Author Archives: Yuriy Shiyanovskii

A very unique Coffee house

Vienna is the city of coffee houses. There are coffee houses everywhere here. A very unique experience at the Cafe in der Burggasse 24 (map). The atmosphere and the surroundings of the cafe transport you elsewhere as you enjoy a nice cappuccino. The staff of this cafe is very friendly staff and the cafe is filled with many plants providing a very visually stimulating environment.

The place looks a bit strange, the decor is very unique and hard to describe. The cafe is adjacent to a shop. You can take a date here and dazzle him/her with the uniqueness of this place or you can find a quiet corner and get lost in your work. If you want to do work, finding an electrical plug might be somewhat difficult, but it is doable.

The cafe offers breakfast and other food items throughout the day. There are various desert options to enjoy along side of your coffee. On the cold days, you can enjoy warm fire from an indoor fireplace . For drinks, the cafe offers a vast selection of non and alcoholic drinks.

The last point about this cafe I would like to mention is the old elevator that has been converted to a booth for two people. If you have enough courage, you can enjoy your coffee while suspended in a fixed elevator. Otherwise, you can pick another place and enjoy watching people decide if they want to enjoy some elevator coffee.

 

 

The Donaukanal is getting ready for warm spring.

The warm weather is finally here. The parks are green, the trees and flowers are blooming and the whole city is out enjoying the weather. If you enjoy the water and water side attractions, you have many options throughout the city. One of my favourite places to go, is the Donaukanal. The canal (map) can be accessed almost anywhere in the city. It runs through Vienna east of the 1st district starting at the 19th and running south all the way to the 11th district.

The canal is a great place to come and relax. There are many bars and ice cream places sprinkled throughout the canal. During the day, you can find many people laying out in the sun and enjoying the calmness of the water with the occasional boat passing by. For the runners, the canal offers many kilometres of uninterrupted running pavement. For the cyclists, the area is starting to get a little bit crowded.

The bars (Tel Aviv beach, etc)  along the canal are now open and on sunny days they are filled to the brim. Once the sun is down, the party along the canal keeps going, weather permitting. The canal is very friendly to children with many playgrounds along the canal. On the west side of the canal, you can find outdoor working out equipment as well as basketball courts. The east side of the canal is a bit greener and more comfortable for laying out in the sun, especially at the Wettsteinpark (map) or between U4-Schottenring and U4-Friedensbrücke stations.

The canal supports a very strong graffiti scene. During the weekends you can find artists retagging the walls with beautiful works of art. You should definitely take a walk once a week if you enjoy street art. The canal also includes many different outdoor spaces. There are urban community gardens, yoga places and art installations. If you want to enjoy a club scene, the canal has that for you as well, Flex club. (map) I personally have never been to Flex club, but I see many people go in and out of this place, every time I am passing by.

A few weeks ago, I noticed another bar being constructed. A few days ago, the bar was being stocked with alcohol and being prepared for an opening. One last thing, Donaukanaltreiben Festival happens on the canal during June!

A Different Schönbrunn Experience

You can spend many days exploring the grounds of the palace. But most people overlook a simple gem tucked away in the courtyard of the palace: the Apple Strudel experience (Strudelshow) (link). The apple strudel is a famous pastry that became very popular during the 18th century throughout the Habsburg Empire. The Apple Strudel experience, shows you how to make the apple strudel following the same recipe that has been used in the palace for over a century!

For only 6 euros, one can enjoy an interactive demonstration and enjoy a piece of the apple strudel. For only 5 more euros, you can have a much larger piece and enjoy a cup of coffee to go with it. The demonstration is quite thorough and shows you the small details necessary for a superb apple strudel.

A small tip: if you want to participate in the actual demonstration, answer the Chef’s question. (the special cloth). Upon the completion of the demonstration you will receive a special certificate. The cafe is rather small and gives a nice escape for the masses crowding the palace courtyard.

Enjoy the Apple Strudel! The cafe serves the strudel via old style, with powered sugar.

