Travel Diary: Vienna, Once More (Coffeehouses & Shopping)

Welcome to the second part of my Vienna travel diary! You can find the first part here and the post with my initial plans for this trip here. This post is about cake, second hand shopping and two huge splurges!

LET ME HAVE CAKE

If you visit Vienna, you obviously have to go to the coffeehouses, and also eat a lot of cake. (Not healthy, but worth it!) After wandering through the Weltmuseum for two hours, I sat down at their museum café and ordered a Wiener Melange and the Franz Joseph cake. I usually order Melange when in Vienna because it’s an Austrian specialty. It’s one eighth espresso, one eighth foamed milk, with the rest of the cup filled up with milk froth. While that sounds like a cappuccino, the latter has typically more milk froth, while the former is made with a milder sort of coffee.

I really wanted to go to the re-opened Café Central, but when we arrived there was a queue in front of the door. After standing in line at the Imperial Apartments that morning already, I was kind of over it and decided to get my coffee elsewhere. I really want to go there at some point though, because it was one of the most important meeting places of the intellectual life in Vienna in the 19th century. Sigmund Freud, Franz Kafka and Stefan Zweig are only some example of famous regular guests in the Café Central!

Instead we went to the Hawelka, my favourite Viennese coffeehouse, for Melange and (in my case) Eszterházy cake. Its made of cognac buttercream in-between a few layers of almond meringue dough. The icing is a fondant glaze that is decorated with a chocolate striped pattern. Phil had apple Strudel. Unfortunately, the coffeehouse was crowded because it was Saturday noon, to the point where we both felt uncomfortable. (I’ve been there during the week before, and it’s definitely quieter then.)

Across the street from our hotel in Alsergrund was the Café Monarchie. It had hilariously kitschy wall murals featuring Emperor Franz Joseph – I loved it so much, haha! It was also significantly cheaper than anything in the city centre, with Schnitzel for about 9€. I didn’t eat there, though, so I can’t say for sure if the food is any good.

LET’S GO SHOPPING!

I gotta admit I did some damage shopping-wise on this Vienna trip! I’m still getting used to the fact that my budget has increased somewhat, and that I can buy pretty stuff even if I don’t necessarily need it. Since I’ve spent my many previous visits in Vienna coveting beautiful but expensive things that I couldn’t afford, I decided to save up so I could indulge myself a bit. And indulge myself I did!

I wasn’t quite prepared for the temperatures in Vienna – I had packed a winter coat and a hat, thinking that would be enough. It wasn’t. My hands were cold constantly, so I was casually looking for gloves all week. I found some beautiful, high-quality gloves, but they were around 100€ and I didn’t want to kill my budget right away. Luckily I stumbled upon Kingpin on my way to a restaurant, and picked up these cute retro gloves. I’m a bit miffed that the white thread is already unravelling on the left one, but they were just 20€ after all. For that, they do a fine job keeping my hands warm. Still, if you’re interested in retro fashion I can recommend Kingpin, by the way! I was in love with the gorgeous dresses there (that weren’t all polyester like many retro clothes are, sadly), and I might have caved and tried some on if I hadn’t been so hungry. 😀

I visited the Komolka fabric store and it was frankly incredible. They had so many impossibly beautiful (and expensive) fabrics, it was almost overwhelming. I didn’t buy anything (very proud of myself for my restraint), but I did make a mental note to go there next time with a specific project in mind. The fabrics aren’t exactly budget-friendly so you need to know exactly what you want to make it a splurge you won’t regret afterwards!

Speaking of beautiful materials, I found this 100% cashmere Aigner sweater for 25€ at the carla mittersteig, a giant second-hand shop spanning four warehouses run by the Caritas. You can tell how rich Vienna is because they have some unbelievably gorgeous, high-end pieces. I still dream of the cashmere and wool coats I discovered there but sadly didn’t fit! The cashmere sweater went home with me, though. 🙂

I honestly kind of regretted going to Catrinette instead of using the short amount of time I had to go somewhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I love the style of the shop! They have beautiful MCM furniture, and I would totally save up for one piece if I lived nearby. The smaller stuff they have, though, is either very kitschy or very overpriced or both. I left without buying anything.

I’ve browsed through the jewelry at The Craftshop Vienna on January, but back then I couldn’t afford so many indulgences. This time, I was able to pick up one of their beautiful necklaces! The shop is situated in the former imperial pharmacy near the Hofburg and kept some of the original furniture. It doubles as a café, so it’s worth a visit even if you’re not into jewelry!

The Österreichische Werkstätten might be a tourist shop, albeit higher-end, but they sell so many beautiful things! The idea is to showcase Austrian designers, artists and products. I bought this porcelain mug with gold-leaf decor inspired by Joseph Maria Olbrich’s stylised golden sunflowers on the former entrances to the metropolitan railway station at Karlsplatz. I’ve been looking for something to hold my make-up brushes and everyday make-up products, and this is just perfect for the job! I couldn’t resist picking up a bottle of Donauweibchen Gin (= Danube woman gin) because I’m a Danube woman too, haha. Also, I love gin.

Phil found this Balinese headhunter sword in a market we stumbled upon randomly. He’s wanted one of these for a while because he loves South-East Asian martial arts. Cue me walking around with a sword in my purse for the rest of the afternoon, haha. 😀

The Kunstsupermarkt is such a neat idea! Designed like a supermarket, it sells art by established artists and newcomers in four prize tiers (59€, 110€, 220€, and 330€). I browsed through their wares for about an hour until I could decide which pieces I’d take home with me! Eventually, I decided on a water colour (left in the above picture) by Tonia Alvarez, a Spanish artist living in Berlin. They also had a Vienna Art Box, offering fine art prints by artists living and working in Vienna. I immediately fell in love with a print (right in the above picture) by Italian artist Ilaria Carli Paris. The woman in the picture seems so strong and self-confident while being in the nude, it’s just fantastic. I had planned on buying one artwork, but left with two because I just wanted that print so badly.

These earstuds are possibly my favourite thing of this whole trip. It’s from a jewelry collection called Wiener Moderne Forever, inspired by the art of the Wiener Werkstätte. I waited until Phil was there until I went into the Dorotheum though, because I’m intimidated by all the fancy rich people there. Turns out that I needn’t have worried because the salesperson was super friendly and accommodating! I needed a long time to eventually select three pieces of jewelry to try on, but when I saw myself with the earstuds above in the mirror it was clear these were the ones for me. They’re sterling silver gilt with onyx and red chalcedony, inspired by the simple and elegant designs of Koloman Moser. I know they’re in the lower prize range when it comes to jewelry, but for me it’s still quite a splurge. They’re the first piece of real jewelry I bought for myself!