Magnificent isn't a word I use too often, because it's one of those words you don't use loosely, and even though I found myself saying my trip to Austria was magnificent when people asked, I still felt like that word is not enough to describe it. I truly felt like I left a piece of my heart there and anywhere I go after this trip, let's just say it'll be a tough act to follow for so many reasons.
The landscape & architecture - Impressive to say the least. Even down to the smallest details. Google "Austria's crosswalk lights". That'll be your feel good moment of the day.
The people - So kind and down to earth. They were always so helpful even when I was so rude. "Hello" in German is "Hallo", literally a one letter difference and I couldn't even remember to say that. Every Austrian who greeted us would say "Halloooo" and I'd say "Helloooo" like a jackass.
The food - F***** fantastic! I don't think I had one bad meal. I mean, I was hella swollen from all the salt in the schnitzel, weiners, goulash, etc., but that's what yoga pants are for. I brought one pair and my friend told me she never wanted to see them again after our trip.
The best food I ate was in Vienna because I got the 411 from Anthony Bourdain's Vienna episode of No Reservations before I left. The following is my list, and I'm sure many other bloggers list, of the Viennese must-eats.
Schnitzel - Figlmüller (Anthony ate here)
Let's start with my favourite place in Austria - Figlmüller. I was discussing with my family about how excited I was to try real schnitzel in Austria and they were all like, "you know it's just fetina* right". Incorrect. It's crispier and crunchier and the size of your friggin head! Figlmüller is "the home of the schnitzel" and there's two locations. First, there's Figlmüller Wollzeile, which is in a cute little alley and over 70 years old (Anthony ate at this specific location). The restaurant looks like a heritage site and a true experience. Then there's Figlmüller Wien, just around the corner and the exact same restaurant, but a little more modern and easier to get a table at (we clearly ate here).
One thing to note is the potato salad in the background of the below photo. It was the tastiest potato salad I've ever had and very different than American potato salad. American potato salad is mayo based and Austrian potato salad is white wine vinegar and mustard based. It's lighter and so delicious.
A second thing to note is most restaurants in Austria serve only one brand of beer and all of that brand's products. The radler at this place was so refreshing and delicious and turned my friend into a mild alcoholic for the rest of the trip.
*Fetina (fey-tea-nah) - Either chicken, veal or another type of meat, pan fried in an egg, parmiggiano and breadcrumb mixture.
Viennese Coffee - Cafe Aida
Apparently there's 13 types of Viennese coffee and I literally don't care why it's so special and different than regular coffee, I tried reading about it and lost interest real quick. I'm not a coffee drinker because I'm not fond of the taste, I just enjoy the experience of drinking it. But there is a famous cafe chain in Vienna called Cafe Aida and it's super insta-worthy because it's all pink! Again, I'm not the right person to judge the coffee because I shot it back considering I had been awake for over 24 hours at that point, but it did it's job and woke me up.
Würstelstand (Anthony ate here)
Würstelstand is pretty much the German word for "sausage stand"and there's many different kinds all over the city. We ate at Bitzinger and this weiner really hit my t-spot* in so many ways. The bread was soft, the weiner was filled with cheese and they smothered it with homemade ketchup and dijon mustard. One thing that amazed me was how they put the weiner in the bun. Instead of cutting the bun down the side and opening it, they insert a metal rod through the centre of the bun without going all the way through. Then they remove the metal rod and place the weiner in the hole that it made, along with the sauces. This is so the weiner and sauces don't drip/fall out. This all sounds very sexual but I truly don't know another way to say it.
*T-Spot - Taste spot.
Sachertorte was created in the Cafe of Hotel Sacher and it became a famous Austrian dessert. It is a rich chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam in the centre. People have their version of the Sachertorte but you can buy the real deal all around Austria without going to Cafe Sacher (including the airport). Eating at Cafe Sacher is an experience because of the beautiful interior and high-end service.
Like Cafe Sacher, Cafe Central is a landmark cafe in Vienna with an elaborate interior and exterior. It was conveniently located right next to our hotel, so we saw when it got the busiest, and the lineups get long. The answer is lunch seems the busiest so we went for breakfast one morning and it's delicious! They have little intricate deserts showcased in glass cases but note that they serve hearty dishes.
Mozartkugel is the famous chocolate that was created and dedicated to Austria's pride and joy - composer Mozart. It has a marzipan centre, with a dark and light praline layer, all coated in rich dark chocolate. Apparently there are 21 different types/brands of Mozartkugel that make the chocolate in their own special way. The big brand we were seeing everywhere was Mirabell, however, the best Mozartkugel I ate was the brand Hofbauer (below) because it had extra marzipan in it. We actually only found Hofbauer in Salzburg, which is a place that is more Mozart heavy than Vienna since he was born and lived there. I did eat Mozartkugel gelato in Vienna and it was delicious!
Goulash - Ilona Stuberl
Ilona Stuberl is a very quaint and authentic restaurant serving authentic Austrian dishes, as well as authentic Hungarian goulash, and that is what you need to try here. This meal was fantastic and I was very swollen afterwards. They serve pork, veal and beef goulash with different sides like teeny tiny gnocchi and tarhonya. I wanted to feel a little better about myself so I ordered a side of sauerkraut with the hopes it would help with my digestion. I don't know who I was kidding because I couldn't breathe after this meal and insisted on getting gelato anyways so that was shot to hell. The sauerkraut here (in the background of the below photo) was so flavourful and an amazing first impression for my friend who had never eaten it before. I highly highly recommend this place.
Before our meal, we took a shot of apricot schnapps, a very popular liquor in Austria. It was smooth and delicious and went straight to my head. The Zipfer radler served at this place (in the below photo) was another radler we tried and loved.
Naschmarkt (Anthony ate here)
This is a very famous marketplace made up of different types of food vendors, restaurants, and souvenir shops. One thing I noticed was there were an ABUNDANCE of spices and t-shirts that said "Austria - there are no kangaroos here". Apparently people with two brain cells mistake Austria for Australia. This is definitely a cool place to walk through and munch - or Nasch ;) ;) ;).