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Friday, August 30, 2013

Europe Trip Day 8: Vienna

On June 1st we woke up to a glorious sunny day in Vienna and were determined to soak it all up! It was still a little cool and windy but we were so glad to have sun that we didn't care.

We headed over to the Schonbrunn Palace complex by taking a bus from the apartment and then hopping on a tram.

Schonbrunn Palace is the former imperial 1441-room summer residence. It's hard to believe that Franz Joseph and Elisabeth (Sisi) living in the Hofberg palace (which we saw on Day 7) had a summer residence across town. Of course travel then was not nearly as quick but still the two places are not that far from each other.

We took some photos outside before crossing over the street to the palace area.

Then headed in to buy the Class Pass Plus ticket which covered the grand tour of the palace with audio guide, Crown Prince Garden, Maze and Labyrinth (we did not do this), the Gloriette (we made it out to the gardens below this but not up to the Gloriette due to time) and the Apple Strudel show with free portion. All for 21,50 Euro for an adult (kids are cheaper).

They didn't have any spots in the tours that morning so we signed up for an afternoon tour and headed to the Crown Prince Garden first. We strolled around the gardens and under the pergolas and took some photos.

A ledge made a great impromptu tripod.

The boys

Thank you Brittany for teaching me how to shoot in manual so I knew what settings to use to do this.

Then we had lunch right in the complex at Cafe Restaurant Residenz.

I got the goulash, a delicious beef stew, and everyone else had pizza. Megan asked for extra sauce since her pizza didn't seem to have much and they looked at her like that was the strangest request ever. Apparently they don't love pizza sauce in the imperial apartments.

Then it was about time for our tour of the Imperial Apartments. Even though I mentioned there are over 1000 rooms the tour is just of 40 some rooms. I really enjoy seeing the furnishings. It's insane how many different parlor and receiving type rooms there were. Of course no photos were allowed inside.

After the tour we had a little bit of time to walk around so we went out to the gardens area behind the palace where there was the Sun Fountain and lots of sidewalks. It would have made a great photo from afar but alas they were setting up for some event.

We enjoyed strolling around there before heading back near the restaurant.

A few minutes before the next tour time we headed downstairs to the Court Bakery Schönbrunn.

The Rick Steves book says not to bother getting the ticket that includes this tasting and demo but I had a friend say it was fun so we went for it and I'm so glad we did. The Apfelstrudel (Applestrudel) Demo and Tasting was wonderful. It was interesting to hear how many of these they made in one day and how they are the original recipe. They go through all the steps in English and German.

 That bowl behind the flour is a big bowl of sunflower oil that the dough sits in. I guess that's better than butter?

They do not cook the apples first... I guess much like apple pie.

Then you get to have some. Yum yum!

You can choose to eat it like a barbarian if you wish so the Austrians can think "ugh those Americans".

And they have the recipe printed for you to take home. I may or may not have grabbed like 10 of these.

After that we decided we still needed some more applestrudel. When in Rome Vienna, right? We went to the restaurant and sat outside in the glorious sunshine eating our apfelstrudel and whip cream or ice cream and sipping hot chocolate. It was such a simple thing but one of my favorite things about our trip and maybe that's partially because the weather was finally so nice. I highly recommend the demo/tasting and then having some at the restaurant sitting outside if the weather cooperates.

Next we left the Schonbrunn Palace complex.

And headed to St. Stephens Cathedral near the center of town to see the church and to climb up the tower.

343 dizzying tightly wound spiral steps later

We wanted to take in some great views and get some shots with the beautiful weather.

Then back down that spiral staircase.

And inside the cathedral. The colorful stained glass windows lit up the inside a rainbow of colors.

We went back to the apartment just for a few minutes to throw some clothes into the washer and freshen up. We took the subway to City Hall, which is a beautiful Neo-Gothic building.

There was a nice park next door too.

I don't know what the building opposite the City Hall was but it was pretty too and there is one of the trams.

This is where we caught the tram to go to to the Heurigen, wine-garden restaurants, north of the city. After reading about these in the Rick Steves book we decided on the Nussdorf neighborhood Heuriger because it was said to be least touristy and popular with the Viennese. We went to Schubel-Auer Heuriger which was Rick's favorite. He called it classier and the most user friendly buffet. It looked great from the outside. 

But on the inside the food looked 10x worse than Piccadilly so we passed on that and headed back to the center city area.(Not to mention it was full and there would have been a wait) Bye bye dilly dish. I would have hated to see what the other "not as classy" Heurigers looked like. Perhaps we should have chosen one of the neighborhoods that were a little more touristy but at that point we weren't willing to waste time risking that.

After a few misses in the city center (places that were all booked up or the menu did not look good) we ended up at Ristorante Firenze on Singerstrasse. The food was a little more expense that it was worth due to being on a main road but we were out of options and really hungry at that point. The food was decent with the exception of my minestrone being more like a light brothy soup... very odd. All the pasta dishes we had were good.

Then we headed back to the apartment and called it a night. More Vienna to come!

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