„The last few weeks have been full of appointments, meetings and sessions. So I’m looking forward to three days of a change of scenery in Vienna together with designer Gabriele Frantzen. We want to work and enjoy ourselves in a relaxed atmosphere.” Angela Barzen, Founder of Business Wellbeing
We decide to travel by train and take the 6 o’clock variant so that we spend as much time as possible in Vienna. It’s only four hours from Munich to Vienna. We use the time to work and are surprised that the Wi-Fi connection lasts for the entire journey. Time passes quickly and we arrive in Vienna on time. Unfortunately, we were not so lucky on our return journey, the train was broken and the journey takes two hours longer than planned. So, travelling by train is comfortable and working is really good, but you also need a good portion of patience in your luggage.
We spend two nights in the Austrian capital, in two different hotels. The first night we stayed at the Hilton Vienna Park – a huge white box, completely renovated in the style of Viennese modernism. It is immediately obvious: it is a congress hotel, specialised in large events. The reception at the hotel is professional, but not personal. This is certainly due to the enormous size: 660 rooms on nine floors, two huge ballrooms for 800 people each, eleven large meeting rooms. After the congresses, a fitness area is available for relaxation. This is functional, and there are many different pieces of sports equipment in a relatively small space.
If you are expecting a cosy Viennese hotel, you are wrong here – it is a perfect business hotel with all the amenities you would expect in a Hilton.
Shops, coffee houses, horses
On the second day we move to the Hilton Vienna Plaza. It is the cosier hotel with more of a family atmosphere and ideal remote-work possibilities: large rooms, desk, a breakfast that caters for all tastes from hearty to fresh fruit, muesli, freshly prepared egg dishes.
We want to conquer Vienna on foot from here and are already in the inner city in ten to 20 minutes. Strolling through, we discover numerous small shops, from the old papeterie Herzilein in Tivoligasse to chocolate shops, decoration shops…. the flair of the personally run small speciality shops is still alive here.
As horse fans, we are drawn to the Spanish Riding School. In pleasant lunchtime, there is a guided tour here in very small groups and many exciting stories. Did you know, for example, that there are only stallions there and that they all have female names? The best and most talented stallion at the moment is called Gitti. But it is worth asking for more. The staff there are happy about honest interest.
What we associate with Vienna is the coffee house. And there’s no getting around the Schwarzer Kameel, the traditional café and restaurant at Bognergasse 5. This is where Viennese personalities and people who enjoy socialising meet. Waiter Martin – an institution. If you chat with him a bit, you have a good chance of getting a table. Inside, get a plate of delicious canapés with different spreads, e.g. lentil with salmon, and sit down on the heated and covered terrace, whatever the weather. But you can also meet real Viennese at the large bar inside.
Admitted to the Schnitzel
Viennese charm – it still exists. A bit of “Goschat”, cheeky, the heart on the tongue, always up for a short chat. And that’s how the doors open in Vienna.
Also at the Figlmüller – the home of the schnitzel, Wollzeile 5. Here you can get the most famous schnitzel in the world with truly amazing size. The Figlmüller is an institution and if you call, you will most likely hear: “No chance, we are completely booked”. Just go by the place, have a little chat with the waiters at the door, and with charm and a little luck you’ll get a table for the same day or the next. Here, the personal impression you make decides whether you are admitted to the Schnitzel experience.
Fancy a dessert? Then head to Demel for an Kaiserschmarrn. Even Empress Sissi ate her Kaiserschmarrn here. As you pass by, you see the chef preparing Kaiserschmarrn in huge pans, and you can’t help it – your mouth is watering. Table reservations are not possible. So be prepared for a wait outside the door. Ideally at 1pm, that’s when the queue in front of the door is shortest.
We were somewhat disappointed by the Naschmarkt. The last time I was there was ten years ago. In my memory it was a market with Austrian delicacies and small restaurants with market flair. Unfortunately, today it is a mixed bag of oriental traders. Viennese specialities or stall owners are rarely to be found anymore.
Look & coffee
Vienna has a lot to offer in terms of exhibitions. If you want to avoid long queues, it’s best to start at 10 am at the famous Albertina – from Monet to Picasso to alternating young artists such as Basquiat.
And then, directly opposite, the Heidi Horten exhibition LOOK. All the works and also the presented haute couture Gaultier, Yves Saint Laurent etc. here belonged to the art patron Heidi Horten, who planned and realised this exhibition together with her art advisor and confidante Agnes Husslein over the last three years. If you are lucky, you will meet Agnes Husslein during her visit and she will tell you exciting stories. Heidi Horten herself wanted to witness the opening in person and was there; she died three days later.
When your head is full of impressions, head to the Ferstel Palais to CaffèCouture for a really good coffee.
Angela Barzen …
loves to stroll through Vienna’s old streets after long meetings and experience open-minded people who invite you to chat. For her, Vienna is the perfect city to combine business and leisure.