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24 Hours in Vienna

After a two hours delay at the airport, I arrived in Vienna around midnight. I landed in a pitch-dark city; however, to my surprise, it was relatively warm. Vienna was usually colder than London, the kind of cold that bites. I was here on a work trip but couldn’t help but take advantage of what the city offered. I had less than twenty-four hours to achieve that. My last time in town was in 2016 when my friend lived here.

how to get there

Biritish Airways

I took the flight from London Heathrow to Vienna. We had a two hours delay in addition to a surprise gate change. But, I made it. 

where to stay

I booked my hotel stay through British Airways. I needed somewhere to stay for just a couple of nights, and I also needed it to be close to the venue where I had my meetings. 

aerial view of a city during sunset K+K Palais Hotel Vienna is a 4-star hotel located in the heart of Vienna, Austria, near the famous Ringstraße and many popular tourist attractions, such as St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Vienna State Opera, and the Hofburg Palace


where to eat

I woke up early for someone who arrived at midnight and headed to the old city for a coffee and, of course, a croissant. I am, after all, in Vienna, and rumours have it that the croissant was created to celebrate the defeat of Suleiman the Magnificent, the Ottoman Sultan. We now know it is just a rumour!

I chose to sit on the terrace of Zum Schwarzen Kameel because several locals sat outside under the heaters.
Kameel Restaurant is a historic restaurant located in Vienna, Austria. It is in the heart of the city's old town, just a few steps from the famous St. Stephen's Cathedral.

The restaurant's long and fascinating history dates back to 1618, when it was founded as a coffeehouse. Over the years, it has undergone numerous transformations and renovations, but it has always remained a beloved fixture of Viennese culinary culture.

Today, Kameel is known for its traditional Austrian cuisine, including hearty soups, schnitzel, goulash, and other classic dishes. It also offers a wide selection of fine wines, spirits, and delicious pastries and desserts.

One of the unique features of Kameel is its beautiful interior decorated in the style of a traditional Viennese coffeehouse. The walls are adorned with antique paintings and mirrors, and the furniture is crafted from rich woods and plush fabrics.

Café culture is integral to the Viennese culture and has a long and rich history in the city. The coffeehouse has been a central meeting place for Viennese society since the 18th century and has played an essential role in the city's social and cultural life.

Cafés in Vienna are more than places to grab a quick cup of coffee; they are social institutions that foster conversation, intellectual debate, and creativity. In a Viennese café, one can spend hours reading the newspaper, chatting with friends, or simply enjoying the atmosphere and people-watching.

A certain sense of elegance, refinement, and tradition characterizes Viennese café culture. It is also closely linked to the city's intellectual and artistic traditions. Many famous writers, artists, and intellectuals have frequented Viennese cafés for years, using them as a place to work, socialize, and exchange ideas.

Following in the footsteps of Viennese locals, without the intellectual conversation that came later during my meeting, I had my croissant and opted for the Melange coffee.

The Melange is a popular coffee drink in Vienna, Austria, and it has a rich history closely tied to the city's vibrant cafe culture. It is a coffee made with equal parts of espresso and steamed milk and served with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

The origins of the Melange can be traced back to the late 19th century when Viennese cafes became a popular gathering place for artists, intellectuals, and other members of the city's creative class. It caters to Viennese cafe-goers' tastes, who prefer their coffee to be strong, rich, smooth, and creamy. The combination of espresso and steamed milk provided the perfect balance of flavours, and whipped cream added an extra touch of indulgence and luxury.

At the end of our meeting, our host suggested we convene for lunch, and I was blunt enough to state that I was only taking part if they were serving Wiener Schnitzel! After all, I was in town for a mission; Viener schnitzel is part of it!






Restaurant Ofenloch

After a copious breakfast, I headed to Am Off Private Membership club for my meeting, which lasted till lunchtime. It was a vibrant intellectual discussion about sustainability and prosperity. Let's say the future doesn't look bright from where I stood.

Wiener schnitzel is a famous Austrian dish with a thin, breaded, pan-fried veal cutlet. The dish is traditionally served with potato salad, lingonberry jam, and a slice of lemon.

"Wiener schnitzel" literally means "Viennese schnitzel," indicating that the dish originates in Vienna, Austria. It is considered one of the national dishes of Austria and is also popular in other parts of Central Europe.

We headed to Restaurant Ofenloch. It is a historic restaurant in the heart of Vienna's old town, just a short walk from St. Stephen's Cathedral. The restaurant is in a 14th-century building that has been beautifully restored to preserve its original charm and character.
Restaurant Ofenloch features classic Austrian cuisine, focusing on hearty and traditional dishes like schnitzel, goulash, and Tafelspitz.
One of the unique features of Restaurant Ofenloch is its cosy and intimate atmosphere. The dining room is adorned with antique furnishings and soft lighting, creating a warm and inviting ambience perfect for romantic dinners, family gatherings, or business meetings.

I ordered my Wiener Schnitzel with a potato salad but not the lingonberry jam. My waiter was not happy when I substituted the jam with Ketchup! The portions were very generous. They offered to wrap the leftovers in a doggy bag, but this would have clashed with the second phase of my mission: Dessert.

