The Lovage, A Diary: 48 Hours in Vienna
When you’re in Paris and your best friend invites you to join her and her son to celebrate his 12th birthday in Vienna at the opening of an exhibit curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf, you go. And so I did. We met at the Ring Hotel, a Relais & Chateaux property in the center of the city and got dolled up for our raison d’être.
Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and other Treasures curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf at Kunst Historisches Museum offers a window into the mind of two masterful storytellers through their inspired and eclectic selection from the collection of Austria’s largest museum (I wrote about it for Departures Magazine here, so check it). Also there, in honor of the 450th anniversary of his death, Kunst Historisches hosts a Breugel retrospective, that is the most comprehensive exhibit of the seminal Netherlandish painter’s work ever shown. But even without these exceptional shows, the museum’s permanent collection is unparalleled, particularly the ancient Egyptian and Greek collections are unlike anything I’ve seen.
We three horse-lovers couldn’t skip the Spanish Riding School, named for where the stunning Lippizaner stallions were imported from over 450 years ago. This stable and indoor performance ring rivals the nearby Viennese Opera House in its plush comfort and theatrical performances. The horses get acupuncture and spend half their time on “holiday” in the Austrian countryside. One should be so lucky as to come back as one of these studs.
The American Bar, Architect Adolf Loos’s architectural gem, has been celebrated since its completion in 1908 for its size-defying design where a receding coffered ceiling and chessboard floor give the illusion of grandeur to a lilliputian drinking hole. Most stylish and less smokey on Sundays.
You can’t go to Vienna and skip their café culture. We loved Café Tirolerhof, which epitomizes the Viennese coffee house, where the atmosphere is serene and sumptuous—the perfect place to warm up while reading international newspapers off of long wooden spines. Führichgasse 8, 1010 Wien, Austria
Schwartzen Kamele is one of Vienna’s bastions at which to see and be seen. Austrian soldiers at one table and celebratory friends at the next, with everyone clamoring for cocktails and ordering the apricot pancakes for dessert.
The Albertina museum was once the Habsburg archduke’ and duchesses’ residents and the lavish state rooms act as a time machine into their classical world. The museum also offers a trove of 20th Century works from masters such as Chagall, Picasso, Monet and Klimt, amongst others.
The Belvedere Galleries boasts 20 works by painter Egon Schiele in its permanent collection and the current show, commemorating the 100 years since the artist’s death.
Pick up traditional dirndl, lederhosen and Austrian jewelry at Trachten Witzky, because there will definitely be an opportunity to wear them in the near future.
Vienna’s extraordinary symphonic offerings are central to its romance and artistic heart. The current production of Madame Butterfly at the Wiener Staatsopera, is staged using a set from 1957, offering a stunning mid-century style to Puccini’s 1898 masterpiece. Also on this year’s roster: Sylvia, La Bohème, La Cenerentola, Rusalka.