve been drinking this a lot – partly because I like to drink local wine when away but also because Rick Stein waxed lyrical (and poetic Rick is often actually lyrical!) about it in his Long Weekend BBC TV series recently when he visited Vienna. It’s a mix of local wines; fresh with a full flavour. This was particularly good.
It was really too hot to stay out at this time of day so we headed back towards our apartment. Nearing it we passed Cafe Landtmann, which we’d looked at yesterday and thought we’d go back to sometime. Founded in 1873, it was a favourite with Mahler, Sigmund Freud and Marlene Dietrich. It is also famous for its apple strudel and claims to be the home of the original Viennese apple strudel. Yes, you’re right, we couldn’t resist.
It was glorious inside, everything I’d expected from a Vienna coffee house. Elegant, calm and with excellent service. The Apple Strudel was fabulous and lived up to its reputation. Just perfect. It came with a choice of vanilla sauce (custard!), whipped cream or plain. We chose vanilla sauce. I had a Melange coffee with it, a classic accompaniment. A lovely end to a brilliant half day but definitely now time for an afternoon siesta!