Monday, February 28, 2011

Shirin + Tory = Spring

It's March 1st and I've decided I'm officially done with winter.  Basta.  I don't believe Vienna has decided it's done with with winter quite yet, but the sunshine of the past couple of days is good enough for me - it's spring in my heart.

To get into the spirit of things, I've started to eye what would go on the wish list of my spring lookbook (more of a wish list than anything because a/ I'm still on leave and not working and b/ because somehow that five pounds I had left to go has suddenly become seven...and a half...must stop the "just this once" hot chocolates at Zanoni's).  As you may or may not know from here, here, and here, I have a bit of a thing on the very diplomatically lovely Shirin von Wulffen, who recently completed a wish list on the Tory Burch website, though I'm not sure that the look she picked is quite the right look for moi.

And speaking of Tory Burch, her own spring lookbook, shot in the sunny dessert sands, is perfect for starting to think of warmer climes to come.

A double dose of Erwin...

That would be Erwin Schrott. Who is Erwin Schrott you say? That would be the like-buttah bass-baritone that we just saw in the Marriage of Figaro at the Opera House and husband of Anna Netrebko, soprano extraordinaire who I have still yet to see on stage.

The performance was excellent, and let's face it, that's something for an opera.  Not that opera isn't excellent, but if you're an amateur admirer usually there are one or two voices that really stand out, or one or two arias that you know ( least, that I know) in a performance, but this particular opera was solid from the stars like Erwin all the way down to the bit parts - and best of all, we got to see it from the main floor as we joined some Austrian friends of ours and that's how they roll.  We usually roll in the eaves.  Worth every penny.  Spoiler alert: Figaro does get married at the end.

Tonight I headed for a ladies' night to catch the ballet of Don Quixote (playing at the Opera off and on through May) with the lovely Maria Yakovleva dancing prima and excellently graceful.  Nurejev choreographed the show specifically for the Vienna which makes it a special place to see it, and I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Sancho Panza as a literary character.  As usual, the ensemble pieces were a bit off but solos well executed, and the costumes were half the fun.  

And who did we catch while walking out from the opera house? That's right, Erwin - on a date night with Anna.  Most people didn't recognize them (or didn't care) but this is as big as it gets with celebrities in Vienna - I would have followed them around some more just to listen to his voice, which is just as amazing when he's speaking as when he's singing, but realized I was probably starting to look like a creepy eavesdropping stalker girl...Guess Dudamel has some competition for my affection.

Photography from the Vienna Staatsoper.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Three Ring Cirque du Soleil

We're off tonight for a performance of Cirque du Soleil's Corteo, which is town.  Looking forward to a magical show as Cirque is our favorite form of high-priced, pseudo-hallucinogenic and magical escapism!

Here's a preview of what's on tap:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Salzburg: Coffee in the Bazaar...

While we're normally faithful to breakfast at Tomaselli's while in Salzburg, this trip we were in town long enough to expand our repertoire a bit, so I'll conclude this "Salzburg week" with the recommendation of Cafe Bazar.

Wood paneling and classic fonts, similar to Diglas in Vienna, the interior of this cafe is a throwback to Mad Men - the only thing missing are the clouds of cigarette smoke, which they've mercifully banned.  Big picture windows in the back mean a nice view of the river - we'll have to check this place out again once the warm weather hits since I can see this becoming an off the beaten path favorite.

Cafe Bazar
Schwarzstra├če 3
5020 Salzburg

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Beautiful Berchtesgaden...

Berchtesgaden is an area we stumbled on entirely by accident in the sense that we came across it while looking for Eagle's Nest the first time we came to Salzburg.  The reason we were "looking" for it was that our hotel didn't seem to be quite useful in helping us find it.

