One of the enticing factors of moving to Budapest was that it would leave us a 2.5-3 hour train ride from Vienna, Austria! We made a fairly last minute decision to go for it this weekend.We arrived late Friday, located our hotel, dumped our bags, changed, and then set off to find some supper in the Volkstheater area. We ended up at Victus And Mili. The atmosphere was cozy and pleasant, the menu, small (which I always take as a good sign). We asked for a recommendation from the chef and he said to try the beetroot gnocchi with marrow. So Dane took him up on it.It was good! Full of flavor and quite a unique dish. But not enough for a growing boy like Dane, so he had to help me with my pork ribs :) I don’t know if I have just been spoiled by all the amazing restaurants in Saskatoon, but some days I feel like I must be really picky. Because I would say that since being in Europe, it’s only 1 in maybe 10-15 restaurants (if that) that I would rant and rave and tell everyone to check out. Part of this might be because there are just SO SO many that the probability of hitting the bingo! ones is lower, but yeah… I don’t want to sound like a downer and I definitely eat what’s put in front of me, but I wasn’t blown out of the water by this place, cute as it was.
The dessert was interesting – it had a lemon top layer, a chocolate mousse layer, and an espresso bottom with steamed milk on the top. Went down nicely with the americano :)The next morning I dragged my husband out of bed bright and early to try out a little hipster joint called ULRICH. I had done a little (very little) restaurant research and this was one place I really wanted to try. Saturday brunch places tend to get busy in any part of the world though and I had a hunch Vienna wouldn’t be much different. It was a good job we did put in the extra effort because not minutes after we arrived (below photo looks pretty empty right), the place filled up fast and furiously. And most people had reservations. Reservations are actually a thing in Vienna, BTW.Dane had a tomato-based vegetable ragout with eggs and crispy prosciutto-type meat on top.I had the vegan power breakfast – raw veggies, beet hummus, avo, tomatoes, zuchinni/corn fritters, small cup of porridge with some fruit, and this little mini-green machine smoothie. How cute is their smoothie presentation?All fueled up, we headed out to explore. It seems as though the streets of central Vienna are lined with one ancient, beautiful building after another. It almost makes your head spin!I got a chuckle out of these street performers with horse heads. They weren’t the last ones we saw either.We made our way towards the Hofburg Palace. It was built in the 13th century and has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history.But of course, no cameras allowed inside. The story behind it was quite interesting. Empress Elizabeth (“Sisi”) married Franz Joseph when she was 16. She came from an informal upbringing so marrying into a royal family was a huge culture shock. From what I understand she was a free-spirited, poetic, artful woman by instinct, but the pressures of living in the palace walls kind of diminished her spirit and made her depressed. To make things worse, her only son commit suicide and took his wife with him … Sisi’s response was to withdraw from everyone, travel from place to place, write depressing poems, and yearn for death. Eventually she got her wish and was actually assassinated while traveling in Geneva, by Luigi Lecheni, a man who just wanted to kill someone important.What I liked most about the Franz Joseph and Elizabeth story is how much he loved her. When he learned of her death, his response was something like “no one will ever know how much I loved that woman.” He seemed to overlook her moody behavior, need for travel, withdrawal from him, etc and just kept on adoring her. It was nice to spend an hour or two getting lost learning about life in the palace walls. Sure beat hanging outside in the frigid wind!Our next stop was Palmenhaus – I have a thing for greenhousey-looking buildings so when I found this one online, there was no way I wasn’t hunting it down (didn’t take much hunting actually, cuz it’s quite famous).
It’s this gorgeous building with a huge huge ceiling, a billion windows, and tons of greenery – turned into a cafe/restaurant.We settled in for a hot drink.Although with his winter jacket on, he doesn’t look very settled :POnce we had our second caffiene kick of the day, we went next door to Schmetterling Haus!A butterfly house! This is actually part of the Hofburg Palaces, which extend to cover a ridiculous amount of land. (Many of the other old palace buildings are utilized today by the Austrian government.)
While I do like butterflies, if I’m being honest, I was more excited about the building interior than anything.It’s like stepping into the tropics! Warm, humid air, greenery everywhere, a little waterfall … so dreamy.
