Vienna - Take a Walk on the Genteel Side
Wonderful to be in Vienna, one of my favourite cities, for a few days. Vienna is bourgeois, cultured and contented and not ashamed to exhibit any of these traits. Its high-European cultural heritage has provided it with the dignity and maturity not to feel it has to reinvent itself as an edgy or 'cool' destination, although it has elements of this too if you're looking for it.
A Vienna travelcard and museum card will get you where you want to go. I fitted in the culture between the cafés. Café musings to follow.
Let's consider Viennese retail here. Actually, before we get onto the shops of Vienna, we talked about travel essentials recently and I forgot to mention a really important one - the Daines and Hathaway travel tray.
Daines and Hathaway Travel Tray
A travel essential, this is the Missisipi Croc version of the travel tray lined with green suede. The studs at the corner mean that it packs flat, taking up next to no room in your Globe-Trotter.
A travel tray is something that, once discovered, you wonder how you ever managed without. Sums up my feelings about Vienna.
You want a trilby, a pipe, an elaborate shoe-horn or a pair of riding boots? And why wouldn't you? No problem, Vienna has it.
On this level, Vienna certainly passes the arbitrary indicators for our Tweed Pig Index of Civilised Cities. As we've said before, if you can walk out of a hat shop and into a tobacconists, you're in a civilised city.
The big name in Viennese hats is, of course, Muehlbauer. This artisan hat maker, a century-old family business, has a shop in Seilergasse.
Above we see the Karl Panama in blue and white.
I seemed to recall a shop selling Tricker's shoes that were hung for sale like rabbits outside a butcher's shop on my last visit. I couldn't find it this time. Can any Viennese residents confirm that such a shop exists or existed? Was it just a marketing idea of my imagination? It would have made a great photo.
Rudolf Scheer & Söhne (1816), the fine Viennese shoemakers, certainly do exist. A seventh-generation family business, the shop is in Bräunerstrasse, in the very centre of Vienna near Stephansplatz.
The remarkable shoe below is their mid-brown ankle boot in calf leather and cotton felt with ivory buttons.
Choose your time right and you can have a quiet moment and a delicious slice of Sachertorte in that tourist magnet, but classic all the same, Demel (1786). The Demel pastry and chocolate shop is a Viennese institution and is located in Kohlmarkt.
Demel was the first place that served the world famous Sachertorte. However, after legal wrangling, Vienna's Hotel Sacher has the right to call itself the home of The Original Sachertorte. The torte has a troubled but delicious history.
J. & L. Lobmeyr (1823), the Viennese glassware people in Kärntnerstrasse, recently collaborated with our very own dear Vivienne Westwood to produce the tumbler below. See, the Viennese can be edgy if they want to be.
Tweedy's Thought: Fascinating Lobmeyr's involvement in the Wiener Werkstätte. We'll stay in the shallows and leave a discussion on that movement for another day. Whither romantic art movements?
Top Photo: Teabags from a selection at Haas Haas in Vienna.