Street art in Vienna

I can’t resist a bit of street art spotting whenever I travel. The easiest place to see a bit of street art in Vienna is the appropriately (and obviously) named Street Art Passage, which connects the Museum Quarter to the Spittalberg district.

Vienna Street Art Passage

This is one of six passageways leading into the Museum Quarter, each one a mini-museum with its own theme. The Street Art Passage features permanent installations by InvaderLois Weinberger and BUSK.

Invader Street Art Passage Vienna


Lois Weinberger Street Art Passage Vienna

Lois Weinberger

BUSK Street Art Passage Vienna


More importantly, it’s an ever-changing gallery of exhibitions by different street artists. Read about them in the mini-magazine Beton Blumen, which is sold from a postcard vending machine on the premises.

Bible Street Art Passage Vienna

The Street Art Passage is kind of the obvious place to go, as far as street art in Vienna is concerned. But it was missing that unique frisson of surprise and delight that comes with spotting street art in an unexpected place.

No, that little kick was something I found elsewhere. Read on to share my discovery.

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Five faves: Things to do in Vienna

5 fave things to do in Vienna

The gardens at Belvedere Castle, Vienna

Vienna surprised me. Born of a long history of wealth and empire, modern-day Vienna struck me as likable, livable, underrated—a city that wears its historical, artistic and cultural treasures with an easy, quiet grace. Though I was there 10 years ago and stayed a full week, I don’t remember liking it as much as I did on my recent trip to meet up with my friends from the Ateneo Chamber Singers.

Apart from being a choir groupie, I got to explore Vienna on my own and was pleasantly charmed. A list of things to do in Vienna should be way longer than this, but for a quick city trip or weekend break, I’ve chosen my personal top five.

See Klimt’s The Kiss at Belvedere Castle.

As a lifelong fan of both Art Nouveau and Gustav Klimt, I couldn’t miss seeing Klimt in his hometown. Nestled among manicured gardens, Vienna’s Belvedere Castle houses the largest collection of oil paintings by Klimt, including Lovers, more popularly known as The Kiss.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Taking photos of The Kiss is forbidden, but I couldn’t stop the goosebumps. Seeing Klimt’s masterpieces up close, it’s amazing how bright and bold they are—just as if they were painted yesterday.

Gustav Klimt The Bride Belvedere Castle Vienna

Detail from “The Bride”, Gustav Klimt

The Belvedere Castle is also a wonderful introduction to the art of the Vienna Secessionists, and the haunting pieces of another famous Austrian artist: Egon Schiele.

Egon Schiele The Family Belvedere Castle Vienna

Detail from “The Family,” Egon Schiele

The Belvedere consists of an Upper and Lower part, with separate admission fees for each. If it’s Klimt you’re after, head straight to the Upper Belvedere.

Have a Viennese kaiserschmarrn and a Turkish coffee at Cafe Central.

Vienna is a star of turn-of-the-century European cafe culture, like Paris, Prague and Budapest. Built over 130 years ago, Cafe Central is the city’s most famous cafe, where intellectuals such as Freud, Lenin and Trotsky were regulars.

For a royal experience, combine a visit to this empress of cafe culture with the emperor of Vienna’s dessert scene: the Kaiserschmarrn.  Plainly said: you have to try the Kaiserschmarrn, and you have to have it here.

Vienna kaiserschmarrn at Cafe Central

The modest description “shredded pancake” did not prepare me for this fluffy mountain of cake, crowned with crunchy jewels of burnt caramel and a glossy, ruby-red sauce of stewed plums. It was my first meal of the day, so I attacked it with gusto; however, faced with a serving platter that could easily feed two or three (for just €8.50!), eventually I surrendered to the mighty Kaiserschmarrn.

Why a Turkish coffee and not a cafe Vienna? Personally, I found the Wiener Melange, a kind of Viennese cappuccino, kind of bland. This Turkish coffee, served in a copper pot, is the real stuff—a potent brew worthy of the magnificent Kaiserschmarrn.

It’s also a nod to Viennese history: at the height of its power, the Ottoman Empire attempted to capture Vienna twice, with two sieges 150 years apart. If the Turks had managed to capture and rule Vienna, who knows how Europe might look today?

