Friday, August 1, 2008

Warsaw (Poland) & Vienna (Austria)

My first trip to Poland was short (only one night), but sweet. I had my friend Jim along to introduce me to our Polish partners and show me around the lovely city of Warsaw. Arriving at the hotel, we were surprised to find a bunch of media waiting with cameras at the front entrance. Sadly they weren’t for us, apparently there were covering some Polish football league meeting going on in our hotel so it wasn’t very exciting anyway. We had a nice lunch with our partners at a strawberry themed restaurant where I had my first taste of an authentic Polish pierogie, this one filled with goat cheese though, not cheddar, potato, & onion like I’m used to, but it was delicious! We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling about old town, 85% of which was completely destroyed in WWII and painstakingly restored to it’s original form, and ended the day with a hearty dinner at a very rustic and traditional restaurant, U. Fukiera (oh the puns we came up with!).
After our business was complete in Warsaw we flew to Vienna for a weekend of tourist leisure. To my delight, we found that our hotel was located smack in the middle of a shopping street --- we later learned that there are over 7,580 shops there! The first day we just meandered about and admired all the amazing baroque, classical architecture of the city and the beautiful statues like the one here of Mozart (many classical composers were Austrian-born and lived in Vienna, so music and the arts are a very big deal here). Just after passing by the Burgkapelle chapel where the Vienna Boys Choir sing, we stopped for some famous Viennese coffee and desserts– I had the schococcino, chocolate espresso with whipped cream and an amazingly tasty apple strudel. For dinner that night we went to one of the cities oldest wine taverns and had some very delicious weiner schnitzel….breaded pork, for those of you with their minds in the gutter.
Saturday we primarily spent our day at the Belvedere Palace, exploring the 18th century former residence and all the amazing artworks there, such famous pieces like The Kiss by the Austrian artist Gustav Klimt and religious pieces from as far back as 1400!!!!
That evening we brought out our finest and went to a symphony at the Schonbrun Palace. I never considered myself much of a classical music fan, but first thing after my return from Vienna I was on my iTunes downloading Mozart & Strauss! The concert was incredible and the Orchestra as well as the accompanying Opera singers and Ballet dancers were phenomenal. I really loved every minute of the event and being surrounded by a majestic palace made the experience all the more memorable.
We ended our trip to this beautiful city with a leisurely breakfast at the Hotel Sacher. We had kept reading about the infamous Sachertorte, a chocolate cake made with apricot marmalade, so we had to try it before leaving town……….thankfully I only had a bite size portion because I didn't like it at all and couldn’t even eat the one bite. Despite finishing on a “sour” note, I still very much enjoyed this city and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in gaining a new appreciation for culture and the arts.

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