Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Vienna (part 1)

Day One

My colleagues and I took SBB train at 1627 hours from Neuchâtel and reached Zürich Airport station at 1820 hours. The return SBB train tickets cost CHF 53 with validity of 10-days.

Austrian Airline

After checked in at Austrian Airline flight counter and gotten our flight tickets, we then proceeded to the transit area. After a long wait, we finally boarded our flight OS 566 (left photo below). We were waiting eagerly for flight meal on board to be served as we didn't take our dinner throughout the journey. Our flight meal was served at last, which consisted of a sandwich and a biscuit (right photo below). This small serving definitely did not fulfill my hunger.

After we had reached Vienna, we went straight to a fastfood restaurant at the Airport to have some snacks to satisfy our hungry stomach. Next we took the S-bahn train to Praterstern station, and walked for about 5-mins prior reaching our colleague's apartment at about 1115 pm. Following some wash-up, we had a good rest ultimately.

Day Two

Woke up in the morning and got ready to walk to Praterstern station at 8 am. Bought our breakfast at Ströck bakery at the station, and then we set off to Vienna's most popular market: Naschmarkt.


Naschmarkt has been operating since 1780s when it began as dairy market trading milk and other dairy products. Later it became an official fruit and vegetable market. Naschmarkt occupy 2.315 hectares of the largest urban market in Vienna and over half a kilometer long with over 100 permanent stalls (photos below). To walk from end to end, it can take more than half an hour.

On every Saturday, there's Flea Market or Flohmarkt in German, at Naschmarkt. It is considered the largest and in fact one of the best flea market in Europe. Almost anything can be found there, ranging from antique weapons, records, china, clothes, toys and even books (photos below).

The main reason for Vienna residents to visit the Naschmarkt is definitely for the food stalls. This is the greatest central market in Vienna for buying fresh foods and vegetables, and also prepared foods such as cheeses, sausages and stuffed olives (photos below).

Over the past 20 years, Naschmarkt has grown to sell a mixture of international products. And our colleagues brought us to a supermarket selling Chinese goods (left photo below). Perhaps I've stayed in Switzerland for more than 4 months, all the Chinese products sold there, even a simple pack of seaweeds, seemed delicious to me.

Besides the food market, do look at the beautiful painted buildings along Linke Wienzeile. In particular building number 40 which is known as the Majolikahaus in German, designed in 1898 because of its amazing floral decorations of the ceramic tiles on its façade (right photo below).

The Naschmarkt is best reached by the U-bahn line; either exit from Kettenbrückengasse Station on the U4 line or Karlsplatz Station that is on three lines U1, U2 and U4. The market is open everyday except on Sundays, and as early as 6 am till 7:30 pm on weekdays or till 5 pm on Saturdays.

Historic Centre of Vienna

Vienna developed from early Celtic and Roman settlements into a Medieval and Baroque city, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It played an essential role as a leading European music centre, from the great age of Viennese Classicism through the early part of the 20th century. The historic centre of Vienna is rich in architectural ensembles, including Baroque castles and gardens, as well as the late-19th-century Ringstrasse lined with grand buildings, monuments and parks.

In 2001, the Historic Centre of Vienna was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Vienna State Opera

The Vienna State Opera, or Wiener Staatsoper in German, is an opera house with a history dating back to the mid-19th century. Construction work commenced in 1861 and completed in 1869. The Vienna State Opera is one of the busiest opera houses in the world producing 50 to 60 operas per year and ten ballet productions in approximately 300 performances. The nearest station is Karlsplatz Station on U1, U2 and U4 lines.

We didn't see any performance due to last minute decision to visit, but could only admire the building façade (photos below).

We then took U-bahn line from Karlsplatz Station to Stephansplatz station on U1 and U3 lines.


The Stephansplatz is a square at the geographical centre of Vienna. It is named after its most prominent building, St Stephen's Cathedral. Several exclusive shopping streets run west and south to its square (photos below).

Tourists are definitely spoiled with wide choices for souvenirs. There are chocolate specialties stores: Confiserie Heindl (left photo below) and Mirabell (right photo below) located conveniently at Stephansplatz.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

St. Stephen's Cathedral, or Stephansdom in German, has a multi-colored tile roof with a diamond pattern and two tall towers which are the most recognizable symbols of the city (photos below). It has a clear Romanesque and Gothic form built of limestone. The cathedral is 107-metres long, 40-metres wide, and 136-metres tall at its highest point.

