SIGHTS in Vienna:
If you haven't been to the theatre in Vienna you've missed something. The most elegant is located at the ring road, directly opposite to the City Hall. The Burgtheater has a long tradition, yet it is known as one of the most modern stages in the German-speaking world. The repertoire includes international classics and contemporary works, much of it from the rich tradition of Austrian plays. On the small stage, the Kasino, it even gets a bit more zeitgeisty and progressive: Young, courageous directors and playwrights have a platform that is no less professional than Mother Burg. Although some in the theatre city like to pretend that theatre is a pleasure for high society only, it's not at all the case: The audience is a colourful mix, and an unofficial dress code is at place - if at all - in the boxes. Tip: Going to the cinema is probably more expensive than a visit to the Burgtheater, since one hour before the start the remaining tickets are sold for half the price. Works most of the time.
The Museum District is a cult for the Viennese: In the summer you sit on the Enzis (colourful open-air furniture to stretch out on), sip take-out drinks and listen to the DJs. In the winter it's time to take in culture in one of the museums or muse about which of the great restaurants or cafés to go to this time? Take in the street life: 60,000 sqm art and lifestyle are waiting for you! The architecture of the museums is phenomenal: The most modern buildings were combined gracefully with baroque originals. At the square you find the Vienna Art Gallery, which houses many events, the Museum of Modern Art and the Rudolf Leopold Collection. Beyond the three big ones near the square there are also several smaller cultural institutions that are even more exciting, such as the Austrian Museum of Architecture (www.azw.at) or the Tanzquartier (dance house - www.tqw.at). The little ones find cultural happiness in the Jungle Children's Theatre or the Children's Museum. If you are looking for unusual souvenirs, this is also the right place for you: Many small shops sell knickknacks for back home. Our tip. Sit down in one of the cafés and watch people!
SHOPPING in Vienna:
Shanti Yoga Store
Of course, this is not all about yoga mats, yoga bags and cushions. It's interesting for all who look for relaxation everywhere, enjoying cool and comfortable fashion. This doesn't have to be hidden in your gym bag, but can be worn on the streets, too. The manager Birgit Kohl sells beautiful pieces by labels from the American scene, for example colourful shirts with brilliantly coloured Buddha and Chakra appliqués by Lily Lotus. Her advice is great, and you can touch, try and compare everything.
They have become something like a plague: T-shirts with supposedly funny lines. The advantage with the shirts in the Gloom: These really happen to be quite funny and make for a great gift. More interesting are the individual pieces by national and international young designers such as UlliKo or the Piratin. On top of that you have tights from London. Unnecessary, you think? Super funky, we say. For the little ones there are romper suits, onesies and shirts with perky quips or adorable prints. The good news: Gloom even has its own online shop. The bad news: It doesn't offer all the treasures that you can find in the shop. So: Go and hunt.
If you love tableware you won't just spend one but many hours here. Designer Hedwig Rotter designs and produces dishes and accessories and manages to make each and every one of them something special. The shapes and colour combinations are unusual, the motifs creative and funny. By the way, some of the fine things that you find here can even pass for souvenirs from Austria: At the latest when you see a deer or a couple dressed in traditional costumes on the porcelain. In the Mano Design every piece is done by hand, and the great thing is that you can watch the master at her work in the adjoining studio.
EAT in Vienna:
The Palmenhaus is such a nice place that it easily manages the balancing act between tourist trap and local hot spot. It's existed since the turn of the century, and a look at the glass-steel construction alone is worth the visit. Now parts of the building have been remodelled by the architect duo Eichinger-Knechtl and were modernized in the true sense of the word. The palm trees and the view over the enchanting Burggarten have remained. Try to find a spot on the terrace or at the Brunnenbar (at park level). You can spend wonderful summer nights there, tastefully set to music by Viennese DJs. Plus: Great cuisine, great cocktails.
On level ground?
In a way it is unnecessary to recommend this restaurant: When you see the little Biedermeier house at the Spittelberg, you won't want to go passed it anyhow. The restaurant is just as enchanting as it is simple; the only thing where one has over-egged the pudding is with the name. It serves Viennese cuisine, rather down-to-earth and simple yet tasty. The drinks are regional, too: Most wines and also the liquors are from Austria. We don't know whether or not Nestroy would come eat here. But you should, in any event!
It is rumoured that not even in Italy you can get a pizza so wonderful like the one that comes out of the oven at Maria's Pizzeria. Up until 8 p.m. the eatery belongs to the children, who watch intently what the pizza baker is doing. Starting at 9 p.m. the adults take over, and only those with reservations. The young owner has lived in Naples. Upon her return she just imported a piece of Italy to Vienna, in a literal sense: The flour and tomato sauce come directly from bella Italia, the rest from local farmers. For dessert there's Panna Cotta in all variations imaginable as well as bitter espresso. The furnishing? Just as straightforward as the menu, and that is simply perfect.
STAY in Vienna:
The Pension Nossek is often booked up months in advance, and that's understandable. If you happen to know a nicer and more charming hotel, please let us know. The family run establishment is more than 100 years old, and it's clear to see: stucco ceilings, parquet floors and Vienna period furniture create a very special atmosphere. Prices are relatively favourable, which is surprising given its location. The Pension Nossek is located directly at the moat in the first district, from some rooms your can even see the posh shopping street. There are a colourful mix of guests, ranging from the university professor to the backpacker. Doubles start at 115 euros at night.
The idea is as good as its implementation: Design at a low price. The word design, which tends to be used in inflationary ways, means nothing but modern furnishing. But the hotel excels in it. It's obvious that you have to save some money somewhere with this concept, and in this case it's the location. You can reach the city centre relatively quickly by metro, but on foot or by bicycle the trip becomes a workout. The rooms aren't particularly spacious, but since there are more interesting things to do in Vienna than to hole up in the hotel room, this is not a big problem. And if it is, you can still stretch out in the bar, which is open to its guests 24 h. A night in a double starts at 69,- euros.
The Méridien is the youngest of the extravagant houses at the ring road. The lack of tradition is balanced with super modern design and fancy styling. The furnishing in the rooms is minimalist but tasteful, and at night the hotel bar Shambala turns into a happening club scene: DJs such as Rodney Hunter and Erdem Tunakan make you dance with an international crowd. If you are mildly hung over the next day you might want to visit the fitness area: One round in the pool or a relaxing steam bath will refresh tired spirits. A night in a double starts at about 180,- euros.