Hallo, hallo! 😉
After a brief day passing through the two Austrian towns of Melk and Dürnstein, my parents and I arrived in Vienna the following morning, and spent pretty much the entire day exploring the Austrian capital’s sights and activities.
Now, perhaps you know Vienna for its classical-music scene (with the likes of Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, etc), as well as being the location for the twenty-something, wanderlust film Before Sunrise (a beautiful movie, by the way. I recommend it!). But from what I saw during my visit, there’s more to Vienna than just those two factors. It’s big, it’s urban, and it boasts grand-palace architecture that makes you feel like you stepped back into the 17th, 18th centuries. Really, it was a royal feast for the eyes. 🙂
My parents and I took a sightseeing tour around Vienna in the morning with other cruise passengers. Passed by places such as the Opera House and the city hall (which actually looks like a basilica, surprisingly) before getting off and walking over to the Hofburg Palace, making a tour around the horse stables, wandering through the pedestrian-street quarter, and ending at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Our tour guide was very informative, and had offered plenty of history and facts about Vienna and the Austrian monarchy (especially with Emperor Franz Joseph I and his wife, Empress Elizabeth, aka “Sissi”). Again, tons of beautiful architecture left and right, amazingly so in an otherwise urban city.
Our guided tour lasted no more than four hours, and so by noon, we were pretty much done with it. My parents and I decided to stay in the city to explore on our own, instead of heading back to the ship for lunch; after all, the cruise wasn’t leaving until the evening, so we had plenty of time to take in as much of Vienna as possible.
Since it was around lunchtime when we ended the tour, we decided to find a Viennese coffeehouse (a big culture that I hadn’t known about before coming) for a light pick-me-up, as well as trying the selections of coffees and special Viennese pastries that it had to offer. We went to Demel, one of the most famous coffeehouses in the city. Now, I don’t drink coffee (for personal reasons), but I did order a hot chocolate, and it was pretty amazing: piping hot, and had a lovely, rich whipped cream dolloped on top of the drink. Had some tiny, finger sandwiches to start off with before tackling the coffeehouse’s signature fachertorte (a tart with a crusty pastry and layered fillings of apple, hazelnuts, and poppy seed paste inside. Typically, I’m not a fan of apple desserts, nor that of poppy seed. But this one was especially rich, and pretty tasty! Also was fairly heavy, as it did fill me up quite substantially afterwards. Yum yum! 😛
I wanted to check the city hall again, as I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of it during the sightseeing tour. We walked over there, I took some photos of the pseudo-basilica building, and then we set off for Schönbrunn Palace, one that used to be the summer residence for the royal family. As it was quite far away, we took the metro for about eleven stops before arriving around 14h00. Bought our tickets for the 40-room tour, and headed through the glittering, shiny rooms that Emperor Franz Joseph and Sissi used to inhabit, along with their children and other members of the royal family. While not as stunning compared with Versailles in France (really, Versailles has spoiled it for the rest of the other palaces that I see in Europe!), the Schönbrunn Palace is still a rather lovely place.
We spent the afternoon there, before taking the metro back to the city center, then walking over to our cruise ship docked along the Danube. It was around 17h00 when we arrived back: hot, sweaty, tired, but feeling accomplished.
That is about it for Vienna! While lovely and all, it wasn’t my most favorite city during my April vacation, as I did find it to be too…urban and overwhelming. I found the cold, cubicle buildings that were constructed during the Cold War to be quite jarring with the elegant, ornate ones from the 17th and 18th centuries. Aside from the Schönbrunn Palace, the other landmarks and monuments didn’t really stick with me. Still though, Vienna is definitely not a place to miss for those new to Europe, as it’s one of the big capitals and boasts plenty of good food, including those in their coffeehouses. I would say go for it!
More to come soon- until later!
— The Finicky Cynic
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