The North Tower stands 68-meters tall, which is almost half the height of the South Tower (left photo below). Besides the entrance to the catacombs is the Capistran Chancel (right photo below), the pulpit from which St. John Capistrano and Hungarian general John Hunyadi preached a crusade in 1456 to hold back Muslim invasions of Christian Europe.

The interior of the cathedral is impressive with exquisite decoration and pulpit masterwork (photos below).

Mozart House

The Mozart House, or Mozarthaus in German, was Mozart's residence from 1784 to 1787. This building in Vienna's Old Town, not far from St. Stephen's Cathedral, is his only surviving Viennese residence and is now a museum (photos below). We didn't visit this museum due to our tight itinerary.

Lunch at Figlmüeller

After a long walk, we decided to have lunch at Figlmüeller which is located at Wollzeile street (left photo below). This restaurant was highly recommended by our colleagues to have the best salad and schnitzel in Vienna. The Schnitzel is a boneless meat, thinned with a hammer meat tenderizer, coated with flour, beaten eggs and bread crumbs, and then fried. Wiener Schnitzel has become a must-try dish for visitors to Vienna.

We ordered what was suggested, a potato salad and Wiener Schnitzel (right photo below). The size of schnitzel caught my attention which was almost 30-cm in diameter. It was crispy when served and the potato salad was the best I've ever tasted. Total cost was EUR 20.55 per person.

Graben Street

Graben Street is one of the famous streets in Vienna, located at the city center. Most of the buildings in this pedestrian area origin from the 17th and 18th century where finest traditional shops can be found.

One of the most well-known and prominent pieces of sculpture in the city is the Pestsäule (left photo below). The Plague Column, or Pestsäule in German, was constructed by Emperor Leopold I who vowed to erect a mercy column following the Great Plague of Vienna. We then walked along Kohlmarkt where Hofburg Palace could be seen from afar (right photo below). As it was summer period during our visit, we were exhausted from the walks. We then had a coffee break at Starbucks near Kohlmarkt.

Hofburg Palace

Hofburg Palace is a palace located in Vienna, Austria, that has housed some of the most powerful people in European and Austrian history, including the Habsburg dynasty, and rulers of the Austria-Hungary Empire. It served as the imperial winter residence while the Schönbrunn Palace was the summer residence. Since 1946, it is the official residence and workplace of the president of Austria.

St. Michael's Wing

    We first reached Michaelerplatz where Hofburg Palace is located (left photo below). Vienna has been occupied since the Roman times, and the Archaeological excavations in the Michaelerplatz provided new evidences (right photo below).
    Michael Wing, or Machaelertrakt , with its curving façade (photos below) and its 50-meters high dome, dominates the palace façade. Michael Wing forms the entrance to Hofburg Palace from the inner city.
    Just like ancient times, we also enter the museums of Hofburg Palace via the Michael Wing (left photo below). The interior of Micheal Wing is so large that it allows horse carriages to pass through smoothly (right photo below).
Inner Castle Square

    An ornate Baroque gateway connects Michaelerplatz to a large courtyard, Inner Castle Square (left photo below). In the centre of the courtyard stood the monument of Emperor Franz I (right photo below).


    Also known as Heroes' Square, or Heldenplatz in German, is the outer plaza of the Hofburg (left photo below). In the southwest, the square is separated by the Outer Castle Gate (right photo below), or Äußeres Burgtor in German from the circular road Ringstraße.

    On the plaza, there are the two equestrian statues of Prince Eugene of Savoy (left photo below) and Archduke Charles of Austria (right photo below), who are remembered as great military leaders.

    Admission is free to explore the palace exterior.

Hofburg Palace Museum Tour

The Hofburg Palace Museum tour includes visits to Imperial Collection, Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments.

Imperial Collection

    The Imperial Chancellery Wing of the Vienna Hofburg houses the former Court Silver and Table Room, a unique collection of objects necessary for the running of the imperial household. The display of these objects will offer visitors an insight into the culture of dining at court (photos below).
    Among the display are the costly porcelain objects (photos below).
    The monumental Milan centrepiece was commissioned for the coronation of Emperor Ferdinand as king of Lombardy-Venetia in 1838 (photos below). This is the most elaborate ensemble in the Imperial Silver Collection.