For some reason I am so drawn to the combo of greenhouse windows + greenery. It makes me giddy.Spotted – one of the MASSIVE gorgeous blue butterflies that do not pause anywhere long enough to capture.He was a pretty good sport comin’ along with me.The exterior… the far left wing is Schmetterling, the middle is Palmenhaus, the right wing is a winter greenhouse.After a little more walking and sight-seeing, we were ready to experience traditional Austria/Viennese food. We found Lugeck. Their most famous event is the Weiner Schnitzel, so we got a plate of that and some Chicken Schnitzel as well.
It comes on the side with some heavy, creamy potato and cucumber salads.While I don’t have much to compare with, this restaurant seemed to do the traditional thing pretty well. I really liked the bright, contemporary atmosphere and sweet branding.I do wonder though, if KFC was inspired by Viennese food? Deep-fried food + creamy salads? Not sure. But I do know I felt heavy like I had eaten KFC after! Haha.Cute hey? I didn’t take enough photos to give you a better idea bout the interior.After lunch, we wandered over to the Museums Quarter. We didn’t go through one specific exhibit, but just walked in and out of some of the buildings and hallways where budding artists had displays. Some things were ingenious while others… I could not understand how they were deemed art (but that’s art for ya!).We went back to our hotel to put our feet up for a half hour. The famous ferris wheel was right close to where we were staying so we were planning to hit that up at dusk.Look at all those cranes!When we got to the ferris wheel, there were quite a few others who had the same idea as us (sunset ride). Having read that is was kind of a tourist trap anyways, I wasn’t hell-bent on waiting in line for tickets and then climbing into a caboose car with 8 other people, just for one cycle. So we did what we do (er, what Dane does) and found a cheaper option.I think you call this the kiddie ferris wheel. But hey, there was no line…And we still enjoyed a beautiful view for a quarter of the price. This shot gives you an idea of just how much of a kiddie ride it was 😂 The more I see in Europe, the more I want to run as far away from anything that the rest of the tourist people do and just explore the way everyday locals live. We haven’t even been anywhere in high season so I imagine that when it comes, it will only deepen that feeling for me. It’s almost like if you read about “famous” cafes or restaurants on any sort of tourist website, it’s a sure sign you should definitely steer clear of it. Those type of places generally have the worst food and they charge you a pretty penny!After a walk through the amusement park, we went back to the city center and got off the tram at the Rathaus stop. This was where everyone seemed to be on a Saturday night. The draw? A skating path/rink and lots of vendors.Fish just cookin’ away on the fire…
Mulled wine…We hung around for awhile, walked a little more, found a snack, and then eventually made our way back to the hotel.
Sunday was spent with a whole crew of amazing people (these are just a few). We were spoiled by excellent company and didn’t make it home til 1030 or 1100 that night due to our excessive chatting. Monday for breakfast I got to see my sweet little Austrian yoga bud! We were at our Kelowna training together so it was extra special to reunite.After an awesome catchup, Dane and I did a bit more touring. The Hofburg Palace (which we had visited earlier) was the winter residence of monarchs in Austria. But the Schönbrunn Palace was the summer house.Even thought we enjoyed the Hofburg tour, we (mostly me) weren’t real excited about touring another palace, so we walked around to check out the gardens. I can only imagine what this would look like in the spring…When we went around to the back, we were greeted by this view of a hilltop with another palace-looking thing on the top.We decided to trek up and see what there was to see.It offered a pretty stunning view of Vienna ❤(PS – trying to get even remotely-normal photos of him is like pulling teeth these days!)We soaked in the views for a few minutes before it started to downpour. This time we had an umbrella though so we were golden. We walked back down through the forest, thoroughly enjoying a moment’s escape from the city and feeling like we were back in nature!After we finished our leisurely walk, we realized the time. Then came the scurrying here and there, catching metros, picking up our bags, getting back to the train station … before we were enroute to Budapest. The 3 hours went very quickly as I kept busy.And now we are into another week of life in Budapest! Can’t believe it’s already been a month.