Viennese waltz

R had to go to Vienna for work last week so he tagged a couple of extra days onto his trip and I flew out to spend the weekend with him and one of my oldest friends, Ed, who happens to live and work in Vienna. We stayed in his beautiful white, warm apartment, sharing the bedroom with his collection of beautiful and well-loved houseplants. As we had already been to Vienna a few years ago, this time we didn’t feel any pressure to see everything in the guidebook. We managed instead to have a relaxed and low-key few days. Endless streams of chatter, countless coffees and a smattering of snow! And perhaps a little glimpse into real Viennese life.

On Saturday, after restorative coffees and a reunion with R, we headed to the Weiner Riesenrad, (the city’s giant Ferris wheel to you and me). It was a little rickety (it was built in 1897 after all), but the views from the top were wonderful, and I had lots of fun taking photos and watching flocks of birds swooping around us as the afternoon turned to evening.

Not sure I'd fancy having my tea in here.....

After our Ferris wheel adventure, we took a trip on one of the city’s beautiful old trams around the Ringstrasse, which circles the historical centre. Ed was our tour guide.

In the evening, we met up with a couple of other friends who coincidentally also happened to be in Vienna and sipped the first of the evening’s many cocktails. After dinner at the newly opened

mini

 we walked and shivered (it was freezing!) all the way to

If Dogs Run Free

 (after the Bob Dylan song?) where we stayed, chatting in the smoke and the heat and the dark until the early hours, when tiredness took over and it was time to head home.  

I had Jimmy's Margharita. Whoever he is, he makes a mean one.

I loved this sign above the doorway to the bar

This cocktail (recommended by Ed) was called The Last Word. You can see the alcohol-soaked morello cherry lurking in its depths. I enjoyed it very muchly. 

On Sunday morning we had a leisurely breakfast and I spent a long time admiring Ed's collection of houseplants. That boy has green fingers.

Oak tree in the making. He grew this from an acorn that came all the way from Wales. I told it to grow strong and tall. 

European window porn.

After R managed to drag me away from the plants, we headed off to the Freud museum and then to the Kunsthistorisches museum (after a quick stop for a würst). Two very kind Austrian tourists gave us their tickets so we went in for free! The museum was incredible - absolutely vast, palatial and ridiculously ornate. Home to rooms and rooms of the most beautiful paintings, artefacts, jewels and trinkets. We spent a peaceful couple of hours, wandering, gazing, oohing and ahhing to each other.

View from Freud's waiting room. I liked the parasols. 

Complicated-looking machine used for something. Can't remember!

We spent a lot of time with the Breughels. They were pretty amazing. 

All sorts of weird, wonderful and priceless things that the Hapsburgs just had lying around their house. As you do. 

The Saliera! Is this the most elaborate salt and pepper cellar you've ever seen?!

When we emerged, it was snowing, much to my excitement! Soon everything (us included) was swathed in a feathery coating of white. Suddenly, the city looked even more beautiful than before, fuzzy and glowing in the lamplight. We sought shelter in the famous Café Spurl for a coffee and piece of cake, then caught the u-bahn home and went out for a late-evening pizza near Ed’s apartment.

On Monday R and I met Ed for a goodbye breakfast and then spent a lovely few hours wandering around the MuseumsQuartier, making a few purchases in the Leopold museum shop (what philistines!) and generally enjoying ourselves. Just off the main shopping street we found streets filled with independent shops – a beautiful little stationers, a sewing shop, a deli, sweet shops, toy shops and book shops. All wonderfully civilised and old-fashioned, like London of old. We decided it would be a lovely place to live, and felt very jealous of Ed.

R spent a long time staring at this little beauty. But at €85 it was a bit too 'spensive for us. Our hearts long for a real-sized one of our own. Maybe one day. 

These two were happily munching carrots and enjoying a little rest as we passed them. I thought they looked very handsome in the snow. 

Defeated by a couple of schnitzel. We were disappointed in ourselves. 

After a lunch of obscenely large schnitzels and an impulse buy from a tiny, friendly second hand shop, we breathed in the snowy air, sighed to be leaving, and said bye bye to Vienna again, talking of returning and London and how lovely a weekend it had been.