21.07.2013 - 21.07.2013 28 °C
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.
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.