Saturday, April 30, 2011

London - Ebury Restaurant and Wine Bar Meal #2

We decided to try the Ebury Restaurant for another meal since we enjoyed the first one so much.  End vote?  Two out of two great meals.  We stayed for about 2 hours and enjoyed the food, conversation and Lena (who took great care of us all through dinner!)

Started with a glass of champagne to celebrate the royal wedding.

London - British Museum exhibits and shops

I continued to wander through the British Museum and stopped to see some of my favorites.  I also visited some sections that are new to me, and stopped to watch a technology video on how anthropologists are discovering the colors of these ancient worlds.

London - Statue Mouth Study

I've been traveling for five weeks, and have started to see and become fascinated, with different things.  Statue mouths caught my attention at the British Museum.  What do you think?  I must have looked crazy walking around the museum taking these pictures. But no one said anything...

London - Court Restaurant at the British Museum

Phew, being a tourist is tough.  It was time to enjoy lunch at the British Museum.  The Court Restaurant is a fancy dining area on the second floor.  The menu items change often as some of the menu item flavors follow the tone of the special exhibits in the museum at the time.  If you are not very hungry, go to the little cafeteria setup on the first floor.

Assam chai served with spices

London - The British Museum

I wanted to select one museum and spend the day wandering through the exhibits. I had been here in 2006 with my sister and son and saw the main name pieces in the museum.  So, open to seeing anything, off we went.

London - The Thomas Cubitt Public House and Dining Room

We decided to try The Thomas Cubitt Pub for lunch.  It was nearly filled but we were able to find a table inside.  The food and drink were good. The service was confusing. Every water stopped by the table, so was this a group task, or no one was assigned the table, or everyone was assigned the table. Who knows.  But it was a nice afternoon and a pleasant meal out.

Nice and inviting look outside.

London - Pimlico Launderette

The Lime Tree Hotel does not have a laundry, but there is one about a ten minute walk away. I loaded my wheeled suitcase with dirty clothes and took off on the adventure.

This was my destination.

Friday, April 29, 2011

London - Ebury Restaurant and Wine Bar Meal #1

The Ebury Restaurant and Wine Bar is next door to the Lime Tree Hotel, right on the corner of Ebury and Elizabeth.  The restaurant opens at 6:00 PM and is full by 8:00 PM. I highly recommend reservations.  Prices listed below are in euros.  

Ebury Restaurant, on the right.

London - Royal wedding videos

I don't know about you, but I have seen the video of the William and Kate wedding multiple times.  Here is a sampling of the videos taken in Hyde Park with 100,000 people.  I hope to share the emotion of the crowd as they witnessed the wedding.  Hyde Park was set up with three large screens, a great sound system, rows and rows of Port-a-Johns, and a huge semi-circle with food booths. It was a festive event!

The crowd is quiet and listening to the vows, followed by cheers.

London - Knightsbridge Cafe and Restaurant

We were hungry after attending William and Kate's wedding at Hyde Park so we stopped at the Knightsbridge Cafe and Restaurant.  We were able to get a table outside, although it was covered and closed in because of the pending rain.

London - The Royal Wedding

Souvenirs listed at the bottom!

We were staying at the Lime Tree Hotel in Belgravia.  After talking with locals about viewing opportunities, Hyde Park was selected as the spot to enjoy all of the festivities.  There were three large screens, excellent sound system, food booths, and plenty of toilettes to support the crowd of 100,000.  If we had used the carriage route as our destination, we would have potentially caught a five second glimpse as the bride and groom rode to Buckingham Palace.One woman staying at the Lime Tree Hotel left at 4AM, armed with food baskets and a step ladder. She got a good glimpse of the Royals, and watched the rest on her iPad. She reported that the crowd along the route was very orderly and that it was a fun experience.
Festive loaves of bread for the celebration

London - Lime Tree Hotel

The Lime Tree Hotel in Belgravia area of London has become one of my favorites when staying in London.  I was introduced to it by my sister when we visited in January, 2006.  This room was a triple single, and we were charged for a double single.  I originally was going to stay in London for Saturday and Sunday, but luckily saw the news about the royal wedding on Friday, so booked for Thursday through Monday.

