Friday, October 25, 2013

RTW 2013 / Austria / Vienna Part 2

Up at 5am on Day 6 of the trip.
Jet lag is obviously waning.
After breakfast we wandered down to The Ring. The Ringstraße is a road (or series of roads) which surrounds old Vienna. In 1857, Emperor Franz Joseph issued a decree ordering the demolition of the city walls and moats. He laid out the exact size of the new boulevard as well as the geographical positions and functions of the new buildings. The Ringstraße and the planned buildings were intended to be a showcase for the grandeur and glory of the Habsburg Empire.
We explored the area around the Hofburg and the Volksgarten. The former currently serves as the official residence of the Austrian President but was the Habsburgs' principal winter residence and contains a number of attractions including museums, the national library and the Spanish Riding School to name just a few.
But these are not really our thing and we found the exterior architecture and surrounding gardens much more attractive, especially on a beautiful warm early autumn day.
The following slide show gives you an idea of what we saw on our wanderings.
After morning tea, there was a successful visit to a wool (yarn) shop and then a U-Bahn trip to Schottentor to try to find the Ephrussi building featured in the wonderful book The Hare with the Amber Eyes.
But no luck. More research was required.

So it was onto a tram for a trip around the The Ring and out into the 'burbs, a little, to Schloss Belvedere.
The two magnificent palaces, the Upper and Lower Belvedere, were built in the 18th century as the summer residence for the important general Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736).
He chose one of the most outstanding Baroque architects, Johann Lucas von Hildebrandt, for the project. The palaces and their extensive gardens are considered to be one of the world’s finest Baroque landmarks.

We had a quick lunch then explored both palaces.
The Upper Belvedere contains a collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. The major display, Art around 1900, contains the world’s largest Gustav Klimt collection.
The highlights are Klimt’s golden pictures Kiss and Judith as well as masterpieces by Schiele and Kokoschka. There are also prominent works by the French Impressionists and the outstanding collection of Viennese Biedermeier paintings.
This was obviously the place for the co driver to get her Klimt 'fix' and for me to get some more of Schiele.

The weather gods were still with us. High blue sky and a hot day. It was definitely beer time at the MQ on the way 'home'. Found a great place, Cafe Corbaci, with friendly service and a cool outdoor setting.
Then it was some R+R before heading out to dinner to another restaurant in Spittelberg which came highly recommended. "Zu ebener Erde und erster Stock" offers a fusion of new and traditional Austrian cuisine and was probably the best meal we had in Vienna.
The building itself was very attractive and had some history.

Their German web site is more informative than the English one.
The co driver had a venison ragout, while I chose venison escalopes washed down with a bottle of Berg Burg 2012 Federspiel Gruener Veltliner from Spitz in the Wachau.
Light and aromatic with a mineral finish. Getting used to this variety now. And liking it.

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