Small piece of Japan behind the Theater

Vienna has thousands of different restaurants. Thus, It is a very pleasant feeling to stumble upon a small restaurant out of the vast crowded field that captures an essence of food’s origin. The place I want to introduce you to does exactly that. There is a small piece of Japan hiding away behind the Volkstheater, with authentic kokeshi dolls and fantastic food. The Mari’s MetchaMatcha Wasyoku Cafe-Restaurant (link) is located at Neustiftgasse 7 in the 7th district (map).

The concept behind the restaurant is slightly different from any other place I have been to so far in Vienna when it comes to Japanese food. The people behind MetchaMatcha are focused on educating their customers about traditional and modern Japanese culture. Of course that culture includes delicious Japanese food.

The atmosphere, the food prep and presentation deliver an unforgettable experience. I don’t want to spoil the experience with photos of food or the decor. One should experience it for him/herself.  The place is rather small, for lunch you might be able to get away without having a reservation. However, for dinner I would highly suggest calling ahead. The restaurant does not take credit cards, so bring cash. You can communicate in German, Japanese or English (depending on who is working that day).

If you are in a hurry or the place is fully booked out, drop by, they have a lot of interesting to go treats. I will disclose one amazing item that everyone should try, the match cheese cake. Try it, you wont be sorry.

 

WOW! Exhibition at Leopold Museum!

Currently at the Leopold Museum (map), located at the Museumplatz, there is a fantastic exhibition, called the “WOW! The Heidi Horten Collection”.  The exhibition is happening from 16.02.2018 to 29.07.2018. The collection features more than 170 works from over 100 years of art history. Some of the artists include Marc Chagall, Gustav Klimt, August Macke, Franz Marc, Henri Matisse, Joan Miro, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Egon Schiele, René Magritte, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean Dubuffet, Lucio Fontana, Lucian Freud, Damien Hirst, Alex Katz, Yves Klein, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol and many others. The private collection comes from  Heidi Goess-Horten and is displayed under one roof in the Leopold museum.

The exhibition is included in the admission price of the museum which is 13 euro and 8 euro reduced price for students, seniors, etc. If you are interested in art of the last century, you are in luck. The collection is very impressive and deserves your attention.

The exhibition also sponsors a free time slot every Thursday.  From 19:00 to 21:00, every Thursday, one can enter the museum for free and explore not just the WOW! Exhibition but also every other exhibition in the museum including the permanent exhibits of the Austrian artists. The Jubilee show by Egon Schiele is especially interesting. The show is on display from 23.02.2018 to 04.11.2018 . The special exhibition opened exactly 100 years after the death of Egon Schiele. The show demonstrations the evolution and transformation of the artist during his short lived artistic career.  It is a very powerful display and warrants multiple visits.

 

 

Vienna Marathon Experience.

On April 22nd the 35th Vienna marathon (link) event commenced over the weekend. Almost 42,000 runners participated in the event. The event included 10k, half marathon, full marathon and relay marathon races. Ever year, the event draws people from dozens and dozens of different countries and participates range from young to senior.

The race started outside the Vienna International Centre and proceeded to vine through the biggest sights of Vienna. Both the 21km (half marathon) and 42 km (full marathon) path provided a great scenic overview of the city best known landmarks, including Prater Park, Opera House, Karlplatz, Schönbrunn, etc. The finish line for all of the races was at the Rathaus. The event concluded with food / drink stands and live entertainment. Besides the 40,000+ participants, there were thousands of people cheering along the way. I was running the half marathon with a friend of mine and it was quite overwhelming to see so many people out on the streets in very hot weather supporting the runners.

 

The overall event was structured very well. The water stations and food were conveniently placed throughout the course. I feel that the course was rather difficult there was quite a long stretch of distance (8-9km) of climbing from 9th kilometre. My assessment of the difficulty of the course is skewed due to the hot weather conditions of the race. It was over 25 degrees without any clouds or wind. I highly recommend participating in this event. The race showcases the beautiful architecture of Vienna as well as the warm and welcoming spirit of its citizens!