Oh, and hey, Cafe Central is gorgeous too.

Vienna Cafe Central interior

It’s a celebrity in the cafe scene, but there are many others worth visiting in Vienna. Check out this great guide to Vienna’s cafes—I’ve bookmarked it for a return visit.

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Rested, refreshed and ready to blog

I’m back!

Riga and Jurmala Instagram summer

I’m back from a two-week trip to Latvia, and a quickie city trip to Vienna just before that. Now I’m happy to say I’m not just back from my holiday, but I’m back to blogging, too. Thanks for waiting for me, encouraging me, and maybe even missing me!

Time away from the computer has done me good. I managed to accomplish an important career milestone (landed my first Dutch client!), enjoy the beautiful summer we’ve been having in Amsterdam, allow thoughts (future ideas for blog posts?) percolate in my head. I’ve had time to read, rest and refocus. And of course, travel.

Travel is such a re-energizing force for me. I enjoyed my Latvia trip so much, and feel so inspired to share more about this underrated travel destination. Because I traveled to Latvia to spend time with dear friends from back home, this trip also allowed me to reconnect with a part of me that I left behind when I moved abroad seven years ago.

Finally, choosing to travel at a slow, relaxed pace gave Marlon and myself the space to savor long conversations and comfortable silences, to talk about our future and dream together. This is exactly the kind of thing that keeps us going.

And these are the exactly the kinds of things that keep me going (and writing): music, friends, food, travel, laughter, love, life. So I’m back. I’m not hopping back onto the relentless hamster wheel of the editorial calendar, but I’m back and I’m here to stay.

In my next few posts, I will share about my time in Vienna, Riga and the Baltic coast—and perhaps a few things I’ve realized along the way. Time to get writing!


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When blogging fatigue strikes

Getting over a blogging slump

You may have noticed that it’s been quiet around here lately. You may have also noticed that the blog’s been sporting a new look, but that I haven’t said anything about it yet.

I suppose I wouldn’t be a blogger if I didn’t get to the point where I wanted to stop blogging. I’ve been blogging since 2003, and I never really thought it would happen to me, but here it is: the dreaded blogger’s fatigue. Perhaps it’s inevitable in a blogger’s life, like a rite of passage.

For the last couple of weeks I haven’t even wanted to look at my blog. I’ve ignored the drafts on my editorial calendar, the folders of carefully selected photos on my desktop, the unwritten posts from New York, which was three months ago. It’s not that fun things haven’t happened to me in the last few weeks, or that I haven’t had great ideas; I just haven’t wanted to write about them.

What’s really sucked the soul from my blogging self is that my redesign didn’t end the way I hoped it would. After finishing my new logo and branding, and putting up a basic, functional blog in time for The Hive, the U.S.-based designer I hired just… disappeared. POOF! With a few hundred dollars of (fully paid) design work left to go.

No response to emails, no updates on social media, total radio silence for more than a month. (As a professional providing a service to a paying client, can you really ignore them for a month?!) I tried to be understanding and accommodating; I was actually worried, until I discovered that her LinkedIn profile was deactivated about a week ago. That sends quite a different message, doesn’t it?

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Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers Day 2014

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there!

Marlon is in Stockholm for a speaking engagement, and we started missing him even before he left (yes, that’s possible). He hasn’t had to be away for more than five or six days for work, but it’s still difficult when he’s away. Even when it’s easy, it’s just… not as fun. I don’t know how the families whose dads travel frequently or are based abroad do it.

I’m lucky to have had a mom who was both mother and father to me, but this time of year I’m also filled with a nostalgia for something I never really had. It seems everyone is changing their Facebook profile photos to show fathers walking them down the aisle or playing the doting grandfather; in my photos, Dad is eternally young, and I’m still a chubby, curly-haired baby.

I guess by now you’ve seen Dove’s sniffle-inducing Father’s Day ad? It doesn’t have to be Father’s Day to make me grateful for Tala to have a chance at all of that. And isn’t that all parents want for their children—to give them something they never had?

Okay, enough sentimental jibber-jabber. I hope you’re showing the dads in your life how special they are today. Time to think up something fun for the dad in our life when he gets back from Stockholm!

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