We came down in the morning, map in hand and keys to our Fiat Punto rent-a-car in hand asking the way to Eagle's Nest.  Blank stares.  Mind you, Eagle's Nest is probably no more than half an hour away and frankly, rather infamous for obvious reasons.  So we ask again, nothing.  We describe it. Nothing.  We describe it again...Nothing.  Finally the doorman says " vant Kehlsteinhaus".  Yes, apparently we "vant" Kehlsteinhaus.  I can't tell if it was our use of English that threw him off, or a general aloofness that one finds in general for visiting relics of a shadier Austrian time.

In any case, Eagle's Nest (Kehlsteinhaus) is very much worth a visit - though it's only open May through October because of the altitude.  Also worth a visit is the Dokumentation Obersalzburg where you'll find a complete history of the area as it relates to WWII - they keep that information out of the site itself to avoid any unsavory commemoration.  And both of these locations are in Germany and not in Austria, and it's where the Von Trapp family would have ended up had they actually walked across the mountains like in the movie, as opposed to absconded on the first train to Switzerland in the night.

When not at Kiehlsteinhaus though, the Berchtesgaden, which is the actual resort town that was there way before there were any nests of any kind, is a very quaint resort town that's trying to pretty much just be a quaint resort town.  There is a small town center and great hiking, and we're big fans of the Intercontinental property there.  Arguably one of the best spas we know, outdoor pool that's open year round with a great mountain panorama, and a fireplace dead center of "Rocks American Bar" where we usually end the day with a ceasar salad and a few glasses of wine.

For our fellow bureaucrats and diplomat's out there, book via this link to get the government rate option in the drop down menu, though they will tell you there are no government rates available if you ask in person.  And in the meantime, enjoy these winter shots of the property - as it was snowing most of this trip, we didn't get much for mountain views but we did get some very Ansel Adams like trees.  Not that I am Ansel Adams.

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.

Salzburg's Hazy Shade of Winter...

When we're in the market for a tried and true getaway weekend, the Salzburg area, and specifically Berchtesgaden, is where we end up.  We started going just a not long after we arrived in Vienna, and ever since, we've been heading up there every few months to get a bit of fresh mountain air and a familiar routine.

Here's how we usually play it:

1.  Leave on a Friday after work: in the wintertime, this means you'll be driving in the dark but in the summer time, it means you'll hit sunset right around Mondsee.  Mondsee is the town they filmed the wedding scene for Sound of Music and you can see the church from the highway.  But better yet, pull over at the Landzeit rest stop right before the town - use the gas station bathrooms as they're clean, pick out a treat from the mini-mart and admire the view (or have a picnic at the tables) of the lake and mountains.  Spend a few minutes thinking about how do you indeed solve a problem like Maria.

2.  Friday night - arrive in Salzburg.  Normally we check in to the Goldener Hirsch for the height of "Austrian-ness" (thank you Starwood loyalty program), and head over to Carpe Diem for drinks and light dinner.  Owned by the founder of Red Bull, they serve most of their food items in cones and brand themselves as "finest fingerfood".  Not sure why, but it's a cool vibe, and more importantly it's just across the little street.

3.  Saturday morning - Breakfast at Tomaselli's.  Wurstel and eggs is the way to go and a few coffees, scan headlines, pick out a dessert from the dessert lady if we're feeling really crazy.

4.  Saturday late morning/early afternoon - stroll through Salzburg Old Town.  Any guidebook can give you a good walking tour so you can follow that, and once you're a repeat visitor you can head to the places you like the most.  Salzburg is also a great place to catch up on shopping - for one, it's probably the weekend and you have the time to, and for two, the sales people tend to be much nicer than in Vienna.

5.  Saturday afternoon - drive out to Berchtesgaden (see tomorrow's post) in time for afternoon check-in at the Intercontinental, and cue relaxation for as long as you can.  If it's a regular weekend we stay out there until about six or seven Sunday evening, if it's a long weekend, like this one, we'll take an extra day to enjoy the mountains or see some sights or just linger in the solarium.

Although we've been out on this itinerary many times, this is the first time we've seen both places in the snow - here are a few shots from Salzburg.

Photography by The New Diplomat's Wife.
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