We stayed up when we got there and visited the Schonbrunn Palace but everyone refers to it as a castle. I would call it a museum before I would call it a castle. It is one of the most popular attractions to go see, so I didn't want to miss it. I had forgotten how much I dislike the Rococo period. We took a self-guided tour, the kind where you hold up the recording to your ear after you punch in the number of the room you are looking at to hear a voice tell you about who's bedroom you're in.
My observations: you have to walk through many bedrooms to get to the dining room or even outside. You walked from room to room, but there were no hallways. How awkward would that be? Don't mind me, brother, I'm just going outside... Also, Maria Theresa had some ugly kids. Lots of ugly kids.
We walked through the main part of the gardens and hiked up the hill to the Gloriette. That was my favorite part (and it was free). My recommendation to the common visitor, unless you are very cultural, live for visiting museums, and love the Rococo period, skip the tour and head for the gardens. And wear walking shoes or don't bitch about your feet hurting. It's your choice.
|The view of the gardens from the back of the "Castle"|
|We could have walked through the tree covered trails. Would be a great place to run.|
|Side view of the fountain|
|The view from the back of the fountain.|
|The city view from the Gloriette|
|There was a restaurant in the Gloriette. Glad we didn't eat there because I would never be able to choose.|
|The back of the "Castle"|
|How often do you see a phone booth?|
For dinner the first night, I had no idea what I was ordering. Trying to find something to drink in a foreign country is not a challenge I enjoyed. So I often settled for "still water" as opposed to sparkling "moving" water. I know, how boring. But YOU try to find something on a menu you can't understand. Even the English menus left much to be desired.
I wanted something like a sprite and the waiter recommended Almdudler. It tastes like gingerale and it was good. The only ice I saw all week was when my coworkers ordered bottled tea. There would be like 3 cubes in the glass, maybe. These little glasses were common. I consider them the size of an American juice glass. This is how much water you get if you order tap water too (if your waiter/waitress understands what "tap" water means). I don't know how they stay hydrated. Oh yea, they know how to decipher the beer/wine menus.
|Almdudler was like gingerale|
|My coworkers dish--meat, sour kraut, bread. Can't remember what they call this.|
|My other coworkers dish--salmon on pasta with leek sauce. Wish I had gotten this!|
|Chicken smothered in a mushroom sauce--it was very good although greasy|
|My dessert--some kind of dumpling|
|Plum jelly was inside the dumplings covered with buttered bread crumbs--it was OK|
Monday evening we had a group dinner planned. I have to say this was my favorite part of the trip. My Viennese coworkers were so entertaining and helpful with food and drink suggestions and I personally enjoyed their company. We went to a "bier garten". I learned their way of saying cheers is "Prost"!
|My schnitzel, cold potato salad, and Murauer beer. Loved it all!!!|
|My coworkers pork medallions look of Brazilian influence to me, yummy|
|My dessert: hot plum liquor with cream. AMAZING!|
|Various desserts. The bottom one is broken up pancakes.|
|Ice cream with hot raspberry sauce is called "hot love" --snicker--|
Tuesday we visited St. Stephen's Cathedral. There was a service being held (on a Tuesday--I have no idea what service it was?). I was surprised that we could still walk in and look around. The building was beautiful.
|What we saw when walking in and looking back|
|Very large organ|
|I didn't notice the clock until after dinner|
Saw this beautiful display at a store that was closed. So many shops close early. The only shopping I could do was at the airport on my trip home. So sad.
|It was probably best they were closed, at least for my wallet's sake|
The sauce was a cream mushroom sauce and it was divine. Honestly, I like my pasta done just a little more than al dente, especially fresh pasta, and this was cooked perfectly al dente so I was hoping for less toothiness. But the sauce made the ravioli so wonderful, I got over it quickly. This was a great dish, but I was still hungry when I was done licking my plate as there were only 5 or 6 ravioli's. Luckily we went for dessert.
|The tall display of cones was mesmerizing, and the case was filled with wondrous delights|
Wednesday evening brought another group dinner. We went to an amusement park called Prater. Unfortunately we did not have time to walk around the amusement park. I wanted to see the arcades and look at the pinball machines. I hear there were a couple of arcades with machines there. But we had a long business dinner, so it wasn't meant to be. Fortunately we showed up 20 minutes early and got to see in person the tallest swing I've ever seen located very close to the restaurant at which we were dining. Who isn't up for a little adventure?
|Looks sooooooooo tall!|
|I was ready for a nice breeze|
|I'm the one with legs straight out, I don't know why|
|I have a Volken death grip on the chains|
|Old fashioned carousel drawn by horses at Prater|
|Mascarpone lemon vodka ice cream with kiwi fruit. BEST DESSERT EVER!|
|Nice beer to sip on a patio while being eaten alive by mosquitoes|
Various thoughts on my trip:
Ever look at Yelp for a restaurant and all the reviews are in German? Yea, real helpful. At least the star rating is a universal symbol. Not that I could actually find the restaurant anyway.
Sweating my balls off in the back of a taxi was something I endured commonly. Why drivers don't consider the people in the back are SUFFERING HEAT STROKE, I will never understand. But a little juice glass of water later, and all is well, no?
Fortunately, I had a window seat on the way back. I was supposed to have one on the way there, but they reassigned my seat 3 times, and I had an aisle going over. On the way home, we flew over different continents and I could actually see land. Over Greenland, I saw snow!
I saw sunflower fields on the way to the Vienna airport. They were so gorgeous.
Staples are brass colored there. They would probably think our silver staples are weird.
Traveling in coach sucks. There is no other way to put it. It's brutal. My whole schedule was messed up the entire week because I did not sleep the entire way there (or back), and then I forced myself to stay up so that I would acclimate once in Vienna (and at home once I got back).
Girlfriends who want to travel Europe when you retire: have fun. It's not for me, and honestly I never thought it would be. I'd rather tent camp without an airbed-on-stilts than fly over the big pond. My back would feel the same. My total travel time back on Friday from the time I left the hotel to the time I arrived home was 18 hours in duration, and I caught an earlier flight for my last leg home.
Prost to being home!