a conversation with Barbara Cacao, Founder/Publisher of Vienna Unwrapped
by Marla Norman, Publisher
Vienna is often referred to as a “living museum.” Grand Habsburg palaces, formal gardens and a devotion to classical music can make the city seem formal and even a little stuffy at first encounter. Clearly, the Viennese treasure their traditions and beautifully maintained public buildings, but just below the city’s polished exterior is a fun-loving, edgier side. Barbara Cacao, a Gebürtige Wienerin (native of Vienna) and founder of Vienna Unwrapped, knows all the city’s secrets – whether it’s providing hotel recommendations, securing hard-to-get opera tickets, or sampling Vienna’s best Gugelhupf.
Vienna Unwrapped first debuted in 2011. Says Barbara: “I wrote about topics that were popular among Vienna travelers but that I felt lacked a thorough but person-to-person-style of coverage. I also wanted Vienna Unwrapped to interact with travelers, online and offline. Readers can individually tap into my wider-knowledge of Vienna and surroundings, and meet other local Viennese.”
“Since early 2013, my local event series Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations enables travelers to connect with local Viennese one-on-one, at traditional local coffeehouses.” Barbara’s advice for tourists visiting Vienna for the first time: “Skip one tourist attraction in favor of engaging with local people.”
Someone who’s especially glad he engaged with the locals is Barbara’s husband, Miguel! Barbara describes his initial reaction to Vienna: “Miguel couldn’t believe how clean the city is, or how hot it can get in the summer. On the other side, since he’s from Portugal, he didn’t expect Viennese winters to be so overcast. When he first met my family, he was struck by what he called their ‘Latin’ style. I think he expected them to be more formal and reserved, pretty much like the German cliche suggests.”
One of the outstanding features of Vienna Unwrapped are the Walking Tours. Fun, informative and very affordable, the tours help visitors make the most of their time in Vienna. Guides are knowledgeable and entertaining and numerous options are available:
INTRODUCING VIENNA – Provides a relaxed wander through the city with stops at Hofburg, the State Opera, the Albertina Art Museum and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
TOUR OF THE FIRST DISTRICT – Begins at the Ruprechtskirche, Vienna’s oldest church, then continues to the 15th-century Maria am Gestade, one of the few remaining examples of Gothic architecture in the city. The Ringstrasse and Freyung square are included, with a stop at a Viennese café for chocolatey sachertorte.
ART NOUVEAU – A self-guided tour of the historic city center, blending Viennese 1900-style Art Nouveau architecture with contemporary design shops and fine art of a Bohemian vintage.
JEWISH VIENNA – Visits to the Jewish Museum, World Ward II Memorials and Textile Quarter.
PASSION & LUST IN VIENNA – A scandalous and suggestive history of Vienna’s most notable personalities – a reminder that Vienna is not quite as buttoned-down as you might expect.
THIRD MAN FILM TOUR – features movie locations in Vienna’s Old Town.
CRAZY FOR KLIMT! – If you weren’t enamored of this great painter before seeing The Kiss, you will be immediately after. Vienna Unwrapped provides an extensive guide to the artistic genius of Gustav Klimt that includes a biography along with a catalog of 27 images, discussions of the paintings and where to find them within the city.
OTTO WAGNER, FATHER OF MODERN ARCHITECTURE – See discussions of seven signature Wagner pieces and where to find them throughout the city.
Don’t see a tour that’s quite what you want? Barbara will design a tour to your specifications.
Barbara describes her own perfect day in Vienna: “I’d start off by jogging through the woodlands of the Schönbrunn Palace gardens, or bike through Prater. Another option could be to accompany my mother on her weekly vintage bargain hunts at Naschmarkt.
For lunch I’d have the pumpkin goulash at Café Drechsler, then visit an exhibition at Museumsquartier or the Museum of Applied Arts/Contemporary Art. Afterwards, I’d chill out at Volksgarten Pavilion. Dine at Silberwirt. Cap off the evening with theatre or an opera.”
What could be more perfect?
Barbara Cacao is a native of Vienna. She has lived in and around the capital for 30 years. Barbara founded Vienna Unwrapped to share her insight, honest reviews and local connections so visitors can plan a more authentic trip to the city.