Vienna was MAGICAL!! Das Tyrol, my small luxury boutique hotel with the funky décor, was the perfect place to stay for my visit during Christmas week. The location, just steps off Mariahilferstrasse, the long pedestrian street, and a short walk to the Museums Quartier, allowed me to walk to most things I wanted to visit and enjoy the large Christmas Market on the way. The staff was always one step ahead of me in taking care of all my needs. Lajos, the manager on duty when I first arrived, went out of his way to book the tours I wanted and responded to my question about a nice place for Christmas lunch with a recommendation for Restaurant Mini. He made my reservation and I can’t thank him enough. All the managers were so nice, especially, Nadine, who was always smiling and cheerful and couldn’t do enough to ensure that my stay was pleasant.
Restaurant Mini was small but cozy. My Christmas lunch was one of the best meals I had during my time in Europe. The Hungarian fusion cuisine was delicious. I ordered an elderflower aperitif and when the waiter brought a goose liver mousse spread to enjoy with their homemade bread, I knew I was in for a treat. The meal was four courses, but I decided to skip the soup. The risotto with truffle oil was very good and then the main entrée, the veal chop with shrimp, asparagus, and sugar snap peas arrived. Absolutely delicious! The waiter recommended a Pinot Gris from Hungary and it was a great choice. The dessert was a plum crème brulee. I was in heaven!! The waiter brought me a complimentary Hungarian dessert wine to enjoy with it. I may have been alone, but I didn’t feel lonely with all the attention from the excellent wait staff.
I visited the Leopold Museum in the Museums Quarter one morning to view the works of Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt and several other notable Austrian artists. The Kunsthistorisches Museum exhibit of the works of Rubens took most of a morning to view and I wanted to see the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman artifacts, but the hundreds of Chinese tourists waiting in line made it impossible. I could easily have spent two days in this museum. The next morning, I went to see the Lipizzaner’s training at the Spanish Riding Academy, Spanische Hofrietschule. The 72 beautiful stallions are exercised daily in groups of six and the practice is open to the public. I wasn’t sure which building to go to in the Imperial Palace, but a block away, I just followed my nose right to the ticket office. I wished my grandson, Sebastian, who is taking riding lessons, could have been there to watch them with me.
My tour of the Schonbrunn Palace included a brief stop at the Belvedere Palace for a photo op, so I went back for the full tour one afternoon. I especially wanted to view the Klimt exhibit and I wasn’t disappointed. On my way to the Imperial Palace to view the Sisi Museum, I came across some young men selling tickets to a Strauss/Mozart Concert in the Hofburg that evening. I had given up the idea of a concert after seeing the long lines outside the Opera House, so I was happy that I could see a concert and that it was in walking distance of my hotel. It was a delightful experience!! According to the young men selling tickets, the new head of the Austrian government wasn’t going to let them use the venue in the Hofburg after the first of the year. Serendipity strikes again!! I needed at least another week in Vienna to see most of the sights, but that’s going to have to be another trip….
I flew from Vienna to Frankfurt on December 28th and spent the night in the airport Hilton before my flight from Frankfurt to Houston on the 29th. I had a two-hour layover in Houston, which was good since I had to clear customs and go through security again. I’m home in San Antonio, staying with my son and family until I depart for a Panama Canal cruise with my friend, Carol on January 20th. I’ll continue my blog once we’re on the cruise.