The sink is in the common room area.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Vienna - Cafe Sacher and the Sacher Torte

We have tried the "Sacher Torte" knock-offs in several cafes. It was now time to test the real thing, the ORIGINAL SACHER TORTE.  Be bold. Be brave. Come along for the ride. Enjoy!

The entrance to the cafe is directly across from the Opera house.

Vienna - Schatzkammer (Imperial Treasury)

The Schatzkammer is the Treasury and holds the crown jewels, 1000 years worth of jewels.  We could only spend 1.5 hours here, so we could look but not read.  Well, never mind about the reading. It was mostly in German.

Vienna - Kunsthistorisches Museum

The Kunsthistorisches Museum was on the top of my list for must-sees for Vienna.  Beautiful paintings, but it was the lobby that amazed me the most. We were on a tight schedule and could only spend two hours here.  At times it felt that we were flying through.  The focus was on the paintings. Here is a sampling. If you know the artist for the unmarked paintings, please add it to the comment section or send an email to me.

Trees along the walkway were blooming.

Vienna - Naschtmarkt

Welcome to the Naschtmarkt, Vienna's largest market. I don't think that I have seen one that is as large as this one.  One row is lined with restaurants and another row is lined with shops. Just doesn't get any better. So, if someone says "let's meet at the Naschtmarkt", make sure to get an exact location.

The signs mark the end of EACH block.

Vienna - Cafe Griensteidl

Time for a break and there is a great place to sit, take in the 5PM "Kaffee und Kuchen" (coffee and cake), and watch the world walk by.  You will see a mix of tourists and locals walk by this location.

Vienna - Cafe Sperl

Whole Bean Caffeinated Cafe Sperl  Cafe Sperl coffee at home.  Try it! (affiliate link). 
Years ago I bought coffee from Gevalia, online, and received the European Classics selections. One of the coffees was "Cafe Sperl" and I remembered that it was in Vienna. I planned a trip to this cafe so that I could experience it for myself. I was not disappointed.  And now that I have discovered that I can purchase it online from Amazon (link at the top of the page), I think that I will need to relive my adventure!

Menu Cover

Vienna - Chocolate, crystal, silver, gold, and scary statues

We strolled a little down Kohlmarkt. I stopped in Demel to buy some chocolates. It was so hard to decide.  K went to buy some postcards, so while I was waiting I window shopped at a cute little gold and silver shop.

Der Demel - great stop for Chocolates
Click here to learn more about Demel.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Vienna - Cafe Mozart dinner

We ended the evening with dinner at Cafe Mozart on Albertinaplatz.  We both selected, independently, the Vienese "Tafelspitz" for 19,80 euros.

Started with a glass of wine. Notice that the
glasses are marked for an exact pour.

Vienna - Adolf Loos classy WC

We are back on Graben to finish the walk.  The window shopping continues to be great and then we came upon the famous Adolf Loos designed public water closets (toilettes!).  The story is that a local chemical maker need a  publicity stunt to showcase his chemicals. He purchased two wine cellars under Graben and turned them in to classy Modernist style public toilettes.  Chandeliers. Finely crafted mahogany.  And a .50 euro entrance fee.  Very clean and stylish.

Fancy entranceways.  No huge signs, you just have to be in the know!

Vienna - St. Peter's Church (Peterskirche)

This post has several videos.
Following Rick Steve's Vienna City walking tour, we stepped off of Graben to tour St. Peter's Church.  The text in the travel guide did not prepare me for what I was about to see, although you can see that there is fair warning.
Leopold I also ordered this church to be built as a thank-you for surviving the 1679 plague.  The church stands on the site of a much older church that may have been Vienna's first (or second) Christian church. Inside, St. Peter's shows Vienna at its Baroque best. [Steves] [emphasis added]

The church is squished in a side street.
Normal and not too flashy.

Vienna - Souvenirs

There were plenty of souvenir shops in Vienna and you could certainly buy all that you want of a variety of items.  You need to plan ahead to have extra baggage room for your souvenirs.

Stores were clearly marked.  There were plenty of T-Shirts and postcards.

