I could probably dedicate a month’s worth of articles to the cafes that surround Vienna. Shots of espresso, foamy cappuccinos, and sugary confections to accompany are what each coffee house offers. Add the fact that these places are connected by the gorgeous city backdrop of Vienna and it’s easy to see why lingering inside is much more appealing than going straight home. It has been one week, but feels like a month, since my husband and I returned from Vienna. It was our first international destination together so the likelihood of jet-lagged arguments was pretty high, but our Austrian excursion didn’t involve one tear or one tiff. Instead, leisurely work free mornings were followed by cappuccinos, which led into museums in the afternoon, small bites in nearby cafes, dinners in hidden places, and drinks on local bar patios. This was a trip to remember and one that led to many discoveries that I have documented and will continue to relive over the years.
The trip was centered around an apartment in the seventh district of Vienna. Our little haven was Neubau, the fashion forward center for young families and students. It is just far enough from the tourist-centric hub to give you a taste of real life in Vienna with elementary school kids walking to class, boutique owners managing their artisan goods, tiny florists wrapping bouquets for workers heading home, and farm to table restaurants that only hint at the schnitzel associated with the region. It’s a large group of streets, but each day we would venture down another block eventually leading back to the places we came to love. Neubau is a skinny stretch that hosts one of the top shopping streets as well as winding streets of small cafes, furniture stores, vintage shops, as well as high end boutiques like the concept store Park. The end to the east presents Museums Quirtier, the area’s biggest collection of major museums, including MUMOK, a heavy grey tiled building that exhibits exceptional international artists. As an added bonus the museum campus has an old fashioned black and white photobooth that printed one of the best strips I’ve seen.
Shopping and eating played a major role in this trip, as all vacations tend to do, but this area was full of local eateries and cafes that didn’t have the fast paced feeling of those in the city center. Up the street from our apartment was Ice Dream Factory, an eclectic bakery that looked as if it was transplanted from Newport Beach, but retained a distinctly European vibe. Needless to say, this was also a walking trip so our daily adventures spanned many streets and U-bahn trips. Along Burggasse you can find the small ceramic studio of Renate Hattinger where she has tiny trinkets on display like a gold glazed brain box, slender cups rimmed with more gold, and beautifully whimsical necklaces shaped as peanuts. Venturing south towards Lindengasse takes you to Printa, a modern store with screen printed posters, design driven stuffed animals, and a curated selection of clothes, stop by Figar along the way for a melange and a late morning breakfast. Closer to our apartment we happened upon Victus und Mili which was a tiny restaurant with an exposed kitchen that served fresh homestyle food cooked with love by the always inspired chef. We found ourselves there a few nights with a pint of beer, glass of wine, and their homemade apple cake.
To say there was a shortage of adorable and well-curated boutiques in Neaubau is like claiming you can’t find coffee in Vienna. I nearly killed my husband walking back and forth from one store to the next, but he was a good sport and loved every step. Sous-Bois is a store that could put any office to shame and make a minimal design enthusiast a dedicated patron. Their tiny white walled shop housed pristine arranged folders, pencils, binders, scissors, and more all in neutral or shockingly bright colors. Since I obviously didn’t get enough sugar on the trip, a quick walk down the street from the boutique led to the ice cream shop Veganista, which was yet another farm fresh eatery packed with locals getting scoops and cones of flavors like fresh almond, poppy-seed, and cookies. The store has a large door the opens right to the street, enticing passer by’s with their subtle glow behind the ice cream case. One evening, after a rather fancy visit to the philharmonic, we headed to Ulrich on the walk home. Their long patio with white tables and pastel seats lead into a lower restaurant that was bustling with groups of friends chatting over beer, a fresh take on Viennese staples like wild boar schnitzel, and small bites like cauliflower gratin, carrots with rose water dressing, and radish and quinoa salad. My husband knew I would love the place right after reading quinoa on the menu.
The days filled with discovering our temporary neighborhood could not have been more idyllic. Waking up in our own Viennese flat, snacking on a simple breakfast of cured meats and warm bread, ordering afternoon coffee in one of the only German phrases I could force out, then ending the night at a small restaurant were things we would have never found in a tour guide. These are the moments that will remind me of our trip, that first international destination together, the one where we discovered Neubau, was a pretty perfect way to start our travels.