>Days 69-72 (Thurs – Sunday). Vienna.

>I’m going to try to condense my stay in Vienna into one post. I got a little behind in Russia, and then with the blog website down for three days, I’ve been unable to catch up. So while I’m on the train to Prague on this rainy Sunday, Day 72 (perfect time to travel), I will try to give you the “cliff notes” version.

Of course, I have to mention here that Day 69 marks just 30 days left in my trip. So it is now counting down rapidly! Boo hoo! I am having an even more wonderful time than I ever imagined!

Now back to my stay in Vienna…Central Vienna is contained within a ring road, and just about anything within it is within walking distance, although I hopped on the metro and trams once in a while, to save time (and my feet). A lot of the history of Vienna is located within that ring road. The road itself was built over what was once the wall of the city which protected it from invaders. I found it interesting that the central city has absolutely no relationship with the Danube River, which flows right alongside of it.

Romans occupied the city during the second and third centuries (although there were people here as early as 5000BC). The main history centers around the rule of the Habsburgs, who ruled from the 13th century up to WWI…after that war, they were required to abdicate the throne. The Hofberg Palace was their Imperial Palace, and was expanded during each century, with the last and most magnificent wing completed in 1917…

…it was from this balcony that Hitler gave his famous speech, persuading his country of birth, Austria, to join the Third Reich. There was an exhibit that recently opened which recognizes all of the lesser known Austrians (less known than Schlindler) who helped the Jews during the war…the exhibit was advertised all along the streets…

Part of the palace is currently used as the official residence/office of the president, and the display of these flags on the residence indicate that he is currently in the country…


…by the way, their president, who was just elected for a second 6-year term, has no power…the chancellor of the parliament…

…really runs things. The president is just a figurehead. The running joke regarding the parliament, btw, is that the statue of wisdom should have been placed inside!

But back to history and the Habsburgs. One of the more popular Habsburg rulers was Maria Theresia…


…who ruled from 1740 to 1780…she succeeded her father, who issued the edict allowing women to rule, so that he could pass the throne to her. Unlike many other members of nobility, she married for love, and they had 16 children, including Marie Antoinette (the walking tour guide however said that he was known to have many other children besides just hers…as many as 30…is that right? I haven’t tried to confirm that). Most of her children, including Marie Antoinette, whom most of you know married Louis XVI and was later beheaded, were married off to nobility of other countries for political reasons…mostly to keep those countries from invading Austria. While she was an excellent politician and diplomat, her husband was an excellent businessman and he invested in many lucrative industries, including wine and iron (used to make weapons), to name just a couple.

There are a couple of museums within the palace, including the depository, which holds many valuables of Austria, including their crown jewels, which are 1000 years old…much older than the ones in London. I passed on going in to see them, as there was a line, and the cost was excessive (I had passed on seeing the crown jewels in London once for the same reason).

Another portion of the palace…the left part of this building…

…houses the famous Spanish Riding School…I first visited the stables and got a glimpse of some of the all-white horses…

I was told that they only have performances on Sunday, but you can watch the practices from 10-12 each day. But when I showed up on Saturday, they were having a performance, and I was able to get a half price ticket as it was already underway….but only for 15 minutes, so I didn’t miss anything! I got to see the cantering, side stepping, jump/kicks, etc. It was quite impressive. I appreciated it much more, having gone with Katherine to one of her riding classes. You couldn’t take photos during the performance, but I caught a photo of the arena after it ended…


I had my first Sacher torte…

(yes, there was more than a first….I had to compare!) at the Cafe Sacher, the authentic…

I enjoyed that first one with a couple of Aussies I had met on the walking tour! (and did conclude after some research that theirs was the best). Btw, it did not seem that the Austrians have any other culinary delights besides their cake and coffee…I ate mostly Italian while there.

I went to the Naschmarket a couple of times…

…once trying a sampling of their “stuffed” stuff…cherry tomatoes, peppers, artichokes, dates, etc. And the second time to grab lunch (the best salad with grilled chicken that I have had in quite a while). While there, I met a woman about my age from Arizona who is working in the Peace Corps in the Caucuses (am not sure I’m spelling that right)…she was on holiday. I found the Peace Corps concept very interesting, of course, and want to discuss some more with Bonnie when I get home.

I did venture outside of the ring road one day to go to the summer palace at Schonbrunn…


…another attempt by the nobles to replicate Versailles…

I did a guided tour, which mostly included the apartments of Franz Joseph (I think he was the great grandson of Maria Theresia, and he ruled from 1848, at age 18, until his death in 1916), and his wife, Elizabeth. She was known as Sisi…she was beautiful, athletic, but unhappy, probably anorexic–and word is he slept around…her story sounded very much like Princess Diana’s. She was stabbed to death by someone who did it “to be famous” when she was 61. Another highlight of the tour was the room where Mozart played for Maria Theresia when he was six years old.

Another day I went to see the apartment where Mozart had lived after he moved from Salzburg to Vienna, and where he wrote six pages of music per day! It was where he wrote the Marriage of Figaro opera, which then led to the opera Don Giovanni, which I have now seen twice on this trip :-).

The plaza in which my hotel was located was named after this famous church, St.Stephen’s…

I went inside…

…but didn’t climb the south tower to view the city…I heard it gets pretty narrow at the top! The building of this church began in the 1300’s, but it was built and rebuilt several times, and in its last phase, was never finished (the north tower was to have been as high as the south tower).

On my last night, I went back to the opera house…


While the lobby was ornate…

…the theater itself was pretty plain vanilla compared to the Mariinsky, the “temporary” Bolshoi and the Hungarian theaters, the Hungarian one being the most opulent, believe it or not…

…but I thoroughly enjoyed the production which was an Homage to Jerome Robbins…

Some of you may know him for his work on Broadway as producer, director, choreographer for plays such as West Side Story and Fiddler on the Roof, etc., but he apparently started out as a ballet dancer and choreographed a lot for the NYC ballet. The third act that they did was of his funniest ballet, which was good for a lot of laughs…we all need to laugh sometimes! Having been there the other evening, I knew to order my canap├ęs and champagne when I got there for the intermission! And then I stopped off at cafe Sacher afterwards to confirm my vote for their torte! (Don’t worry, Bob and Adam, I am so far still within my goal of not gaining any weight on this trip….all of the walking sure helps!)

I woke up this morning to chilly temperatures and heavy rains, so heading to Prague where sunny skies are in the forecast!

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Location:Stephansplatz,Vienna,Austria

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1 Response to ">Days 69-72 (Thurs – Sunday). Vienna."

  1. imbuckets says:

    >Hey, I recognize that scarf!!!!! You look great. You definitely have to publish your travel log/pictures when you get home. I feel like I've been there with you.

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