Today was our last day in Vienna. We’re heading home on the train tomorrow at 9:30am. The connection in Salzburg will be tight; there are only 8 minutes to switch trains, so let’s hope the train from Vienna isn’t delayed. It’s been a great trip.
We set out this morning to take a look at Rochusmarkt, a local farmer’s market in Vienna. I immediately noticed how much warmer it was today – 9 degrees! Along the way, we got off the subway to try to look inside of Karlskirche. Sadly, it seemed to be closed on all sides, except for the paid visits to the look-out tower. I would have liked to take a look inside but maybe they reserve it for people who are paying to go to the concerts. Still, I took another good look at the façade and noticed some details I hadn’t seen before.
We continued on to the Rochusmarkt, which didn’t turn out to be too exciting. We’ve noticed the local markets in Vienna seem to have a lot of chain snack shops, probably a result of high costs for booths. I wanted some Christmas cookies but the prices were highway robbery, so I guess we didn’t do our part to ensure their survival. We moved on, in search of lunch.
We had decided on Cafe Francais. We walked by it a few days ago and Jelena read up on it, finding only high praise and great reviews. We weren’t disappointed. While Jelena was unsure whether her salad would be enough, I decided to go for the club sandwich, a straightforward and solid choice at any restaurant. The plates arrived and we were shocked. The club sandwich could feed two and the salad was an entire meal. This is a cafe that you can imagine normal people going to. The prices were alright and it’s across from the university. Indeed, most tables were occupied by students.
I wouldn’t rate the food as exquisite but that wasn’t the point. Cafe Francais is a solid choice, good food for a normal price. I wouldn’t go to Cafe Central every day but Cafe Francais is somewhere you could easily frequent. Before we sat down, the waitress looked rather worried and informed us that we could only have the table until 3pm. We were worried until we checked the time, seeing it was only 1pm. A paltry two hours is nothing in the Viennese cafe culture but we were only there for lunch, so it was more than enough!
With time to spare, we decided to keep the cafe train rolling and made for the exit. First we decided to peek inside the Votivkirche. We’ve seen it on days past and I wanted a closer look, since we liked the neo-Gothic architecture. There are nice stained glass windows on the inside, as you’d expect from a beautiful, old European church. We helped ourselves to an odd Geocache across the street, my first and only Austrian Geocache. This one was “hidden” underneath the telephone in a phone booth. Jelena discovered it but we decided not to sign the “log”, since we’d have had to lie on the ground in broad daylight and appear to deface a phone booth.
The next cafes
We made our way through the Rathausplatz Christmas market again, on the way to check out Cafe Landtmann. It was still complete chaos, so we kept moving toward Cafe Hawelka but we ended up skipping that for another known favourite, Cafe Tirolerhof. We knew that one was great and hoped it would be less hectic.
We’ve noticed the number of people in Vienna has steadily increased over the week and today was definitely the peak. There were people everywhere on the streets and Tirolerhof was no exception. No sooner had we made it through the door when hordes of tourists came in behind us, pushing past and looking for available seats. Luckily, a nice couple was just leaving from, perhaps, the best table in the whole place, and kindly offered it to us.
Kaiserschmarrn made an encore, alongside tea and coffee, as we relaxed into our now daily tradition. Unfortunately, the Internet connection is not so great in Tirolerhof, so I was forced to play Crusader Kings II, a cool historical strategy game about European conquest. You can imagine I was pretty upset. Jelena read her papers as usual. We talked a little politics as well.
When it was time for us to go, I noticed a couple was just discovering the saddest looking and only available table. I saw the chance to balance our karma and quickly pulled them over to our table, returning the favour that was bestowed upon us when we arrived. They were very grateful. I really think it was the best table!
One last Christmas market
Jelena saw a bowl she was interested in when we were at the Schönbrunn Christmas market, so we planned to finish off the evening by seeing that market at night. I’m really glad we did. It was really beautiful at night, with all the lights and the tree.
But the best part was that they had a live choir, singing Christmas songs! I need to educate Jelena on Christmas songs but I guess she didn’t grow up with them and can’t have the same appreciation. Still, we could both appreciate the ambient sound of a live choir singing as we browsed the market. It was a great way to cap off our trip, Vienna being known for its music.
You can view my Schloss Schönbrunn Christmas market live choir video on the Travel to Live Google Plus account! I couldn’t upload it on WordPress because you need a premium account. Sorry about the shaking.
Well, we’re just eating a late night snack and then packing up to head home. What a delicious and wonderful trip. Only one last gorging remains – my birthday is on Sunday! Then it’s time to bring the diet under control.
(just kidding – then it’s Christmas cookie baking season)