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Nov 11 2015

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Vienna: Old Europe Meets the New West

By Ron Stern, Travel Photojournalist

Vienna is the second fastest growing city in Europe. Why, you ask?

Here are a few reasons.

When the Turks fled this city in 1683, they left behind a hoard of coffee beans. What followed was an entire culture built around this hot beverage. Today, take your pick from among scores of Viennese Kaffeehauses.

2015 marks the 150-year anniversary of the Ringstrasse, a 5 km circle that contains some of the most important imperial architectural works dating from 1865. Commissioned by Emperor Franz Joseph, the Ringstrasse is the largest construction project in Vienna’s history and was designed to be a grand showcase of public and private buildings. Walk or take a dedicated bus to visit the historical monuments, which include the University of Vienna, the Museum of Natural History and the old stock exchange.

Located in Leopoldstadt in the 2nd municipal District of Vienna, the Prater is one of the top attractions for tourists. The Wurstelprater, considered the oldest amusement park in the world. This is an ideal family destination with rides, bumper cars and their showpiece, the Wiener Riesenrad or ferris wheel. Standing at an imposing 212 feet in height, this is a slow moving affair affording amazing views of the city skyline.

Austrians love to shop, and the Graben in the city center boasts local and upscale retail shops and cafés. Situated among palaces and churches such as Saint Stephen’s, this is where you can explore the historic and modern in the same
afternoon.

Food is as diverse as you might expect in an international city like Vienna, but while you’re here, you will want to indulge in the local cuisine. This could be sausage, beef with dumplings or the classic wiener schnitzel with rösti potatoes. Wash it down with a local beer or wine, and you have the end of a perfect meal. More info: www.austria.info.

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