Vienna - Imperial City

Vienna, seat of the Hapsburgs, and home to a huge number of well-preserved Baroque and Victorian buildings. Walking down the streets in the city center, you can't tell whether it's 2009 or 1839.

Demel Cafe, Vienna, Austria
Demel Cafe, one of the bastions of the Vienna coffeehouse scene. It has a famed rivalry with Hotel Sacher over who invented the Sacher Torte, a rich chocolate cake full of awesomeness. All I'll say is that we ate at Hotel Sacher twice, and Demel once.

St Stephen's Church at night, Vienna, Austria
St. Stephen's in the center of Vienna. (No relation to the Hungarian Stephen.) (Also no mummified parts in funnily named chapels.)

Courtyard of imperial palace, Vienna, Austria
A gate at the Imperial Palace in Vienna. This gigantic palace complex was continually expanded by the Hapsburg emperors over many years. These days it's home to a large number of museums and the famed Spanish Riding School and its Lipizzaner horses.

Crown Jewels, Vienna, Austria
We went into the Imperial Treasury museum. Lots of gold and jewels. Also, absolutely no information in English. If you don't speak German, I recommend the audio guide.

Golden Ewer, Vienna, Austria
The golden ewer that King What's-his-face used to wash himself.

Reliquary containing a saint's bone, Vienna, Austria
The treasury also contains a huge collection of reliquaries. Reliquary being the polite term for a vessel holding a chunk of long dead saints. Look closely at the center and you'll see a nice chunk of shinbone.

Lipizzaner Horses, Vienna, Austria
Some of the Lipizzaner horses hanging out between shows.

View from tower of St Stephens, Vienna, Austria
We went down to Stephansdom, the main cathedral, and climbed up one of it's towers. For only several Euros you can too can climb 343 spiral steps to get a view of Vienna. Our view was mainly of rain clouds, but we did enjoy the gift shop at the top with the snoring attendant. Vienna always wants to sell you something. It was by far the most expensive of the three cities. Pretty much nothing was free.

Model of St Stephen's, Vienna, Austria
Michele goes all Godzilla on a model of the cathedral.

Tower of St Stephen's, Vienna, Austria
Looking up at the tower we climbed. Construction scaffolding discretely edited out.

St Stephen's interior, Vienna, Austria
Interior of St. Stephen's.

St Stephen's Facade, Vienna, Austria
Exterior of the church. Look closely or you'll miss the fact that the entire left side of the building is covered in a scaffolding hidden behind an image of what the facade should look like. It took about three times walking by before I actually noticed.

Imperial Palace, Vienna, Austria
One of many, many views of the Imperial Palace. We went in this entrance to go to the Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments. Or, as I like to call it, the World's Largest Collection of Stupid Plates. Empress Sisi was the wife of Franz Joseph, beloved by many, understood by few.

Imperial Duck Press, Vienna, Austria
Sisi had a rather peculiar diet. This contraption was the highlight of the museum for me. It's called a duck press. Designed by the French for squeezing every last bit of sauce potential out of a duck, Sisi liked it because she had a fondness for drinking raw meat juice instead of eating.

The Austrian Imperial Place Setting, Vienna, Austria
There it is. The famed Imperial Napkin Fold, one of the most important state secrets of Austria. Only two people in the world know how to fold a napkin like this. They each pass it down to the next generation before they die. I'm pretty sure this napkin made an appearance in every museum we went to. Exciting.

Imperial Centerpiece, Vienna, Austria
One of the many overly ornate and extremely long centerpieces available for royal dining. Luckily we have thousands of slightly different plates we could use. Just make sure the napkin folders don't get their heads stuck in a duck press.

More (exciting) things to come in the second Vienna set.

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