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August 30, 2014, 8:22 pm

Vienna offers treats for body and soul

It’s a regal city steeped in enough beauty to keep any tourist mesmerized for days.

It’s Vienna, Austria, a city synonymous with history, art, the classics, and one of the best cities for food and fun anyone could wish for.

This is the city where the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Richard Strauss pours into the streets from dozens of cafes and restaurants. It’s the city where Sigmund Freud did much of his work that continues to influence learned individuals the world over.

And it all comes together in one of the most beautiful and sophisticated cities in Europe — perhaps the world — to create an unbelievable experience.

To begin with, you might want to visit Vienna’s famous Hofburg Palace that has housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history, including the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the family’s principal winter residence, as the Schonbrunn Palace was their preferred summer residence. Both are stunning architectural examples and give insight into how the rich and powerful lived centuries ago.

Perhaps one of the best ways to see Vienna is to take a stroll around the Ring, a series of roads that surround the old city and forms a border around the area which contains many of the city’s most popular sites and attractions.

On a beautiful Viennese summer day, you can enjoy all the beauty on foot. On a rainy day, however, you can take a tram around the Ring, still getting to see the main attractions, including the Imperial Palace, the Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Fine Arts, the State Opera House and much more.

Try taking a stroll around the Saturday Naschmarkt, Vienna’s largest and most popular outdoor market, in existence since the 16th century. Today, you can buy fresh fruit and vegetables from around the world. There is also a flea market to enjoy.

Adjacent to the main shopping street, just across the street from the glorious Opera House and near the museums of Fine Arts and Natural History, Parliament, City Hall and other landmarks, stands the five-star Sacher Hotel, home to the legendary Sachertorte. A well-kept secret dating back to 1832, the Torte is probably the world’s most famous cake, loaded with enough calories to sabotage any diet — but well worth it. In fact, Vienna, known for its sumptuous food as well as its breathtaking scenery, is not the place to worry about dieting. Simply let go for the time you are visiting and enjoy it.

Why not enjoy a coffee break at one of Vienna’s famous coffee houses? They offer a great place to relax, watch the world go by, and feature a taste of the delights of Austrian baking, of which there are many.

But if Vienna’s cuisine is remarkable, so is everything else in this unique city. One night I was fortunate enough to attend a Verdi opera at the Vienna State Opera House. All aglitter with beautifully dressed men and women, the Opera House has a first-class reputation for opera performances and the Viennese Philharmonic. Women in long gowns and men in their elegant tuxedos fill the rooms both before and after each performance. Even if you don’t enjoy opera, you’ll surely enjoy having a peek at the Opera House which has existed for over 140 years.

Another day, you can change out of your finery and enjoy a ride on the Wiener Risenrad, a Ferris wheel at the entrance of the Prater amusement park in Leopoldstadt. It is now one of Vienna’s most popular tourist attractions.

Another popular attraction is the Spanish Riding School, the only one in the world that still practices the horsemanship of the Renaissance. Visitors can watch the Lipizzans in training and performances, as well as visit the stables and the baroque riding hall.

And if you have the time and you’re looking for a really romantic and unusual destination, take in the famous Vienna Woods, a popular recreation area with restaurants and wine taverns, as well as the beautiful blue Danube.

I promise you, this is a city you won’t soon forget. I know I haven’t.