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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Monday in Vienna

We started out on an amble toward one of Vienna's Habsburg palaces, Belvedere Palace.  On the way, we walked through Stadt Park.  We were starting to see some early signs of spring--a few pale green leaves, some flowers.  A lot of the trees were still bare, though, aside from some truly amazing looking clumps of mistletoe.

I've never seen so much mistletoe on one tree!
It took us some time to find the entrance to Belvedere Palace.  Maybe we were approaching from an unusual angle, but there seemed to be little signage.  In fact, an Indian restaurant that was located nearby seemed to have more prominent signage than the palace complex itself.  Once we arrived, it was well worth a visit, not only for the two palaces of the complex, but also for the art exhibited.  The upper palace had several Klimt paintings, which I enjoyed seeing.  The grounds appear to be quite elaborate, as well.  We were there too early in the spring to get the full flavor, but numerous bare trees and shrubs carried the promise of future flowers.

Upper Palace

Lower Palace

Inside Upper Palace

Inside Lower Palace
After spending most of the morning at Belvedere Palace, we decided to head to Naschmarkt for lunch.  It took us a while to find that, too, but was also well worth it.  I had imagined a completely covered market, but it turned out to have uncovered walkways, with assorted restaurants and shops.  We had a giant seafood lunch of seafood steamed in white wine.  Yum!  I was very happy with what we ate, although when we walked around some more after lunch, I was sorry to not also be able to try the falafal.  Some of the falafal stands were gathering a crowd, which made me think it would be fresh and tasty.  I looked sadly at the produce--I wish I could get such quality and variety in Kazakhstan.  I did buy a bag of brown mustard seeds, having recently run out of them and not located a source in Astana.

My pictures of Naschmarkt itself weren't very good, so I'm posting a picture of an interesting building near the market.
We then visited Karlskirche, a baroque church on the way back to the area where we were staying.  The church was quite striking even from the outside, and we decided to go in to see its frescoes.  One thing that was unusual in Karlskirche was that we were able to get quite close to the inside of the dome by taking an elevator and then a series of stairs.  There was something about this particular elevator that brought out a sudden fear of heights in me, but Scott encouraged me to keep going and take the stairs to the top.  I wonder if it'll ever see frescoes painted in a church dome at such close range again.

Picture taken from floor of church

Moving up toward the dome

Close-up of fresco

Looking up at the dome!

View from the top

Karlskirche from the outside

Last, but not least, we visited Cafe Sacher to try their sachertorte!  I would highly recommend this dessert to all chocolate lovers.  It had layers of chocolate cake with apricot jam between layers and a dark chocolate frosting.  It was served with unsweetened whipped cream.  On the whole, it was probably not as sweet as many American chocolate cakes, but I loved it because the chocolate tasted like it was of very good quality.

The midday steamed shellfish meal combined with the late afternoon sachertorte pretty much killed our appetites for dinner, so we had yogurt and fruit in our hotel later.  I was happy even with that, though, because there was so much nice yogurt and fruit available in the grocery store we popped into.  Besides, I think sachertorte is worth killing my appetite for.

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