A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about vienna

Schönbrunn Palace

By Hannah

sunny 28 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace

Mom and I went out with just the two of us today, as Dad wasn't feeling well and Abby had had enough of trooping around fancy old buildings. We took the metro (oh, how I wish we had one in Victoria) to Schönbrunn Palace, where Empress Maria Theresa, the only female to succeed the Hapsburg throne, had done her ruling. She was admirably tough, fighting wars and maintaining the Habsburg Empire all while birthing sixteen children. She was described by Frederick the Great as "the only man among my opponents".

One of the more nondescript rooms of the palace was especially important to me. Awhile ago, before we went on this trip, I read a book called "Mozart's Sister". It was a historical novel told from the perspective of Nannerl Mozart, the young prodigy's older sister, who was quite the musician herself. The first chapter starts with Wolfgang and Nannerl playing for a small group of royalty. As the young Wolfgang finishes his piece, he leaps from the piano bench, runs into the arms of Maria Theresa, and kisses her on the cheek. Rather startled, the empress nevertheless gives the boy a squeeze back. To my delight, I found that I was standing in the room where this very scenario had unfolded. I had believed the embrace to be an embellishment, the author taking some creative licence and adding interest to the first few pages of her book. But here I was, listening to an audio guide telling me it was true.

Prater: the Black Mamba

Prater: the Black Mamba

There was another room that stood out to me, darkly beautiful and decorated with gold. A large portrait of Maria Theresa's husband was hanging there. When he died, she wrote the number of years, months and days that she and her husband had been married in her diary, and had then converted the total to weeks, days, and hours. She wore black and mourned every day after his death. Despite her deep love for her husband, she only let one of her many daughters marry for love (turns out she was her favourite), and had the others married off for political reasons.

After our tour, we strolled around the gardens and forested grounds, enjoying our time together. Not that we revelled in Dad and Abby's absence, but I will admit that it's nice to take a break from the family dynamic every once in awhile. We snapped some photos of the beautiful Sun Fountain, and hiked up the hill in order to get a closer look at the imposing hunting lodge overlooking the palace. It was blazing hot, and we made our way back into the shade of the trees as soon as we could.

Leaving Schönbrunn Palace behind, we started walking through Vienna, looking for a place to have lunch or a cool drink. Eventually we ended up at a little gelato place and had ice cream instead, mine chocolate and Mom's raspberry. Then we headed home, ready to tell Abby and Dad all about our day at the palace. Upon our return, I promptly beat Dad in a game of crib, and got my first 28 point hand. Yes, this is important enough to immortalise in writing.

Later that evening, we all went out to the Prater to take on a few more rides. Dad and I went on one called the Black Mamba, which you can see here, that spun us around, backwards and forwards, all while our seats turned over and over again. It was equally disorienting and exhilarating. Not surprisingly, Abby and Mom chose to watch from below. We rode a couple more, both of which Abby joined me for and regretted moments later, and then decided we weren't willing to spend any more money on the pricey rides and headed home.

Posted by KZFamily 09:45 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna palace austria schonbrunn prater crib cribbage Comments (5)

Different Faces of Vienna

BY MURIEL

sunny 29 °C
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Fountain in Vienna

Fountain in Vienna

It’s getting harder and harder getting all four of us out for an adventure – could we REALLY be getting tired of each other after only 36 weeks? Abby opted for being sequestered on her own in the apartment, although she did brave the heat for a bit during a short walk. Meanwhile, the rest of us, comrades three, took the metro into the centre of Vienna. It took all of fifteen minutes with the walking, deciphering of ticket sales (it’s always different) and actual ride. Leaving the busiest subway station in Vienna, we walked up the metro stairs into the bright sunlight and were immediately met by hoards of people. Stephanplatz, large though it was, seemed very crowded. And with the tallest church in Austria, Saint Stephan’s Cathedral, dwarfing all of us, I felt claustrophobic. We popped into the cathedral to see another example of Romanesque and Gothic architecture and realized all three of us felt the same way: we were satiated and could no longer appreciate the grandeur. It should have left us awestruck but didn’t ... so I think we need to let some months go by before seeing any more. One note I found interesting is that the church was saved from destruction at the end of WW II because a German captain disobeyed an order to render it debris upon the German retreat. As we deliberated which way to proceed to get to the Rathaus (the townhall), we were accosted by no less than four vendors selling tours. It was quickly turning into a madhouse so we escaped the platz and endured the longish walk to the Rathaus in the considerable heat.

