Saturday, October 14, 2017

Sources of inspiration // Vienna: grandeur, cafe culture and art // Top 5 things to do and fun places to visit for creative souls

Vienna has been top of my list of European cities to visit for a long time. I have only crossed the city a couple of times in transit, just passing through while traveling east or south. But I never got around to actually explore this beautiful city up until this fall, when my friend Monika, author of a book I was featured in, invited me to join her.

The first thing you will notice about this city is it’s elegance. It’s respect for history and it’s grandeur. There are so many places to see and explore, whether you visit this city as a shopaholic, an architectural geek, foodie, or as a creative like me, there is something to see and do for everyone. This city is diverse and surprising. With a raw city edge like most European cities have but also the contrasting wealth, the grand architecture is a reminder of Vienna’s rich yesterdays. One of Europe’s hidden gem’s definitely.

Vienna has a rich history of performing arts, musicians, composers, dancers, and was Europe’s breading soil for mid-century painters. The city is buzzing with creation. I was lucky to visit this place during Vienna’s Design Week. And during my stay I also found out I was visiting during their annual Museum Night. So there could not be a better time to visit and explore Vienna’s cafe’s, museums, galleries, botanical gardens and wonderful architectural sights. Here is my personal top 5 of places to visit.

1 // Polaroid & Letter Press at Supersense
If you interested in photography and typography this cafe and store is heaven! Supersense located in a beautiful corner building on the Praterstraße. It pretty much is super for my senses, so the name is pretty accurate, at least to me it is. This beautiful coffee house used to be a thrift store. It now houses a great place to have a drink; grab a coffee, eat some Viennese cake but it also houses a shop that is just one big designer heaven. Typography books, custom letter press printing, a smell bar, toy camera’s and design and photography gifts. All things I just looove to get my hands on as a former typography student and photo freak. This cafe is run by the man who saved Polaroid. So you can see a great selection of old Polaroid camera’s, books and prints but you can also stock up on new stuff if you want to expand your collection In the back you can find the music section with some instruments and music gear. Just yes!

2 // Botanical Lovers
The Viennese Palmenhaus is a definite must see. One of Vienna’s most beautiful places to have a bite. Located within the museum quarter, this place is an oases. The original late 19th century structure is such a delight to visit, with it’s glass walls and roof, it’s enormous palm trees stretching out from the front to the back, this is a great location to have a decent dinner and look out over the Burggarten. I am a sucker for plants and just love to enjoy these kind of places. If you are a true botanical fan like me you can also take the subway to Schönbrunn that houses an authentic botanical garden. The place is truly magical. Do not forget to also take some time to visit the park and it’s surroundings and hop into the palace. You have to visit at least one palace in Vienna!

3 // Viennese cafe life
Vienna must be one of the most convenient places to work as a freelancer. Cafe’s can be found all around the city and Vienna has a strong coffee house culture. It is serious business. The waiters are dressed in suits, and those interiors! Oh! Whether you want to meet up with friends, have a productive day with your laptop or just want to read the newspaper, the cafe’s are buzzing and going out for a drink and a torte, a cake, is part of the Viennese culture. People meet up in coffee houses rather than at home and this is why so many cafe’s are still in business. If you have some time it is definitely worth stopping by the most authentic and fun Viennese cafes. My favorites so far were Café Prückel with it’s amazing pastels and retro furniture. Loved the interior! NENI a little place on the Naschmarkt. From their heated terrace you can enjoy the crowded market life. Café Savoy, for all my gay friends. A classic place with a mostly gay clientele and very kind staff. Justizcafé, located in the beautiful Palace of Justice, this cafe on the 5th floor has an amazing view over the city and as you might already know: I love a little top view. Have a peek into the mail hall, (it is gorgeous!) and take the elevator to the 5th and stare over the city.

4 // Museum Night & Design Week
I was lucky enough to actually visit Vienna during Design Week. During this week art and design students and design graduates are invited to show their works in galleries all over the city and talk about their philosophy and goals. Functional industrial design, porcelain, installations. Oh how I love art! On Saturday night I was also able to enjoy the city’s annual Museum Night. During this night Vienna’s museums open their doors and for only €15 you can visit all mayor museums. But there is so much to see. get the most our of your night and plan a route, with over 130 museums it is a must. Instead of visiting my usual art museums, alright I did visit some: Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Museum, with a wonderful expo about water life, the building it’s self is worth a little peek too though. Palace Liechtenstein with it’s crazy murals and ceilings. But I mostly tried some more out-of-the-box ones that are unique to Vienna. The Contraception and Abortion museum, very popular and crowded during Museum night. It is such an insightful place for young peeps that are discovering their own sexuality. It has tons of information about the female reproductive system. We paid a visit to the Schnaps Museum with an endless chat about alcohol, all in German, I had absolutely no idea what that was all about but the old brewery, tanks, bottles, the interior was wonderful. And of course we tasted some of the brews.

5 // Architecture
Vienna has a rich history and the old architecture is a great reflection of it’s wealthy past. Even though I haven’t seen too many modern structures I did enjoy the city hall, old mansions, villa’s, palaces and botanical houses. I was also amazed by the beauty of their public transport buildings. The patterned tiled floors, metal framework, the green color. Very classy. I loved the hidden Jugendstil places near the Naschmarkt. But the most beautiful old buildings must have been around the museum quarter. If you can appreciate these old gems just wander around these Viennese streets and hop in every building you get a chance to enter. I personally love the library with it’s flamboyant interior. Painted ceilings, golden details and books stretching from the floor to the roof. Breathtaking!

Whatever you decide to do in Vienna, you will notice the mix of old and new. With room for traditional culture and for new and modern. have yourself a great stay and be inspired by all great artists who once were roaming those cafe’s and streets of Vienna. You can still feel that creative buzz. I left this city with a whole bunch of new ideas and a new fresh creative energy. And I am sure it will do the same for you! So do boost this city on your "Places To Visit" list. Curious about all places I visit? Check the Little Smilemakers FourSquare list for a links and locations.