Postcard from Vienna

With Love from The City of Music
Created by Barbara Cacao

Barbara Cacao's website Vienna Unwrapped is a an exciting dash of Vienna as well as a set of useful travel tools for visitors to the city.

 

A local of 30 years and frequent traveller to her hometown, Barbara provides a trip planning service for independent travellers and founded the social dining event series Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations to connect travellers with locals in Vienna.

 

Barbara has also contributed various articles on Vienna for well known travel blogs and magazines including the British Telegraph's online Vienna Destination Guide.

As I write this, I think about my family who lives close to Vienna, and all the activities we love to do together in the city. Since COVID-19 has prevented us from enjoying these attractions in person, let's all enjoy these top online treasures of virtual Vienna:

The Albertina Museum has put a few amazing works of art online that spring to life right in front of your eyes. For example, in Claude Monet's House Among the Roses, viewers can see through the painting and see the actual house the work is based on. Download the Artivive app to enable these augmented reality views. 

Luxury and Poverty in Art 
Climate, Art and Catastrophe 
Body, Cult and Art

These are some examples of the 10 virtual tours curated by Vienna's Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum). Using the KHM Stories app, virtual museum guests  can learn about different phenomena in society, politics, art and the environment through the centuries.

Finally, throughout the month of April...

German musical genius Ludwig van Beethoven moved to Vienna at age 22, and remained in the city for the next 35 years of his life. The city of Vienna shaped Beethoven's compositions unlike any other composer. The year 2020 marks 250 years since the composer's birth. In honor the musical genius, throughout the year, Vienna has planned many events. This month alone, Wiener Konzerthaus is currently still scheduled perform six of Beethoven's nine symphonies. If all goes according to plan, by June, the glamorous Wiener Musikverein-- home of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra-- will have performed 80 concerts of Beethoven's music.

In addition to attending concert events, free augmented reality tours throughout Vienna are available, bringing the 18th century world Beethoven inhabited to life through cutting-edge virtual reality effects.

On May 8th, the grandest and most sparkling highlight of this birthday year is scheduled to take place: the Festival of Joy, celebrating the 75...

With the noisy carnival season in full swing, where in Vienna do lovers go for some intimate, quiet Valentine's Day bliss?

Those in need for some relaxation and decadence can treat themselves to a unique chocolate massage at the world-famous Hotel Sacher. The birthplace of Sacher Tore is also home to a spa  that offers "Time To Chocolate" treatments for two.

For couples who enjoy the outdoors, try a romantic ice skating date between the neo-gothic City Hall and historistic Burgtheater before climbing up to the new SkyRink terrace on the second floor. Or, for those who'd rather see their partner's head on a plate (and enjoy other hilarious novelties), a visit to the Museum of Illusions makes for a terrific couples' outing.

Beethoven fans: This year, all of Vienna is celebrating the 250th anniversary of the great composer's birth. Over the coming months, the city will be home to a dazzling array of music events, exhibitions, and tours. There will be piano recitals at Beethoven's former residence and favorite wine tavern, grand symphonies at the Konzerthaus, and a resplendent open air concert at Heldenplatz in May.

Music-lovers visiting Vienna for the legendary composer's sestercentennial can also attend the lovely Beethoven Museum, located in an old baker's house in the wine district of Grinzing.

With twenty different Christmas markets hosting more than a thousand booths, it can be difficult to choose the best spots to visit during the holiday season in Vienna. When it comes to punch, nothing beats the booth by Demmers Teehaus at Altwiener Christkindlmarkt on Freyung Square. Their orange punch has more flavor and less sugar than most other punch vendors. Apart from that, the booth is quite protected from chilly winds, and it's right next to the market's most atmospheric arts and craft stalls. Highly recommended.

If you're heading to Vienna this holiday season, visit Vienna Unwrapped for my up-to-date Christmas market guide! 

It's always a White Christmas in the miniature worlds depicted within the glass containers of a Viennese snow globe. Perfected in Austria in the late 19th-century by Edwin Percy, a mechanic specializing in surgical equipment, authentic snow globes are available for sale at all of Vienna's world famous Christmas Markets. In fact, Erwin Percy's family business continues to thrive, producing 200,000 snow globes each year to meet the high demand of the Christmas Markets' shoppers. 

Beginning in mid-November, Christmas Markets will open across the city once again, displaying the beautiful miniature worlds of authentic Wiener Schneekugeln to locals and tourists getting into the holiday spirit.

For more information on the best Christmas markets in Vienna, visit Vienna Unwrapped!

For the last few weeks, Vienna's vintners have been busy harvesting grapes in the Northwestern and Southern outskirts of the city. Unlike in many industrialized vineyards, Viennese grapes are still picked by hand. Whole families can be seen in the fields working throughout the harvest weeks. This is why few vintners have time to arrange public wine tastings (as I keep experiencing).

October is also the only time of year when "Sturm" becomes available. Sturm is a rapidly fermented, freshly-pressed grape juice. And what's the best way to enjoy that sparkling, mildly alcoholic grape juice? I suggest a relaxing afternoon at a pop up wine tavern in Grinzing or Stammersdorf after a stroll through the vineyards!

The aroma the world's finest coffee wafts onto the streets from the grandiose building that once hosted the central location of Austria's national bank and stock exchange. The opulent interior décor of Vienna's world famous Café Central combined with its sumptuous pastries and beverages makes this traditional coffee house a staple for locals and tourists alike. Vienna is also home to some outstanding new generation of coffee shops, that have modernized the tradition of the Wiener Kaffeehaus. These new shops use top quality, locally roasted coffee beans, and prepare each cup with great care. My favorites are Caffècouture District 1, Cafe Balthasar, and POC (People on Caffeine).

The tree-lined Viennese district of Pötzleinsdorf is perhaps best known for its parks, historic villas, and its Heurige (wine taverns). However, savvy art connoisseurs know to visit the residence of Johann Jakob Geymüller, a 19th century banker, on Sunday mornings. Built during the Age of Enlightenment, Geymüller's home is an ornately designed treasure trove of furniture and art from the Biedermeier period, as well as a collection of antique clocks. Now a branch of the MAK, Geymüllerschlössel is a wonderful glimpse into the decadent Viennese lifestyles of another era.

As local summers get hotter, more Viennese are rediscovering the traditional 'Sommerfrische' ('summer freshness') in the form of a summer mountain retreat. Among the most popular spots is Altaussee in Salzkammergut, where families spend their summers plunging into the lake, paddling between mystical Toplitz and Kammersee, Alpine trekking, detoxing with salt treatments at Vivamayr wellness resort, and enjoying local culinary delights like grilled fish on a stick or a simple hilltop 'Brettljause' (cold platter).

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