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Vienna City Trip - Vorstadte

Rathaus, Vienna's City Hall
Rathaus


VIENNA DAY 3: Belvedere, Hundertwasserhaus and Naschmarkt

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While one can easily explore Vienna's historical center on foot (and even the Ringstrasse, if you don't mind battling traffic), seeing the sites in the Vorstädte (inner suburbs) will require riding Vienna's mass transit system. The easy-to-use trams, subways and buses are fast and efficient and will take you anywhere you want.

The Belvedere in Vienna is home to a large collection of Secessionist art
The Belvedere

Fans of Secessionist artists should not miss the Belvedere, two huge baroque mansions connected by a beautifully landscaped sloping garden. The upper mansion houses a great collection of paintings by Schiele and Klimt, including the latter's famous The Kiss.

It's also right next door to Daniel Bakery, located in the hotel of the same name. Each morning, it lays out an extensive breakfast buffet complemented further by the charm of botanical accents, ample sunlight, and vintage and custom-made furniture.

From the Belvedere, jump on the U-Bahn to the Hundertwasserhaus (or take the red line at Taubstummengasse Station, switch to the green line at Karlsplatz, and get out at the Landstrasse/Wien-Mitte station). Inspired by his commanding principle that "the straight line is godless and immoral," Friedensreich Hundertwasser redesigned these residential apartment buildings in 1983 into what looks like a giant children's playhouse. Walls are covered with friezes, gilded domes, oval windows, and a cacophony of bright colors that define Hundertwasser's style, which was really a reaction to modern architecture's proclivity for flat surfaces and boxy structures. Inside the Hundertwasserhaus is a collection of the artist's paintings, but the real treat is just walking around the building itself.

Steady yourself afterwards with a sampling of true Viennese schnapps at the Alt-Wiener Schnapsmuseum (Schnapps Museum). The museum, just off the U-Bahn's Philadelphia Bridge stop, was founded in 1875 and still features some original equipment. Best of all, you can sample about fourteen of these sweet-smelling liqueurs distilled according to old recipes. Be sure to book in advance since groups of ten are required for tours.

Naschmarkt in Vienna is one of Central Europe's best outdoor markets
Naschmarkt

When you're ready for a snack, head to the Naschmarkt, perhaps Central Europe's best outdoor market. Parallel rows of kiosks — one serving ready-to-eat grub, the other selling fruits, veggies and products like honey, figs, and olive oil — eventually give way to an intriguing outdoor flea market, where people from all over Central and Eastern Europe hawk antiques and other goods.

For an escape from the hustling and bustling crowds at Naschmarkt, head out to Schönbrunn Palace (from the Karlsplatz station jump on the green line to the Schönbrunn station), the Habsburgs' former summer residence. Bigger than some medium-sized towns, the grand, gated palace boasts almost 1,500 ornate rooms (kind of like a junior Versailles). It was this scaled-down grandiosity that some historians believe saved the ruling Habsburgs from the revolutions that occurred in France in 1789.

One of the most impressive rooms is the Hall of Mirrors, where, the seven-year-old Mozart performed in 1762. It was here that he made his famously impromptu and comical wedding proposal to Marie Antoinette, one year his senior. Music lovers can obtain tickets for daily concerts held in the Orangery — the largest conservatory of its type in the world — by the Schönbrunn Palace Orchestra. Hand-held audio tours of the palace are also available.

The Schönbrunn Palace is the former summer residence of the Habsburgs
Schönbrunn Palace

Afterwards, head over to the Haus Der Musik to explore more of Vienna's musical heritage — and even exercise your own creative muscles. Here you can compose your own CD or play virtual conductor to the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra.

For shopping and nightlife, one of the best spots to hit in all of Vienna is Mariahilferstrasse and its environs, located in the sixth district and just a short foot-jaunt from the MuseumsQuartier. While tourists flood the historical center, locals come here to eat, drink, and shop. Kids and fans of "The Third Man" will want to check out the Prater. Located in Leopoldstadt near the Danube River, this old-school amusement park has a Ferris wheel (where Orson Wells gave his famous "cuckoo clock" speech) that dates back to 1898.

If you're tired of the hearty Viennese fare, try Ra'mien, which serves up stylized Thai and Vietnamese dishes in a chic designer space. Old World cuisine can be found at König von Ungarn (King of Hungary), which is known for its excellent service. Another option is the upscale corner restaurant Fabios, serving Italian fare amid lots of black leather.

And here the dance ends — but we hope this will not be your last waltz in this city of musicians.

For more information, visit the Vienna Tourist Board, www.wien.info

MORE VIENNA INFORMATION

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Mozart statue


*Images courtesy of www.wien-bild.at

(Updated: 03/19/13 CT)


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