Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Viennaness Travel Guide: Vienna
By Stephen Brook
Dorling Kindersley, 2012
To my way of thinking, the best way to make use of a week in Vienna is to spend one day in the city and another in the country (or outside of the Ring), and to so alternate. You’re thereby assured of a fund of memorable experiences, punctuated by the presence of coffee and cakes, cyclamens and Calvary figures, wine and wonderful scenery.
It’s a policy that works well, what with the Prater and towns like Heitzing so close, and with Baden and the Vienna Woods itself just a short train ride away.
Don’t go whizzing about all over the place, that would be another piece of advice. Devote a whole day, or a solid portion of it at any rate, to exploring (let’s say) the palaces and gardens of the Belvedere, and above all the art on show there. Perhaps break for lunch at the nearby Café Schwarzenberg, where I can recommend the apricot dumplings. If you decide on this excursion, you’ll find that a day is not nearly enough.
This excellent, profusely illustrated guide made planning our week in Vienna so much easier. Many suggestions are provided and we were enabled to arrange our days to make them more enjoyable and richly rewarding.
In the book, Stephen Brook concentrates on the city centre, dividing it into six main areas (the Stephansdom, the Hofburg, the Opera and Naschmarkt, etc.), but points further afield, such as the Prater, Lainzer Tiergarten and the Schonbrunn Palace are by no means neglected. He also includes a mine of practical information as regards air travel, hotels and public transport. Restaurants and cafes are listed. There’s much about Vienna’s unique character and history, and a pull-out map at the back. As well as this, there are maps and street-finders within the book. It is well indexed.
Nestling by the Danube,, Vienna is quite a small city as anyone who has ever beheld it from Kahlenberg or Leopoldsberg will be able to vouch for. But it is rich in history, art and culture and there’s always something surprising to discover. In the church at Kahlenberg, for example, there’s a Mexican Madonna and Child, which is quite startling to see. Of course, the Habsburgs once ruled that far-flung country: a weird instance of imperial folly.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vienna is a beautifully illustrated guide to the city and its attractions that will serve you well over many visits. The many wonderful illustrations do a good job of not only conveying knowledge but jogging memory and sparking desires. And one thing is certain, you will want to return.
About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org