Wheel Coffee – an interesting take on coffee.

Vienna is a city of coffee shops. There are hundreds and hundreds of different coffee shops throughout the city, excluding all the famous coffee shop chains. Every shop has a unique take on the concept, be it furniture, the state of the establishment, the type of coffee choices, the atmosphere, or the decor. It would take quite a long time to visit every single shop and truly experience each one.

I wanted to introduce you to a rather small establishment that is relatively new, only about a year old. The coffee shop is called Wheel Coffee (link) and is located at Siebensterngasse 16A, in the 7th district (map). It is rather small maybe with a few tables inside and a small outside presence. The big distinguishing mark of the decor are the two large rotating wheels on the wall. The wheels have various coffee presented to the customers.

Usually Wolfgang will offer you two choices of beans when you request a coffee. He will spend significant amount of time explaining to you the vast difference between the two types. His knowledge of the coffee can at times be overwhelming in a good way. Once you made a decision on the coffee he will proceed to offer you some cake. Usually for under 2 euros you can enjoy some sweet treat of the day. You will have to serve yourself and decide how much of the particular cake you want, as it is up to you to cut the size of the piece you want.

Besides coffee, the coffee shop offers many different coffee making machines and various coffee packets that work with the said machines. Once again you can pick Wolfgang’s brain for knowledge about the coffee machines offered at the shop. Depending on your needs he will find you the right machine for your establishment.

The hours of the shop are rather unusual, the shop opens at noon on Tuesday to Saturday. The reason for strange hours is simple. During the morning work rush, Woflgang is out on his bike making deliveries to his business clients. So if you find yourself in need of a coffee in a highly coffee house packed 7th district, do yourself a favor and stop by this hole in a wall coffee house. You will not be disappointed.

 

 

Standard Schönbrunn Experience

One of the biggest landmarks in Vienna is the Schönbrunn Palace. The palace is located in the western part of Vienna and accessible via U4 Ubahn (map). Millions of people visit it every year. You can tour the inside of the Palace, unfortunately you can not see all of the 1400+ rooms. However, you can get a pretty good picture of the Emperor’s apartments for his summer residence.

Once you finished the tour, you can enjoy the vast Schönbrunn Gardens. There are many different gardens that are sprinkled throughout the property. Most people head over to the Gloriette, to enjoy a beautiful view of the city and the Schönbrunn Palace.

If you want to continue exploring the gardens you will probably stumble on the oldest Zoo in Europe. The Zoo is adjacent to the gardens. In rather close proximity to the Zoo, there is another beautiful structure the Palmenhaus. Built around 1881/1882, the current green house holds three different pavilions with three different climate zones: a cold house in the north, a temperate in the middle and the tropical house in the south.

Donauinsel – running/biking paradise.

Vienna is one of the greenest cities in Europe. There are many different parks, plethora of green spaces and trees incorporated into the centuries old architecture design plans. If you head towards the outside districts of Vienna you will find yourself amidst the beautifully curated vineyards. However, if you are looking for a green space to exercise be it running, biking, rollerblading, canoeing or rowing, you head to the Donauinsel.

The Donauinsel is a long and narrow island, lying between the Danube river and the New Donabe. The island is about 21km long.  There are trails that circle the island that are perfect for a long bike ride or an adventure run. There are no cars, no stop lights, there is nothing to interrupt your activity. The island offers phenomenal infrastructure to enjoy whatever sport / activity (clearly marked bathrooms, etc)

On the east side of the island, there are bars, restaurants and nightclubs. The island is filled with greenery and has many secluded areas to take in the sun.  Getting to the island is easy, there are many bridge that go over the island with easy pedestrian and bike access points.  You can enter the island from both the west and the east side of the Danube.  There is also Ubahn access point via U1 on the Donauinsel station (map).

