Chasing Culture in Vienna
For our first anniversary, my husband I went to Austria seeking a unique cultural experience: A Ball. While we went for a specific event that lasted a single (albeit unforgettable) night, we had two weeks to soak in the city. We found Vienna to be bursting at its seams with artistic expression and rich experiences; from the balls to cafes to unparalleled musical history, the city could not cease to delight and impress. Immerse yourself in the history and culture of Vienna with this short list of must sees and dos:
Like the balls once were (more on that in a bit), the coffee house culture of Vienna is on UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage.” Like a lot of european dining, the coffeehouse is not a place to run in and out of; instead, visiting a coffeehouse is an opportunity to sit, relax, catch up with your companion or the world news (there are always international papers available for your perusal) all whilst sipping on delicious coffee concoctions and nibbling sweet pastries. You must visit at least one a day if not two or three as they serve dinner and drinks too.
No study in classical music would be complete without the period known as the First Viennese School. It was in Vienna that Mozart composed some of his most successful pieces, and Beethoven studied under the great composer, Haydn. Lest we not forget those born in Vienna such as Franz Schubert. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra is often regarded as one of the most talented ensemble of musicians in the world. A night listening the classics under the glow of the breathtaking golden hall of the Musikverein is a must do!
The Kunsthistorisches Museum is the largest in the country, but it's the Belvedere that houses the artwork I would call uniquely Austrian. The collection is spread across two beautiful baroque palaces. After a morning taking in masterpieces created by Gustav Klimt (symbolist painter known for his golden canvases) and his protege Egon Schiele (hard, boney and twisted bodies that left their mark in art history’s expressionism movement), you can enjoy a stroll through the garden and a bite at the cafe.
When I was a child, my mother took me to see the touring Lipizzaner Stallions in Texas, but their home is Austria. The famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna still performs classic dressage today. The riders salute a hanging portrait of Emperor Charles the VI before beginning their show and take the horses through a progression of classical dressage movements. If you’re unfamiliar with the sport, the guide book is a handy purchase. In addition to an enjoyable show (like everything in Vienna), the riding school itself is something to behold. It is located inside the Hofburg. With its white columns and chandeliers, it fits so well as part of a palace. I recommend a seat as standing room is a bit far back from the arena.
Instead of taking a tour, I cannot recommend attending an opera at the Vienna State Opera enough! It is a real treat to witness some of the great artists who perform on its stage from the very famous to little known it seems every voice was trained to perfection. Each seat has its own little pop up translation (in comparison to some opera houses that have a screen above the stage) and there doesn’t seem to be a bad view in the house. Intermission provides an opportunity to grab a glass of wine or light bites and enjoy the exquisitely decorated lobbies and the grand marble staircase. Afterwards, you can cross the street for a splendid dinner at Hotel Sacher and finish the evening off with an original Sacher Torte!
There are still so many things to enjoy in Vienna beyond this list, but the last thing I wish to leave you with is a this: A ball. Vienna holds hundreds of balls every year. Most happen between November and February as part of Carnival. They happen in palaces, the opera house and a dozen other venues. The music and theme can range from fun and flirty to classic, white tie. The latter are known for their strict dress codes and courtly customs. We went in search of a timeless experience and settled on attending the kaffeesieder ball held every year in the Hofburg palace. Dancing the night away in a beloved gown, under chandeliers, roaming the halls of a imperial palace finding an orchestra, jazz band, big band and others to sway to is an unforgettably magnificent evening. Should you find yourself with the opportunity to go to such an event, I would say without hesitation or doubt you absolutely must!
When I first discovered Ashley's instagram account I immediately fell in love with her amazing pictures of the couple's incredible adventures! Ashley is a constant source of inspiration on living a beautiful life. A reminder to always explore this wonderful world we live in, and the sweetness in sharing it with a partner.
About the Author: Ashley Lowry is an aspiring blogger and happy newlywed. She and her husband love to travel, flirt with minimalism and pursue timeless style.
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