Vienna - Graben

What is a "Graben".  A street name.  and more than that...
This was once a Graben, or ditch, originally the moat for the Roman military camp.  [Steves]
 Graben was a busy street with three lanes of traffic until the 1970s, when it was turned into one of Europe's first pedestrian-only zones. [Steves]
WOW!  I love pedestrian-only zones!!! And here I am, standing at the mother of all foot only zones.  Walk with me...I took these photos for you.

Vienna - Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral)

After all of the churches and cathedrals that I have visited on this trip, St. Stephen's Cathedral did not fail to provide a breathtaking view of yet another fabulous cathedral.

An interesting comment about the reconstruction is on the wikipedia site.
The most visible current repair project is a multi-year renovation of the tall south tower, for which scaffolding has been installed. Fees from advertising on the netting around the scaffolding were defraying some of the costs of the work, but the concept of such advertising was controversial and has been discontinued. As of December 2008, the majority of the restoration on the south tower has been finished, and most of the scaffolding removed.

The church was heavily damaged during WWII.  

A gate was drawn across this section, probably
in preparation for the upcoming Mass.
I stretched through it and took these
photos.  This is a high resolution photo,
so click on it to see it in greater detail.
This immense nave is more than a football
field long and nine stories tall. [Steves]
 The nave is lined with clusters of slender pillars that soar upward to support the ribbed crisscross arches of the ceiling.  Stylistically, the nave is Gothic with a Baroque overlay.  It's a spacious, glorious venue that is often used for high-profile concerts.  [Steves]
The organ.
High resolution photo also.

The floor

Ceiling detail

Pillar Statues: The nave's columns are richly populated
with 77 life-size stone and ceramic statues, making a
saintly parade to the high altar. [Steves]

One more task to take care of before I leave.

It was a beautiful cathedral. 

Rick Steves offers a great walking tour of the Cathedral in his Vienna book.  The majority of the Cathedral was closed at the time, but I would return to see the remaining portions closer.

Rick Steves' Vienna, Salzburg, and Tirol

Vienna - Stephanplatz

sThis is an open plaza (platz) with a lot happening.  I'll explain as we look around at the people and the buildings.  The descriptions of the building architecture comes from Rick Steves' awesome walking tour.

 This is the link to the paperback version. I used the Kindle version on my iPhone..

Kaarntner Strasse pours into the main square.
Notice the pink BIPA sign on the right. You know
what is in that store! We've been through the aisles.
Click to read the blog post on BIPA.
Notice the shiny building in the middle of the picture.

"This is the modern Haas Haus.
This is a post modern building by Austrian architect
Hans Hollein, finished in 1990. Curved facade echos
Roman fortress of Vindobona (found near here).
There was much protest about this building
but it's been accepted. Notice how the church
pointy architecture is reflected in the smooth glass." Steves
Click here for wikipedia information on Haas Haus

It didn't take long to learn that "Konditorei" meant pastries!
This is a chain store in Vienna.
Click here to read more about AIDA.

This is the street called "Graben".  We'll go down here later.

The "Stephanplatz" Church: St. Stephan's Cathedral.
The interior is in a separate blog post. Look closely at these photos
and you can see that there is scaffolding with images of
the building covering all of the construction and renovation
work going on.  This allows the restoration to occur without
taking away from the beauty of the building and surroundings.

Click on the photo to see the detail.

Artists at work in the plaza.

Street view towards another cathedral with the green roof.
We will go there later.

International Building/Bank of Austria

Detail of the upper floors of the International Building.
Decorative Art Nouveau elements.

"Equitable Building,
filled with lawyers, bankers and insurance brokers,
is a fine example of Neoclassicism from the turn of
the 20th century." Steves

"Look up and imagine how slick Vienna must
have felt in 1900." Steves

Detail of the cobblestones in Stephansplatz.

"Notice how the smooth, rounded glass
reflects St. Stephan's pointy architecture.
The cafe and pricey restaurant inside
offer a nice perch, complete with a view
of Stephansplatz below." Steves
Now, let's enter the St. Stephan's Cathedral in the next post.