For runners, there are paved and non paved trails to explore.  For cyclists, the roads are relatively pot hole free.  The main issue for fast cyclists is the amount of people that share the roadways.  Occasionally you find yourself getting stuck behind people. So if you want a fast non stop cycling experience, I recommend coming during early morning hours.

There are beaches and bbq stations through the island. Please be aware, there is also a nudist beach. The FKK sign indicates the location, so do not be surprised if you come across the large sign.

Best 3 Euros to spend in Vienna!

One of the great landmarks of Vienna, is the State Opera House (map).   It is a world renowned institution that has been the pilar of the Austrian culture for over a century. The building is literally across the street from the DeutschAkademie. The classroom for my German A1.2 class happens to look out right at the Opera House, a very lovely view.

Unfortunately, if one wants to experience the phenomenal talent presented in this iconic building, one must spend rather large amount of money. Unless, you are okay with standing! The Opera house offers standing tickets for the people that want to experience the Opera, yet do not want to spend tremendous amount of money.  The prices for standing tickets are fixed at 3 euros for balcony and gallery (left and right) and 4 euros for the orchestra level area.  The prices are fixed regardless of the performance.

The tickets go on sale about 1 hour 20 minutes before the performance. The standing tickets entrance is a separate entrance on the side of the building. You can not order them online and you have to be in a special line to get them. You can only buy a ticket for yourself (aka no buying tickets other people).  The line starts a few hours before the ticket office even opens, so come early and be ready to wait. You can’t leave the queue or you will lose your place. There are people who make sure you can’t get back in line. There is a dress code, ladies must have skirts to the knee and gentlemen must have trousers. No flip flops, T-shirts are allowed, but you will be surrounded by people dressed in very nice attire, so be warned. 

Once you buy your ticket, head to the gallery side (probably the best area for viewing). Make sure you bring some sort of extra piece of clothing, usually a scarf. You use it to claim your standing spot, so you can explore the building and do not have to guard your spot the whole time.

The interior of the building is gorgeous and warrants exploration. Prior to the beginning of the performance, I recommend going to the top floor. There is access to the top terrance with a beautiful view of Vienna.  For less than a price of a coffee (1st district), one can enjoy one of the best Opera experiences in the world. Do not let this opportunity pass, even if you are in Vienna for a few days.

Sacher Torte – a must try!

Living in Vienna or being a tourist here, you will eventually hear about the Sacher Torte. A local delicacy that one must try upon your visit to Vienna. There are many places where one can enjoy this delicious treat. But if you are a perfectionist than you should go to the source, the Sacher Hotel. The Hotel is located just across the street from DeutschAkademie, behind the State Opera House (map).  The hotel has multiple venues where one can try the torte. There is a multi-story restaurant / shop on the corner Sacher Eck (map). Here you can also get the torte in various sizes to go, in a very functional wooden box. The sizes vary from 4 pieces to 12 pieces.

There is another restaurant Anna Sacher (map), the decor is a bit different from the standard red velvet.  Next, there is Café Sacher Wien (map). The Café specializes in sweets and coffee. You might see a line outside the hotel for this location, it is well worth it. If you have the sweet tooth this is the place to be, as the selection of sweets is greater than other locations. Last, there is Sacher Stube (map). All of these locations are practically next door. All of them serve the famous “Das Original Torte”.

Sacher torte is a specific type of chocolate cake, invented by Austrian Franz Sacher in 1832. It is hard to describe it, one must really try it to really know what it is. I prefer the Café Sacher, especially, if I am in a company of two or three people. For sweets, there is a fantastic creation in the Cafe, called the Tower. The tower has 4 different plates of sweets, including two pieces of the torte. It is designed for two people (can also be shared with 3) and costs 30 euro.

Only get the sweets tower if you are really hungry and your friends are hungry. There is a lot of food: pancakes, ice cream creations and of course the torte. Please make sure you order a nice coffee (cappuccino, etc) to accompany the cake. You will enjoy it so much more!