    Besides the golden court wares, there're also silver wares collection (left photo below) and fine glasses (right photo below) on display.
    One collection that caught my notice was the Karl Alexander's porcelain collection in the style of Chinese (left photo below) and Japanese (right photo below) decorations.
Sisi Museum and Imperial Apartments

    The entrance to the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments is via the imposing Emperor's Staircase (left photo below), which the emperor also used to gain access to his apartments. We first visited the Sisi Museum where numerous items belonging Empress Elisabeth on display. That was how I've learned more about Elisabeth how the once light-hearted young girl became a restless, unapproachable and melancholic woman.

    After the Sisi Museum, we then visited the Imperial Apartments, former apartments of the famous emperor and empress, where most of which still have their original furnishings (right photo below).

    The admission cost to the Hofburg Palace museum tour was EUR 9.90. Opening hours from 0900 to 1730 hours (Sep to Jun) or 0900 to 1800 hours (Jul to Aug).

Imperial Treasury

As there was still time before our dinner, we then decided to visit Imperial Treasury, or Schatzkammer in German, at the Hofburg Palace. Its entrance is located at a corner of the Swiss Courtyard, or Schweizerhof in German, (left photo below). Though the museum is located in an oldest part of the palace, it has a modern ticket counter (right photo below) and a well-stocked souvenir shop besides it.

Imperial Crown, Orb, and Sceptre

    The first rare treasure we saw was the Imperial Crown, Orb, and Sceptre of Austria (left photo below). The Imperial Sceptre (right photo below) and Orb (bottom left photo) were made between 1612 and 1615, and commissioned by Emperor Matthias, the successor to Rudolf II. Both treasures are partially enameled, and studded with rubies, sapphires and pearls. The Crown of Rudolf II (bottom right photo), later known as Crown of the Austrian Empire, was made in 1602, using pure gold, partially enameled and studded with diamonds, rubies, spinel rubies, sapphires, pearls, and cushioned with velvet.

Imperial Regalia

    Another important treasure is the Imperial Regalia of the Emperors and Kings of the Holy Roman Empire (photos below).

Imperial Jewellery

    Charming jewellery once worn by the Habsburg empresses and princesses, as well as pieces formerly in the possession of Empress Elisabeth are on display in this museum (photos below).
    One piece of jewel that caught my amazement was this 'Neck Chain of a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece' (photos below). The design of the necklace is contemporary while incorporating a Greek myth - Legend of the Golden Fleece.

    Admission to the Imperial Treasury was EUR 12, and it is open daily, except Tuesday, from 1000 to 1800 hours.


We reached Maria-Theresein-Platz after passing through the Outer Castle Gate of Heldenplatz. Facing each other from the sides of the square are two identical buildings (left photo below), the Naturhistorisches Museum - Natural History Museum, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum - the Art History Museum. Opposite the square from the Ringstraße is the Museumsquartier – a museum of modern arts (right photo below).

In the middle of the Maria-Theresein-Platz stood the Maria Theresa Monument (left photo below). This colossal monument honors Empress Maria Theresa, who reigned for forty years and was the only female ruler of the Habsburg dominions and the last of the House of Habsburg.

The monument shows Maria Theresa seated on top of a large pedestal (right photo below) supported on all sides by Corinthian columns. She is holding a scroll with the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713, an edict issued by Emperor Charles VI that allowed women to ascend the throne. The empress is surrounded by some of her closest advisors. Four of her generals are shown on horseback, while her chancellor of state, physician, director of the artillery forces and reformer of economy are shown standing near the pedestal.

The nearest station to the square is Museumsquartier of U2 line.

Dinner at Praterstern station

We then took the U-bahn back to Praterstern Station (left photo below) to meet rest of the colleagues who were having training in Vienna. Decided to have Chinese Steam Boat (right photo below) for dinner at station. The restaurant offered sushi and steamboat, which cost about EUR 21 per person.

We had a good chat with each other till late, then walked back to my colleague's apartment for rest.

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