Mon - Sep 15
Mike's s had a cold since Sunday so he's got a continuing runny nose and cough, but he's better than yesterday, so we'll carry on.
Breakfast at the Hilton was good. Eggs, sausages, breads, cheeses, fresh fruits, cereal, and one of those machines that makes 8 different kinds of coffee and knows if you had a small cup or a mug under the spout. Good start.
We were out quick. The sky is cloudy with open patches, but a bit of a breeze, so we went back and got jackets and umbrellas. Good choice as it drizzled for 5 minutes as we were walking. But then it changed. The sun came out and we could walk around in short sleeved shirts.
Vienna is a beautiful city with great architecture and easy to get around public transportation. The subway system is very easy and we have certainly taken advantage of it these past 2 days. The Hilton is in a great location, only a block from the U-bahn and easy walking distance to the city center attractions.
First stop was the Sisi Museum and then the Hofburg Imperial Apartments. Emperor Franz Josef I and his Empress, Elizabeth, known as Sisi, lived here. She was assassinated in 1898 at 61. They married when she was 16. The exhibits traced her life and did a thorough job in providing an understanding of it. She was the equivalent of Princess Diana in her day; very beautiful and disliked the public life. The apartments were lavish and left no doubt as to the benefits of having a lot of money, or access to it. Just the silver and gold plated cutlery service, with implements for 50+, and the 1,000 piece porcelain and silver and gold services, left no doubt how much money, and gifts, flowed into the Habsburgs.
We took a short lunch break at Aida, a well known coffee shop, of which there seem to be hundreds in Vienna, for some coffee, Sacher torte and an Apricot torte.
Then to the Treasury (we'll do the Art Museum tomorrow). If the apartments were opulent then the treasury, which contained all of the royal regalia going back to the 8th century, was King Midas on steroids.
We even stopped in an Apotheke to pick up something for Mike's cold.
Stopped for souvenirs at a Gustav Klimt shop, he's a well know Austrian artist, and picked up some things with his artwork on them, including a nice eyeglass case.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped and made reservations at the highly recommended Plachutta, known for its steaks, though it serves other foods. They had a table for us at 6:30pm on their enclosed patio with heaters, but told us we could not keep it beyond 8:00pm as they had other reservations set for it.
Karen opted for the Filet Beef Tips in a herb cream sauce and Mike for their specialty, Tafelspitz, basically boiled beef. They have a full page of options on their menu, and you can pick which cut of beef you want them to prepare. They even have a picture of a steer with the cuts labeled. Mike ordered their 'Grosse' option, which is for people who can't make up their minds, and offers three different cuts. All the selections come with a beef soup with root vegetables, in which the beef was cooked, a marrow bone, and marrow, which you eat on two slices of dark bread, a saucepan sized portion of thick hash brown type fried potatoes with onion, and two sauces, a sour cream with chives, and an applesauce with horseradish, and wine. You don't serve yourself since as soon as you try the waiter is at your side dishing out what you want. And, on top of that, the waiter asked if this was my first time eating there and, when I said yes, he pulled out a small instruction card that explained exactly how to deal with the many dishes that comprise the meal. Everything comes in its own copper pot, with its own serving spoon and fork, and all of the pots sit on heated metal plates that the waiter warns you not to touch because they are so hot. Most everyone who comes here orders one of the meat dishes. This was a good meal, but there is nothing that compares to a grilled Tenderloin or Prime Rib or a Texas T-Bone or similar thick and juicy steak.
Typical of Vienna, or at least our experience the past few days, we left with the sun showing, even if it was getting late, mild temperatures and no breeze. We left the restaurant with drizzle, and much cooler temperatures.
We got back about 8:30pm, too stuffed for any after dinner coffee and cake and worked on the blog.
It is hard to believe that there are just two days left here.