Sisi, cake, and Schönbrunn
Ok, so it’s been a while now (over 3 months) since the trip I took in May with Contiki Tours. I still haven’t finished posting about it, ouch, so I’m going to keep plugging away til it’s finished. Don’t be too severe with me, tortoise and the hare, Mmm?
We did not get so much face time with Vienna; I could definitely have stayed longer. The weather was beautiful – sunny and no humidity, but the city would have been beautiful regardless.
Austria, like many of the countries on this tour, was ruled by the Hapsburg’s family throughout history, but Vienna was one of the Hapsburg’s headquarters, ending with the Hapsburg Empire collapse in 1918 at the end of WWI. Here is Wikitravel’s summary of the Viennese:
Vienna hosted the Hapsburg court for several centuries; first as the imperial seat of the Holy Roman Empire, then the capital of the Austrian Empire, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This tremendously influenced the culture that exists there today. Like Munich, its residents are formal, but with small doses of courtliness, polite forms of address, and formal dress attire. The residents of Vienna tend to be equally modern and old-fashioned. Tourists are treated as if they were a long-lost member of the royal family returning home. This luxurious treatment is one of the reasons that many people enjoy visiting Vienna.
So, while I can’t say we were tripping over courtly, polite people while we walked about Vienna, we did get great service at Sacher Hotel’s cafe where we shared a piece of sacher torte. I guess I’m not quite a cake connoisseur because while I had heard of Viennese coffee and Vienna sausages, I had never heard of this cake.
So we all sat down at the bar and did not even bother to look at a menu since we were there specifically to try this cake. It was busy but we didn’t have so much time to spare anyway. Just a guess but I think they are always busy there. The cake was nice, especially when paired the cream on the side. The latte was great too. D doesn’t like hot drinks so he took milk (on the left).
So we also saw the Hofburg Imperial Palace:
A park and monument honoring Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart:
Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of royal families:
One thing D and I have noticed, throughout our city touring in Europe, is that every big city has at least one beautiful cathedral. In Vienna, it’s St. Stephen’s. Tiled roof is nice, no?
On the second and last morning in Vienna, we decided first thing we would do is see the Sisi Museum. This was mostly at D’s sister’s request – she loved watching a television series called Princess Sissi that was loosely based on the real princess. Entry also included the royal apartments (cool) and the silver collection (okay).
We should have read more at the entrance because the first of the three museums was the silver collection. It is basically a crapload of silverware and dishes from the Hapsburg’s. While this isn’t completely boring, after about 5 rooms full of the stuff, it all starts to look similar. Once we realized this was going to go on and on we skipped to the end. Even so we didn’t have much time to completely enjoy the royal apartments and the Sisi museum (part 2 and 3 of the admission). D was a great sport about it though:
We weren’t allowed to take photos in the Sisi portion of the museum but it was interesting. Elisabeth of Bavaria, or Sisi, was the Empress of Austria in the 1800s.
The history goes that originally the trip her family made to Austria was in the hopes that Franz Joseph would be interested in Sisi’s older sister. She was very young when she was forced into marriage with the Emperor Franz Joseph, and accordingly, grew into a sometimes very eccentric woman. At age 60 she was assissinated on accident (kind of a long story there). The museum did a good job of showing her life in a fair yet interesting way. She seemed to be very concerned about her appearance at different points in her life and in the royal apartments section of the museum, there was a sort of wooden monkey bars set installed for her to do daily exercises. This doesn’t seem weird now but I guess at the time it was very peculiar.
After the museum we had to hurry back to the tour bus; the next stop would be Budapest, Hungary.