Viennese Whirl

Viennese Whirl

03 Jun 2009

Couture, culture, clubbing... and the world’s most fabulous cakes! Austria’s capital has it all

Considered one of Europe’s most dynamic cities, the historical face of Vienna is in stark contrast to the modern buzz that permeates its streets. Radiating out from Stephansplatz at the very heart of the city, are several popular shopping and dining areas, making the central square the ideal place to start each day from.

Once home to the city’s 18th-century silk trade, Neubau is one of the most popular hang-outs, particularly Mariahilferstrasse – not only is the district a popular address where many Austrian celebs have set up home, but it’s also Vienna’s longest shopping boulevard with plenty of recognisable high street stores interspersed with homegrown brands. And with concert venue Volkstheater Wien and the modern-art dedicated Museumsquartier, it’s also a hub for cool boho types.

Give your credit card a workout (or practice your window shopping techniques) in the Viennese equivalent of LA’s Rodeo Drive, Kohlmarkt. Home to labels such as Cartier, Gucci, Armani and Chanel, you can work up a designer label appetite before lunch at the chic Demel Cafe – the famous patisserie that supplies delicious goodies to the royal Habsburg family. Not only is the gingerbread to die for, but the violet sorbet was once a fave of 19th-century royal, Empress Elisabeth – a seal of approval if ever we heard one!

Later doll yourself up for a fab night on the town, as the city’s foodie scene is the perfect springboard for a night of raucous clubbing! The divine At Eight restaurant on Kärntner Ring is where everyone who’s anyone heads for early evening eats – and the award-winning dining concept encompasses ‘aroma cuisine’, a unique approach to cooking utilising not only fresh herbs, but aromatic oils such as honey oil, lavender and even tea tree. Definitely one to book ahead for!

Then hit hot club Flex, considered to be one of Europe’s best, where the legendary sound system and big-name international DJs playing a mix of house and techno will have you dancing into the small hours.

In the warmer months you can escape the indoor scene to join fellow clubbers on the Danube embankment for partying until the sun comes up. Or, for a slightly more chilled night out, pop into Flex Cafe, where you can select your own music from over 700 albums on the jukebox.

While you’re there...

Lingerie to linen
Maria Theresia Design in the Huber Shop (on Singerstrasse), is one of Austria’s iconic brands. The rose pattern used on everything from sexy lingerie and nightwear to table linens and porcelain was designed for Empress Maria Theresia. It’s pretty and girly in shades from pink to apricot, and the perfect souvenir to take home from your Viennese vacation!

The right note
With so many famous composers coming from the city, no trip to Vienna would be complete without an evening spent taking in some of the city’s enviable musical heritage. Take a guided tour of the ‘Musical Mile’ and the Walk of Stars – an ever-growing collection of hand- and footprints from veritable musicians that’s handily on the doorstep of a fab shopping mall.

Composer culture
Musical productions have been linked with Austria for centuries, and the impressive Vienna Staatsoper is the ideal place to catch a traditional opera or Broadway musical. And from July 1-5, actor John Malkovich will be taking part in a special production at the Ronacher Theater.

Sweet satisfaction

You don’t get much more Austrian in the culinary department than Viennese apple strudels. And every hour between 10am-4pm, demonstrations are held by a professional pastry chef at the Schönbrunn Palace’s Café Residenz. The 20-minute demo costs just Dhs20 per person and you’ll leave knowing how to make the yummy treat at home.