We woke up with mixed feelings about it being our last day in Vienna. We felt like there was so much we hadn’t seen, and wondered if we would have enough time. But I will say that everything we did today exceeded our expectations, and we had the best time.
Our first destination: Schoenbrunn Palace, where the Hapsburg Dynasty summered. I read in a tour book that this is the only palace that comes close to rivaling Versailles. I have never been to Versailles, but I can imagine the grandeur now that I have taken in Schoenbrunn. For me, the highlight of this stop was the palace grounds. There were lanes of carefully sculpted trees leading to impressive fountains or courtyards. There were carefully sculpted flower beds filled with color, and huge regal buildings everywhere you look. We even took in a maze and a labrynth filled with “games to play at your own risk”. Here are some of the beautiful sights of Schoenbrunn Palace:
We also toured the inside of the main building, seeing about 40 of the rooms. They were naturally indescribable, but trust me when I say it was a sight worth seeing. Our little handset audio guides helped us along our way.
Next up: the State Opera House. Since one of the things closed in July is the Opera house, we couldn’t take in a performance, but did still absolutely love the tour. One reason is that the Staatoper is an incredibly grand feast for your eyes. Another reason is that we loved our tourguide. She was so effortlessly graceful and elegant and charming. I would like to take in some high tea with her. Not only did we get to see the reception rooms, and also the actual auditorium where the magic happens, but we also were able to go on the stage. Ticket prices range from around three Euro for standing room rush tickets to over two hundred Euro for the prime seats in the house. We learned that the Opera House puts on over 50 different shows during the season, there is a show every night, and there is never the same show two nights in a row. Impressive, no? I can only imagine how much work that would be.
We then went across the street and enjoyed some original Sachertorte and Wiener Melange as a true Vienna resident would do (although I’m guessing that the locals don’t often frequent the fancified café we visited). Sachertorte is a specialty chocolate cake that originated in Vienna and Melange is a coffee drink in Austria. It was delicious, and the waitresses wore old fashioned maid uniforms. They were adorable. (Although I couldn’t help but thinking that if I worked there, I would not be overly pleased with the uniform).
Before meandering down the shopping street – a mix of high end fashion and tourist shops – we watched the police and a pedestrian scuffle. We found the scenario highly intriguing and wanted to know more about what was going down. In my mind, and with my limited vocabulary, I think this guy was walking somewhere he shouldn’t have, perhaps jay walking, and the police called him out on it and then his temper rose and he refused to comply. But who really knows what the real story is.
We stopped by the train station to get our tickets to Prague, then rested up from the busyness at the hotel before grabbing dinner. We had a magical meal in front of the Rathaus. There was a giant movie screen set up, and they would be showing a taped performance from the State Opera house. The outdoor park area just beyond the provided seating area was filled with vendors offering international cuisine. We were so happy to fine Kaessspaetzle – a German equivalent to macaroni and cheese – which my college roommate Rachel had recommended to us while we were in Munich. It was served on real plates and we found a standing table to eat at, when the rain started. The whole atmosphere was fun and energetic, and we were sad that we needed to pack and go to bed for our early morning trip to Prague, because we desperately wanted to stay for the full experience. However, the sun sets ever so late here, and we could not stay up till the crack of dawn. Selfishly, we hoped the rain would not stop so we wouldn’t feel sad about walking away. After 14 drops, the rain subsided and we headed back to the hotel like the responsible (or just exhausted) tourists that we are.