Travel Recommendations, Reviews, and Stories: Welcome to The Grain and Grape
Vienna and Bratislava
A few days before Christmas, we took an evening flight to Vienna on Austrian Air. We’ve heard mixed reviews on Vienna, so we decided to see it for ourselves. We also combined it with a visit to Bratislava, just over the border in Slovakia. Once we made it through the 90-minute security check at Stuttgart airport, the travel for the rest of the trip was easy and stress-free. From the Vienna airport, the City Airport Train (CAT) is an inexpensive and easy option to get to the city center.
Vienna’s pedestrian area is fantastic, lots of rambling streets intertwined with cathedrals, museums, the opera house, and tons of people. The old buildings are magical, and the area was all lit up with Christmas lights. There are a variety of shops, from high-end shopping to interesting looking bookshops and antique shops.
One of our many favorite meals of the weekend was when we happened upon a cute Italian restaurant with red checkered tablecloths, La Taverna del Duca. Just our type of place, and since we don’t get much Italian in Stuttgart, we were happy to find it. They have a wonderful house wine, and a chef turning out some excellent dishes, including a lovely tiramisu. After dinner, we looked for an Irish Pub for a pint, and found Bockshorn Irish Pub. Bockshorn is the “Oldest Pub in Vienna,” est. 1991. It looks like a great pub, but it is very small, and it was packed, so we’ll look forward to visiting this one next time.
Soaking in the Coffee House culture of Vienna, we breakfasted at Mozart Café, full of old-world charm, with fancy chandeliers and marble-topped tables. We ate the Best Porridge Ever here! We would definitely like to come back and spend more time in Vienna.
With a little help on directions from the OBB ticket office, we headed out on the train to Bratislava, Slovakia. What a fun and quirky city! The small Old Town is full of rambling cobblestone streets, souvenir shops, restaurants, antique shops, pubs, and historic coffee houses. A pedestrian bridge provides an easy walk across the Danube River to the UFO Tower which has an observatory deck, and there is a riverwalk on both sides of the river.
One foggy night, we visited the wonderful spooky castle on the hill above the river. Wandering back down the narrow cobblestone streets, we stopped into a wonderful pub to warm up with a glass of red wine. U Certa Pub is cozy, quirky, and cool, with interesting artwork on the walls and ceiling. After that, our dinner reservation at Modra Hviezda restaurant was an easy stroll in the same wonderful neighborhood. It included a wonderful old world atmosphere, and we were seated in an old wine cellar. The restaurant’s specialty is authentic Slovak, and we both ate amazing venison meals.
On Christmas Eve Day, most shops and restaurants were closed. Luckily, our hotel offered us a dinner reservation, and we bought a charcuterie lunch from a grocery store. Dinner was again amazing, with duck fois gras, cabbage soup, and fallow deer filets. Marrol’s Boutique Hotel, is in a perfect location, a short stroll to the center of Old Town. It is a get-away on its own, with comfortable rooms, a Library Bar, a Spa, and a fantastic breakfast with everything from continental to the Full Irish.
Christmas Day everything opened again, so we were able to have our traditional pint of Guinness at The Dubliner Irish Pub. We also found Slovak wines to be very smooth, delicious, and inexpensive. Now that we know, our next trip to this area should definitely include a trip to Slovakian wine country.
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