Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Sweet Vienna

Growing up in regional Queensland in the 1980s, I thought Viennettas were the world's most exotic creation.

For the uninitiated, a Viennetta is a rectangular dessert featuring rippled layers of icecream.

As you can imagine, in our Homebrand Vanilla household the concept of Viennettas seemed so decadent and classy.  No Viennettas ever crossed our threshold so I imagined it was a treat only enjoyed by movie stars like Michael J Fox or millionaires like Alan Bond.

Over the years, I came to assume Viennettas must come from Vienna, another exotic and untasted thing.

It was only upon eating a Viennetta as an adult and visiting Vienna, that I came to understand that a) Viennettas aren't that great, (b) they have nothing to do with Veinna, and c) Vienna is in a sweet class of its own.

I've been thinking about Vienna during the past week as it's the host city of Eurovision 2015 (the 60th anniversary of the song contest) following Austria's win this year.

Even without having anything to do with Viennettas, Vienna is a city I remember for indulging the senses.

It's hard to turn a corner in Vienna without stumbling across a cafe bulging with cakes and treats of all colours.

While renowned as the home of the Sacher Torte (an apricot jam / chocolate creation), the city oozes with sweet concoctions of all shapes and sizes.

A Viennese cafe window
Vienna - home of the original eye candy
Stepping away from the sugar, at the heart of the city's Old Town is St Stephen's Cathedral - most notable for its dazzling roof.  On a sunny day, the zigzag roof pattern seems to strobe and becomes impregnated on your retina.

The dazzling roof of St Stephen's Cathedral
St Stephen's Cathedral

Inside, the cathedral caters to all

The cathedral's interior is also a feast for the eyes, from the glittering stained-glass windows through to the decaying bones of Viennese royalty in the church's catacombs.

One of the cathedral's tombs

The cathedral dominates the Vienna skyline; no easy feat considering the city is littered with ornate Baroque buildings.

Given Vienna was the birthplace of composers like Strauss and Schubert, and the playground of Mozart and Beethoven, it's not uncommon to hear strains of classical music wafting along the streets (usually for the benefit of tourists).

The Vienna skyline

The ornate Hoher Markt Clock 

In many ways, Vienna conveys the classic and the conservative.

But perhaps at Eurovision 2015 we'll be seeing a whole new side of the city as the bearded Conchitta Wurst stands alongside the more traditional lederhosen?

Lederhosen, not just for The Sound of Music sing-alongs

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