Congratulations to Adele Ziminski for Winning the August 2015 Barefoot Writing Challenge! (Your $100 prize is on its way!)
The Challenge was to write an essay that answered this question:
Write an essay that convinces us to visit your favorite vacation destination.
Adele took us on an enchanting, description-heavy tour of “the world’s most Imperial city.” Enjoy her winning submission:
Vienna, My Hometown
Vienna has been the home of Holy Roman emperors, Mozart, Salieri, Freud, and, more recently, several branches of the United Nations. When international venues are required for diplomatic meetings, Vienna is the city of choice, and has been since the Congress of Vienna in 1814.
Twenty-five years have passed since my first sojourn in Vienna, and very little has changed. Some restaurants and hotels have closed, and new ones have taken their place, but the grand imperial charm of the city is undiminished. It is still a city of monumental palaces, great music, fine wines, delicious pastries, and, of course, elegant balls.
When friends visit, they expect me to show them the “real” Vienna. Where to start on a tour of a centuries-old city that has been the center of civilization for much of its existence? I always start with a café.
There is nothing more typical of the Viennese lifestyle than a café. One can linger at a table for several hours by ordering just one cup of coffee. The famous Viennese pastries are displayed under glass, mouth-watering indulgences requiring only that you walk over and point. Cafe Oberlaa features a chocolate mousse torte that tastes as though it were baked by angels. Demel’s is renowned for its Sachertorte, and the Hotel Imperial offers its trademark Imperial Torte. Some cafés have added light meals — but primarily, the café is a place to meet and talk. If you want to understand the “real” Vienna, spending time in a café is a must.
Leaving the café, I lead my friends down the narrow cobblestone streets behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the heart of the city. We peek into medieval courtyards and admire Baroque churches, fountains, and monuments from bygone eras.
Just as we are becoming exhausted by the input of beauty and history, we arrive at another famous Vienna “must-see,” The Twelve Apostles Keller.
Before I tell you more about our next stop, let me explain … Vienna is surrounded by vineyards. Tasting local wines is part of the fun, and a visit to the Imperial City is not complete without an evening at a Heuriger — a rustic wine tavern with tables and benches, both inside and in the courtyard. Most are located on the outskirts of the city in the Vienna Woods.
However, the Twelve Apostles is a “City Heuriger,” right in the historic center of Vienna. Upon entering, you descend to the three subterranean levels where it boasts that you can “Party like it’s 1339!” It offers a variety of wines, both white and red, and its house specialty, black currant wine. The menu ranges from simple fare such as frankfurters or slices of crusty bread and cheese to Knödel, Strudel, and Wiener Schnitzel. Musicians arrive at 7 p.m. and add to the general merriment.
Vienna’s wonderful public transportation will convey you safely home when you are ready to call it a night.
Falling asleep, you can rest secure in the knowledge that when you awaken, Vienna will remain unchanged, waiting for you to continue your explorations of the world’s most Imperial city.