Sunday, 3rd December 2006 – Vienna, Day 3
Sunday was slightly less frenetic than Saturday had been. Again we started with a superb breakfast in the hotel, then took a slow wander along to the Hofburg. It was a chilly day, but we wandered round the outside for a while, and along the Ringstrasse before it was time to go to the Staatsoper. I’d found a Matinee which was €5 each to get into, although the website refused to furnish any information about what we would get to see. All we were told was that it was Richard Strauss’ Arabella. It turned out to be a talk about the upcoming premiere with some musical interludes. The artistes who came on stage to discuss the work, also sang (with one exception) and sounded very good to me. It also gave the others a chance to get a look inside the Opera House at a rate far cheaper than the guided tours, and a chance to sit and relax in a warm (far too warm), dark environment.
Afterwards, taking photos as we went, we headed back around the Ringstrasse, stopping by the Mozart Memorial to take photos (as you do), before worming our way into Cafe Landtmann. With our stunning sense of timing, we managed to get two tables together – 7 of us, remember – in an apparently packed to the rafters establishment within two minutes of handing our coats over at the cloakroom. This was so surprising that we all needed to sit down with coffee and cakes (at a discount with our Vienna Cards at that), although I confess I hit the gulasch soup first in order to thaw out… After that a Kaffee Landtmann with whipped cream, brandy, coffee liquer and cinnamon was just the thing. Especially with a slice of Milchrahmstrudel, which looked light and fluffy but wasn’t! Actually, it was delicious but I felt as if I was about to explode afterwards (and I’m still trying to figure out how I could possibly be 1lb less when I weighed myself on my return)…
Anyway, from there it was a quick trip across the square, past the Minoriten Kirche, to the Hofburg, and more specifically the Schatzkammer Museum. This, for me, is the highlight of the Hofburg, and is full of wonderful shiny things! To quote from the website “The most important treasury in the world is reason indeed to be amazed: Here, in the oldest part of the Imperial Palace (13th century), you find not only the Emperor’s Crown of the Holy Roman Empire (circa 962) and the Austrian Emperor’s Crown (1602), but also the Burgundian Treasure from the fifteenth century and the Treasure of the Order of the Golden Fleece.” It certainly amazes me every time I visit it. There is so much to be amazed at, and so much to see. It’s just wonderful! I love the Burgundian embroidery, the Napoleonic collection, and the Crown of the Holy Roman Empire in particular, but also the 12th Century coronation robes, and Emperor Maximillian’s sword and scabbard. Oh, and the gold-bound book from Charlemagne’s coronation… It’s hard to know where to start and if the building was on fire I’m not sure what I would try and save first!
Angela and I had to be dragged kicking and screaming from the collection, and Steffie was hard to prise loose from the embroidered copes, but eventually we wandered back out, and then took our time finding our way back. We stopped off at Freyung at the Altwiener Markt and took a look inside the arcade that edges round the Palais Ferstel. After that it was back to the hotel – in the case of Lynne and I by a slightly tortuous route that led us past the Jewish Memorial, and along the Hoher Markt, which hadn’t been in my plan, but never mind!
We relaxed briefly, changed and met Irene’s friend Patrick in the hotel bar for a sekt or two. After that we dined at the very wonderful Do & Co, which is a very trendy establishment on the 7th floor of their hotel, overlooking the roof of the Stephansdom. The chef is highly regarded, and I can see why. We drank cocktails in the Onyx Bar first, then trooped upstairs. The sushi was the best I’ve eaten anywhere, but the crispy fried duck with udon noodles was absolutely sensational – and I have no idea how they did it! It was coated in some sort of tempura-style batter and was light, and delicious, and I could have eaten that forever. Having said that, Steffie’s lobster was superb as well, as was the lamb I filched off someone else’s plate… All in all, a superb meal. And so, once again, we staggered back to the hotel for a glass of port and a lie down in a darkened room.