Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 7:19 pm | Fair 62º


Judy Crowell: Vienna, City of Gemutlichkeit

Explore and indulge in the spirit of Austria's cheerful Old City

[Click here for a Noozhawk photo gallery of Vienna.]

Gemutlichkeit (no, not gesundheit) is alive and well in Vienna. Everywhere you walk in Vienna’s Old City (and, indeed, this is a walking city), you’ll see signs of gemutlichkeit. Defined as a cheerful mood or peace of mind, it is a philosophy of slowing down, enjoying life over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine — simple pleasures becoming the most important part of the day.

A perfect start to your day would be one of the countless cafés. Café Demel, a famous pastry shop, chocolatier and purveyor to the Imperial and Royal Court of Austria/Hungary, is not to be missed. You’ll be greeted in the third person, the historical, polite form of address in German. Well-fortified and on a sugar high, begin your walking tour.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, its twin spires the best-known symbol in the city, is a good place to start. Climb its 420 steps for a spectacular view of the city. Pass under the golden-domed St. Michael’s Gate and stroll along beautiful shop-lined walkways. Don’t miss Julius Meinl, Vienna’s renowned wine vendor and leading coffee roaster for more than 150 years — and the most incredible “grocery store” through which I’ve never pushed a cart!

The Plague Column will stop you in your tracks. It’s a magnificent sculpture built as the consequence of a promise made by Emperor Leopold to erect a mercy column if the plague would end. The Imperial Crypt, located below the Capuchin Church, is where the hearts of 145 Habsburg royals are kept in silver urns. Hofburg Palace, the winter residence of the Hapsburg family, is an enormous complex of buildings with surrounding courtyards. Housing great art collections, libraries and ornate residences, you could spend days here.

Within this complex is the Spanish Riding School, where world-famous Lipizzan stallions are trained from age 4. Black when foaled, they become light gray and then fully white after six to 10 years, when they are ready to perform the lovely “Airs Above the Ground.” Carriages outside the Hofburg Palace await tired feet. Hop on to ride past City Hall, the Opera, Parliament, University of Vienna and other Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architectural treasures, many more than 700 years old.

When traveling, I like to stay in traditional places — do as the Romans do, so to speak. Hotel Sacher Vienna, steeped in tradition, was built in 1876 and is Vienna’s most famous and beloved hotel. The mouthwatering chocolate sachertorte was invented here and still tempts.

Hotel Bristol Vienna also has marvelous Old World ambiance and is centrally located. Grand Hotel Wien, a five-star luxury hotel near the Opera, is a modern-day reminder of the Austro/Hungarian Empire. For a more contemporary décor, Le Méridien Vienna is suitably close to everything. And for the more adventurous, there’s always hiking from inn to inn in the magnificent surrounding Alps. True gemutlichkeit!

No longer just about wiener schnitzel, Vienna is home to innumerable gourmet cuisines. Steirereck is consistently listed as one of the world’s best 50 restaurants. Eisvogel is a pub-type eatery located in the Prater, Vienna’s pleasure park. Go to Fabios for great Italian and a lively cocktail bar; or Vestibul for Viennese cuisine, Novelli for Mediterranean-inspired dishes and Meinl am Graben (yes, back to the “grocery store”) for the best delicatessen in Vienna, as well as a snazzy restaurant upstairs.

Explore and indulge in the spirit of a cheerful mood, the gemutlichkeit of Vienna. Just follow the advice of Ralph Waldo Emerson: So of cheerfulness, or a good temper, the more it is spent, the more it remains.

— Judy Crowell is a Noozhawk contributing writer, author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The opinions expressed are her own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >