Monday, February 1, 2010

Winter in Wien

This is my second trip to the capital of Austria, the first being in summer and this time round, in winter.

The cold temperature would have been bearable if not for the harsh wind throughout the day with its relentless assault on our faces no matter where we turn.

Surface of Donau Canal frozen

Fortunately, the inner city (innere stadt) is lined with rows upon rows of shops, restaurants, cafés and historical landmarks where we were able to hop in from time to time and warm our pink-frosted cheeks and noses.

We managed to visit a couple of museums within a day but it was just a pity that photography was not allowed in all of them. Nevertheless, at the Kunst Haus Wien - Hundertwasser Museum, we managed to take some 'legal' photographs as well as to sneak a few discrete clicks here and there. This is a building designed by a famous Austrian artist - Friedensreich Hundertwasser - who has a somewhat unique style of utilising strong colours and contrasts. Straight lines are a definite big No-No to him! The norms are no longer the norms once you enter the building: floorings are uneven, stair steps are curved and trees grow out of windows! How nice would it be if he were to design schools where the creativities of children are allowed to flourish instead of being bounded by the so-called norms.

There was even a detailed plan to transform a big plot of land into what looked like TeleTubbies Land to me! Unfortunately, it was never realised and what remained today is a mini-scale version of the original plan.

Even on the streets, there are no lack of historical statues and landmarks everywhere.

A delightful sight in the midst of the busy pedestrain street would be the Maroni stands.

"Heisse maroni anyone!?!"

Inevitably, food is naturally at the top of my priority list. With the recommendation from Lonely Planet, we made our way through a small alley in search of La Crêperie - a restaurant that sells both sweet and savoury crêpes. Only when we were standing outside the restaurant, did we realised that it's a Georgian-themed restaurant. It used to be part of the former Soviet Union and to be honest, I never even thought that I'll get the chance to eat Georgian food until this chance encounter. So how cool is that! :)

Vegetarian savoury crêpe

Savoury crêpe with minced meat - taste alot like lasagne, only better and less cheesy

When in Wien, it is almost a sin if one doesn't patronize at least one of the numerous cafés for their famous Sacher Torte. Amongst these cafés, only two claimed to hold the original recipe for the Austrian speciality cake - Hotel Sacher and Demel.

Having had tasted the version from Hotel Sacher previously and not being "wowed" at all, we proceeded to taste the other version from Demel.

The cake tasted drier with no apricot jam in-between the chocolate sponge cake layer and the dark chocolate icing over the cake was less sweet too (which suits me perfectly fine). Similarly, I wasn't blown off by the cake and it doesn't taste that special either. Nevertheless, my vote would have to go to the Demel version should I have to choose one. However, after considering the prices charged at Demel, I guess I wouldn't mind going to just any café if ever the Sacher Torte craving kicks in.

Demel Sacher Torte

Dark chocolate cake with liquor @ Demel - tastes much better than the Demel Sacher Torte

Interesting for me would be the see-through baking kitchen which offers a view as to how the cakes were made. The other highlight for me would be the Demel shop where there are lots of chocolates as well as cakes on sale. However, for the exorbitant prices charged, I guess I'm equally happy to take off with just a few clicks of my camera where the images are permanently preserved for my viewing pleasure rather than temporary stored in my stomach.

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