Every time I go back to my hometown Vienna, I do at least one ‘girlie day’. My mum, a long time Viennese resident, my sister and I have made it a habit to break out of our family routines and have a great day in Vienna, just the three of us. This year, we’ll actually be four, as the next generation (my 8-year-old daughter) insisted on joining us. Below is a list of our mostly long time favorites. They should cover at least three days:
1. Food and Vintage Shopping
Every Saturday morning, my mum would roam the local food and flea market ‘Naschmarkt’ in search of the best Balkanese sausages, the freshest farmers’ vegetables, the next great addition to her vintage handbag collection, and the occasional designer bargain. It seems natural that we join her if our girlie day falls on a Saturday.
2. Vienna Museums, Weird and Wonderful!
Our most favorite Vienna culture stops include the Museum of Fine Arts, the Albertina Vienna, and lately the Jewish Museum. We have been to a few antique, 19th and 20th century exhibitions. This year, I have put my hand up for visiting the Museum of Fine Arts’ recently re-opened Cabinet of Curiosities, which displays the ‘weird and wonderful’ collection of the Habsburgs.
3. A Bike Workout
If we don’t bike at Helenental in the Vienna Woods, we go to the Danube Island via Prater. Both trails are largely flat, and lush green, which makes the cross-generational girlie tour more of a conversation on wheels rather than a hardcore sweat. Both places are great for a little picnic.
Travelers Tip: Vienna’s city bike scheme offers a Tourist Card that lets you rent a bike for just a couple of Euros per day.
4. Fashion Shopping
When we go shopping, we apply the 80:20 rule. 80 percent promenading and window shopping, 20 percent actual buying. The ideal playground for fashion and jewellery shopping is the area between Kaerntnerstrasse and Freyung in the historic city center. My regular stops are contemporary Austrian fashion shops such as Goessl, Trachtenoutlet, and Muehlbauer hats, and Skrein’s jewellery shop. Sometimes, Swarovski.
5. A Girlie Cafe and Patisserie
White wall paper with scattered flowers, three dozen small lampshades hanging from the ceilings, French-style velvety upholstered seats in red and grey, and a cake counter that leaves no wishes unfulfilled: coffee shop and patisserie Orlando di Castello is the perfect place for soft conversations about friends, family, relationships, fashion and the latest vacation. Located at Freyung, it is also the ideal place to end our fashion shopping workout. My daughter will love it!
6. A Chocolate Body Wrap
She doesn’t know it yet but my mum will get a chocolate spa treatment for her birthday when I am over. Hotel Sacher, famous for its eponymous chocolate cake, offers several chocolate treatments in its day spa. Sacher uses its own skincare line including ingredients from the antioxidant-rich cocoa bean for peelings, massages and body masks. And best of all, you don’t put on weight.
7. A Summer Boat Ride
Last year we toured lake Neusiedl, a steppe lake with endless dimensions that reaches over to Hungary, in a fun little electro boat. Occasionally, we would jump and swim in the murky warm water off the shallow lake surrounded by reeds. This year, we decided to repeat a more civilized, but still fun, Wachau Valley cruise that we did ages ago. Just for one hour, from Krems to Spitz, which will leave us time to shop for local apricot jam, liqueur and chutney.
8. An Outdoor Barbecue
My mum loves it when my sister and I take her to places in Vienna that she frequented when she was a young woman. One such example is Volksgarten Pavillon, an iconic 1950’s bar and restaurant that has lost nothing of its charm over the past six decades. In the summer, there is a daily evening barbecue and outdoor bar in the shady garden. Right next door is the Volksgarten discotheque, where you can dance at the outdoor portico (I hope my daughter will take me there one day…)
9. A Small Theater Experience in Vienna
We all love theater, and have managed to blend our preferences into seeing fun musical performances at small basement theaters. Last year, we saw the famous Johann Strauss operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat) performed in the little theater below Cafe Prueckel, one of the most popular Vienna coffeehouses. The actors were splendid, and the atmosphere intimate. Another interesting small theater is the historic marionette theater at Schonbrunn Palace, which regularly stages Mozart operas performed by marvelous rococo puppets.
10. A Burlesque Show
Burlesque shows are getting all popular in Vienna. Cirque Rouge at the Rote Bar of Volkstheater is a hilarious burlesque show and cabaret. Each of the monthly shows is themed, for example ‘Dream Boat’ or ‘From Russia with Love’. Guests have to wear vintage dresses from the 1920’s to 1950’s. During the shows, girls with vendor’s trays go through to offer goodies. All this really sends you some 80 years back. Good fun.
Barbara Cacao, a native Viennese, runs travel site Vienna Unwrapped, her little black book of the best of Vienna, Austria. On the site, she shares her travel tips and knowledge as a native, a former local, and a frequent Vienna traveler with you.
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