Cafe Central

I crossed the street from the foundation and headed into an alley that led to Cafe Central, and yes! I stood in the queue waiting to get in.

Café Central is a historic coffeehouse located in Vienna, Austria. It was opened in 1876 and quickly became a popular meeting place for artists, intellectuals, and politicians.
Vienna in 1876 was a bustling imperial city and the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was a time of rapid growth and development, as the city's population steadily increased throughout the 19th century. In 1876, Vienna had around 800,000 people, making it one of the largest cities in Europe.

Vienna was also a cultural and artistic centre with a vibrant music and arts scene. The city was home to many famous composers, including Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss II, and Gustav Mahler, and was known for its grand music halls and theatres.

At the same time, Vienna was also a city of stark social contrasts. The wealth and luxury of the imperial court stood in sharp contrast to the poverty and squalor of the city's working-class neighbourhoods. The city also grappled with rapid industrialization and urbanization, leading to overcrowding, pollution, and other social and environmental problems.
Overall, Vienna in 1876 was a city of great contrasts and contradictions, with a rich cultural heritage and a rapidly changing social and economic landscape.

The café has a rich history, serving as a meeting place for famous figures such as Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, and Adolf Hitler. It was frequented by artists and writers associated with the Vienna Secession movement, such as Gustaf Klimt, the Austrian symbolist painter; Peter Altenber, the writer and poet; and Stefan Sweing, the novelist and playwright. It was also a centre of intellectual and cultural life in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century.

The interior of Cafe Central Vienna is both grand and inviting. It is located in a beautiful and historic building originally constructed in the 1870s, and the interior has been carefully restored to its original splendour.
The first thing visitors notice upon entering the cafe is the stunning vaulted ceiling, which is adorned with ornate chandeliers and decorative mouldings. The walls are decorated with richly patterned wallpaper and paintings by famous Austrian artists, and the floors are made of polished marble.
One of the most striking features of the interior is the large, circular counter that serves as the centrepiece of the cafe. This counter is made of dark wood and features an impressive array of pastries, cakes, and other treats on display.

I sat before this centrepiece and ordered a Sachertore and an Apfelstrudel.

The Sachertorte, or Sacher cake, is a famous Viennese chocolate cake that Franz Sacher invented in 1832. Sacher was a 16-year-old apprentice chef at the court of Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and he was tasked with creating a special dessert for a distinguished guest.
According to legend, Sacher had to improvise the recipe at the last minute when the head chef fell ill, and he came up with a rich chocolate cake filled with apricot jam and covered with a layer of chocolate ganache. The dessert was a hit and quickly became the prince's and his guests' favourite.
The recipe for the Sachertorte was eventually passed down to Sacher's son Eduard, who opened the Hotel Sacher in Vienna in 1876. The hotel became famous for its luxurious accommodations and fine dining, and the Sachertorte became its signature dessert.

On the other hand, the Apfelstrudel had an even older pedigree. Apfelstrudel, or apple strudel, is a traditional Viennese pastry with a sweet, flaky dough filled with spiced apples, raisins, and breadcrumbs. The pie is typically rolled into a long, thin shape and baked until golden brown and crispy on the outside, with a soft and tender filling on the inside.
The origins of apple strudel can be traced back to the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the 18th century when it was a popular dessert among the nobility and upper classes. The recipe was later passed down to the middle class, eventually becoming a staple of Viennese cuisine.
Today, apple strudel is enjoyed worldwide, and it is a popular dessert in many Austrian, German, and Central European restaurants and bakeries.

I was disappointed with the Sachertorte. I don't know why I thought it was moister. However, the Apple strudel did not disappoint; it hit the spot with the not-too-sweet apples, cinnamon, and crumbling crust.

After this afternoon spot, I can say that my mission in Vienna has been accomplished!


what to do

After such a lunch, I needed to walk off all those calories. So I returned to the city centre and walked into Kiki Kongelnik Foundation, where they were showing her artwork.

You can learn all about it in this

Viennese Ball

But my day has yet to be over. I still had one event to attend: the famous Viennese Ball!

The ball season in Vienna is a highly anticipated time of year, typically from late December to early March. It is a time when the city's famous ballrooms and palaces come alive with music, dancing, and glamour, and it is one of the highlights of Vienna's cultural calendar.
The ball tradition in Vienna dates back to the 18th century when aristocrats and members of the upper classes would gather for lavish parties and dances during the winter months. Today, the ball season in Vienna includes various events, from formal balls held in grand palaces to more casual dances held in hotels, community centres, and other venues throughout the city.
Attending a ball in Vienna is a formal affair, and guests are expected to dress elegantly and follow strict etiquette rules. This includes following a strict dress code, respecting the traditions of ballroom dance, and observing formal social customs such as the opening ceremony and the midnight Quadrille.
Overall, the ball season in Vienna is a unique and unforgettable experience, showcasing the city's rich cultural heritage and immersing visitors in the glamour and romance of a bygone era.

I had to play Cinderella and leave before the first stroke of midnight if I wanted to be at the airport on time for my seven AM flight.
Like my arrival, I left the city in pitch-black darkness, happy that I had achieved my targets in the city.
Next time I will make sure to visit the historical sights!

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