Tag Archives: austrian culture

Stroll through the Naschmarkt

Simply on the must see list, this place has everything you could imagine. Things like a huge flea market, farmers market, dried fruit and nuts, and restaurants. See this for a link to an Austrian website: Flohmarkt am Wiener Naschmarkt jeden Samstag ganzjährig

The market can be reached at the Karlsplatz and Kettenbruckengasse stops on the U4 line.

 

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Viennese Balls

Q. Does anyone know of a place where you can get information on ALL the balls in Vienna?  We’re trying to figure out what to go to, and I don’t know how or when to get tickets. (Posted 11/8/2012)

A. Search the Vienna tourism board’s website; this website is very comprehensive and is regularly updated to include information on current and near-term events. (Read our review of the tourism board’s website here.)

A. There is a ball calendar on www.austria.info.

A. http://ballguide.at/ The same people that maintain this website also put out a hard copy ball guide book each year that includes not only a comprehensive list of balls and dates, but also the dress code for each, where to buy/rent tuxedos and dresses for the balls, etc.

Grüass Di a Gott Wirt

Grüass Di a Gott Wirt is a restaurant and guest garden located in the Wienerwald either in the 19th district, or just outside it. It’s open every day except Monday and serves food throughout the day. The menu is smaller than those typically found at Austrian guest gardens, but the food is great and the servers are very friendly. The restaurant is dog- and kid-friendly, which is good because it’s the perfect beginning or ending point for an afternoon in the woods.

Right next to the restaurant, separated by a small walking path, is a good size playground that has swings, see saws, a sand box, soccer nets, and the typical climbing structure that includes a bridge, slide, and pole. You cannot see the playground from the restaurant’s guest garden, though, so parents would not be able to relax with a beer while the kids play as they could at other restaurant/guest gardens.

The aforementioned walking path is a marked path that leads you through the woods. We have not taken this path yet so I cannot comment with certainty on its length or difficulty, but I can say that at least the beginning looks easy enough that we plan to try it with our three- and four-year old one afternoon this spring. After filling up with delicious Austrian fare from Grüass Di a Gott Wirt, that is!

for more information:

  • Visit the restaurant’s website.

Bundesgestüt Piber

Bundesgestüt Piber, located 2 1/2 hours from Vienna in Köflach, Austria, is where the famous Lipizzanner horses are bred and raised. The stud is open to visitors every day of the year and there are guided tours (check the website for details, especially during the winter season). There is also the option of a self-led audio guide tour that details the history of the Lipizzanner breed, what life is like for the horses at Piber, and how they are selected for training at the Spanische Hofreitschule.

Beyond the history of the horses, there are also several displays where visitors can learn more about all things equine: a small indoor museum showcases carriages and farm equipment powered by horses, a display in the stables shows various equipment used by the grooms, and the farrier’s shed demonstrates the horse shoeing (a hit with my kids).

Of course, the highlight of the visit is seeing the horses themselves.

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Visitors are able to enter the stables to see the horses, and also peek into the windows of a nearby barn where the young horses begin the selection process for further training. While we were visiting, the mother horses and their offspring were corralled into a separate barn where the visitors could greet the horses and watch them interact with each other.

There is an adventure learning trail tailored to younger children to help them get more from their visit, and there are a couple playgrounds on the stud’s grounds. During the summer season there is a café that serves reasonably-priced meals.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  • Visit their website, or
  • “Like” Spanische Hofreitschule on Facebook for news about the horses and their activities.

St. Stephan’s Cathedral

St. Stephan’s Cathedral, aka Stephansdom, is the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Vienna and an important historical landmark. The cathedral is open for visitation throughout the day, but guided tours are only offered between services. The visitor can choose an all-inclusive tour (warning: the only English-language cathedral tour is Monday-Saturday at 10:3o), or can pick and choose which parts of the cathedral they want to see a la carte.

We visited the cathedral today and chose to do the tour of the catacombs (Euro 5 per adult) and climb to the top of the south tower (Euro 5 per adult). The catacomb tour was in both English and German, and handouts in additional languages were available at the beginning of the tour. The tour lasted about 30 minutes and shed some light on the more macabre parts of Vienna’s history: for example, visitors view a room where the walls are made of skeletal remains that were cleaned and stacked by inmates as part of their prison sentence.

Photography was not allowed during this tour, as the catacombs continue to be used primarily as a cemetery. The tour guide was very enthusiastic about the topic and was willing to answer any questions, so if you are shameless about asking questions (as I am) you can learn a lot beyond the canned spiel. The tour was well worth the price.

Next for us was the 343-stair climb to the top of the cathedral’s south tower. The staircase was very narrow (and two-way), made of stone, and spiraled the entire way to the top. I personally would not have attempted to do this climb with either my young children or parents, and it is definitely not handicap-accessible. (There is an elevator to the top of the bell tower, though, so stroller- or wheelchair-bound people can still get to the top of the cathedral.)

View from the top

View from the top

When you get to the top of the tower, you are rewarded with amazing panorama views of the city. There are signs over the windows orienting you to the compass points, and each window has a telescope to enhance viewing (Euro 0,50). There are also German-language signs that give additional history of the tower itself, as well as a somewhat tacky souvenir stand. Again, I thought this experience was well worth the price.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  • Visit the cathedral’s website for complete details of the guided tours.
  • Read the Wikipedia article on the cathedral for additional background on the building and its history.