Every summer, Vienna puts on a music film festival, where it shows free movies in the Rathausplatz. The movies are of musicians ranging from the operatic to rock genres. At this venue, there are a number of culinary vendors selling their wares. As we walked through the offerings, we delighted in the sights, sounds and smells of Japanese, Australian, Chinese, Italian, Austrian, Indian and American cuisine (is that last one an oxymoron?) It reminded us of the effort in Ljubljana, only it was even more professional and twice as expensive. Nonetheless, we found a wonderful covered table by the cooling fountain and shared plates of duck with noodles, butter chicken (with all the mango chutney I could get away with) and some Austrian meat and vegetable mixture; all were delicious and we forgave the assault on our pocketbook, telling ourselves we were paying for the great atmosphere too. We may try to get down here one evening when a film is showing.

Swing ride at the Prater

Swing ride at the Prater

The heat sapped all our energy so we returned to the nest to rest. In the evening, we were drawn to the nearby Prater, a large amusement park that sports the Wiener Riesenrad, a large ferris wheel stemming from 1897. As night fell, we enjoyed the sights and sounds of the carnival atmosphere (but not the smells, which were disappointingly sewer-like). Alas, there was no all-encompassing pass for the rides so we had to be very choosy as each one cost an arm and a leg. All four of us enjoyed the Praterturm, a 117 metre high swing although Abby did look even paler than usual coming off it; watch the experience if you wish. It provided an amazing view of the park and surrounding city. Seeing a ride similar to one they had loved in Montreal, Hannah and Abby were eager to try Discovery, a highflying twisting speedy affair that I knew best to avoid. Well, it turns out it wasn’t quite exactly like that fondly remembered ride from Montreal; it was much faster and felt extremely long at three minutes. From below, we saw Abby clutching her glasses and looking quite ill. She said later she wanted to ask Hannah whether it almost over but just couldn’t get the words out she was so scared. That pretty much finished her for the evening. After Hannah extracted a promise from Ben that he would try it with her another night, we retired for the evening.

Posted by KZFamily 12:45 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna austria rathaus prater saint_stephan Comments (5)

Tursko to Vienna

By Hannah

sunny 28 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

We drove and drove and drove today, only stopping for food and fuel on our six hour travel day. After lunch at a little roadside restaurant, Mom and Dad gave Abby and I the 45 remaining koruna (just under $2.50 Canadian) to spend at the gas station convenience store. We each got treats for the road, and were going to have just two koruna left, which we were going to keep as souvenirs. Unfortunately, I decided just to hand the clerk everything, and even after counting through the change twice, he didn't give those two little coins back. I was upset on principle, as well as a little disappointed that we weren't going to have any Czech money to bring back with us. Luckily, Mom had kept a coin. Still, the nerve of him!

Our apartment is clean and spacious, and I like it even though Abby and I have to share a bed. Mom and Dad went grocery shopping, and Dad made what he thought was going to be some sort of delicious Alaskan fish alongside ravioli and green beans. It turns out all they had bought was pollock, and we've never eaten fish that needed more tartar sauce. The ravioli was good, though, and the green beans were something of a rare treat, as they seem to be particularly uncommon in Europe. Yes, I know that the two stolen koruna and what we ate for dinner might not be of any great interest, but as it was a travel day, that's about all I have to write about. Our next post, however, will detail our first day in the famous city of Vienna, which is sure to be much more exciting than this one.

13 days to go!

Posted by KZFamily 06:52 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna travel austria day czech republic tursko Comments (0)

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