ienna, the City of Dreams. No other city in the world merits the term “imperial” as much as Vienna. Filled with palaces, magnificent squares, grand boulevards, art and music, this was the capital from which the Habsburgs ruled their empire for 640 years. And if you’ve got a mind to explore those riches there’s a 4-star vacation ownership resort right in the center of it all just waiting for you!
First let’s take a brief look at why Vienna should excite your senses.
Unlike the rulers of most nations, the Habsburgs preferred to expand their territories through marriage rather than war. The famed Emperor Maximilian even coined a famous maxim: “Let others wage war, you, happy Austria, marry!” (“Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria nube”), which became the catchword for an entire dynasty. So they had plenty of time and money to concentrate on improving the city’s intellectual and cultural life.
The Habsburg empire is now part of history, lost to us since World War I, but its magic lives on in Vienna. Over the years this magnificent Austrian city has been graced with the presence and compositions of the world’s greatest musicians. Grand opera houses and concert venues are even now indelibly intertwined into the city landscape and the public conscience. Though its once-robust political importance has faded, its famed artistic expression, developed over centuries, has survived. In architecture, you can stroll through the past among elegant Art Nouveau, opulent Baroque and picturesque Biedermeier styles while the newly developing skyline of the city on the blue river offers a view of the future. There are winter and summer palaces, imposing monuments, wide tree-lined boulevards and unexpected architectural gems interwoven with elegant gardens, woodland parks and fountains everywhere you look.
There is a great deal to see and do on a visit to Vienna, so this is not one of those places where you go to laze your days away in a hammock. Bring both your walking shoes and your best clothes if you want to fully immerse yourself.
Vienna’s inner city is surrounded by a great, wide boulevard known as the Ringstrasse, or “the Ring”, a portion of which you can see in the photo above right. Along the Ring you’ll find lovely parks and public gardens to enjoy as well as museums, palaces and other wonders. Excellent shopping opportunities abound around Mariahilferstrasse, Kärntnerstrasse, Graben, and Kohlmarkt. The flea market at the Kettenbrückengasse underground station every Saturday is a shopping heaven for curio collectors and souvenir hunters. There’s a busy night life in the pedestrian zones around Stephansplatz until the early morning hours. No problem finding a nice streetside café or good entertainment in one of the many side streets. After dark, Vienna offers diverse nightlife, from its Casino Wien and formal-dress discos to laid-back bars and wine cellars catering to fans of folk music.
And the importance of the Viennese coffee house (German: Wiener Kaffeehaus) should not be underestimated. Since October 2011 the “Viennese Coffee House Culture” is listed as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in the Austrian inventory of the “National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage”, a part of UNESCO. The Viennese coffee house is described in this inventory as a place “where time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.”
Coffee making has evolved into a fine art since it was first introduced during the Turkish invasion during the late 17th century, and perhaps only France is more famous for its sidewalk cafes and coffee houses. Try mokka (black), mélange (with frothed milk), Fiaker (with rum or brandy), or Einspänner (with whipped cream).While you’re at it, surrender to the temptation of a voluptuously rich Viennese pastry. Viennese cuisine is famous and much loved for its variety of sweets; it is, in fact, parent to the famed Danish pastries which use the Viennese recipe for the unique “bread”. Whether hot or cold, as a starter or dessert: enjoy the sweeter side of Vienna!
One of the hottest tourist attractions is a performance of the Lipizzaners, those famous White Stallions, at the Spanish Riding School– the oldest and last Riding School in the world where classic dressage is still practised in its purest form. This Institute was founded in 1572. The superb arena – the Winter Riding School in the Vienna Hofburg (Imperial Palace) in which the Riders of the Spanish Riding School train the horses and where they perform was commissioned by Emperor Karl VI. Since 1920 the presentations of classical dressage have been open to the public, but they are extremely popular and you must reserve a spot in advance.
On Sundays and Holidays, the famed Vienna Boys’ Choir performs at the Chapel of the Imperial Palace. Vienna also sports an old-fashioned leisurely mode of transportation worthy of an emperor: a ride in a horse-drawn carriage, a Fiaker, loved by Viennese and tourists alike. And of course there are concerts, opera, theater, galleries, museums– after an enchanted evening you can waltz beside the Danube River to the beat of Strauss still playing in your head.
How to see everything without spending a fortune on transportation and admissions? The Vienna Card serves as a key to the city, providing unlimited free access to all public transportation (subways, streetcars, busses) for a period of 72 or 48 hours. But that isn’t all: it also serves as a discount card that entitles the holder to certain benefits at most museums; it is honored at a number of shops offering a vast array of traditional Viennese products and may be used in some restaurants and cafés. More than one hundred establishments participate in the program. Whether or not the card is worth the price may depend on your schedule and whether or not you intend to use it for discounts at participating museums, etc. Also keep in mind that the timeshare resort recommended in this report is centrally located and many sights are within walking distance so that you won’t need to use public transport very often. TripAdvisor has a rundown on the issue that you might find helpful.
Situated directly next to the Theater in der Josefstadt, the Interval International-affiliated Select Resort, 4-Star Cordial Theaterhotel Wien is close to the famous Ringstrasse, putting you within easy reach of the city’s heart. Sights such as parliament, Hofburg, St. Stephan’s Cathedral, and numerous museums are not to be missed.
Just like Vienna itself, the resort offers a charming combination of modern comfort, warmth, and coziness, with a traditional flair. The hotel offers 54 comfortable and elegant efficiency studios, 1- and 2-bedroom suites and the highest level of comfort. All rooms are equipped with bathroom/WC, hair dryer, mini-bar, cable-TV, radio, direct line telephone, PLUG & SURF Internet-Connection and a kitchenette.
Amenities include: Breakfast Restaurant “Barcarole”; Bar “Belcanto”; Coffee bar “Intermezzo”; Meeting rooms; Sauna and solarium; Massage & beauty treatments on request; WLAN Internet; Business corner; Garage nearby (not free of charge).
The truth is, though, that as welcoming and wonderful as this resort is you are unlikely to spend very much time in it. It’s simply too close to some of the world’s most magnificent sights to burrow into its comforts and ignore what is outside.
All the main monuments and places of the city centre are located just a few minutes walk from the resort, such as Stephansdom and the Ringstrasse with all its splendid buildings. Furthermore, for those who want to visit the splendid Schönbrunn castle, they can easily reach it and other wonders via the underground or by bus.
So whether you visit for a week or a weekend, for leisurely strolls in parks and gardens, shopping trips along enchanting streets, mornings at the coffee houses, a chance to visit Vienna’s amazing Christmas Markets in the winter time or a whirlwind tour of one of Europe’s most amazing cities, Vienna is one of the world’s cities that must be visited, and Cordial Theaterhotel Wien is one of the resorts not to be missed.
Some Web sites to explore for more information:
http://www.cordial.at/en/ferienclub/ –CORDIAL Holiday Club
http://www.wien.info/en –Vienna Tourist Board
http://www.vienna.at/ –Everything (in German)
http://www.aboutvienna.org/ –City Guide
http://www.spanishridingschool.com/ –The Spanish Riding School of Vienna
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1033 –The Historic Centre of Vienna, Unesco World Heritage
http://www.vienna.cc/english/WienBilderEnglishGruppe%20ringstrasse.htm — Pictures of Vienna
-compiled by InsideTheGate.com staff
“On the Road” is a compilation of destination ideas, resort reviews, videos and more gathered from a variety of sources that includes our readers.
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