Christina and I arrived in Vienna around 2pm on a Sunday. Since we had most of the afternoon left, we decided to walk to Schönbrunn Palace and see the gardens while we had some sunshine. The palace was situated upon a large green landscape with hills, and a winding trail lined with thick, leafy trees. We saw a lot of people running and jogging–dodging tourists. It made me really wish I had my running shoes! We also wandered around the garden labyrinth and got wonderfully lost in the maze.
We had a mini photoshoot on Schönbrunn Palace’s staircase since there weren’t many tourists at the entrance of the palace. It was fun posing and taking glamour shots with the majestic palace as a backdrop!
But with all that modeling and photography, we worked up an appetite so we found an adorable Viennese restaurant on the palace’s grounds. We were served pork Wiener Schnitzel paired with a white wine called Grüner Veltiner. We left the restaurant full and satisfied!!
The next morning we wandered over to Naschmarkt which was right across the street from our hostel. However, it wasn’t quite what we expected. Most of the market vendors were very aggressive and in your face, but I guess that is to be expected….they did have a lot of authentic meats, cheeses, and veggies but most of the food offered required having a refrigerator which we didn’t. So it was kind of a bust. Christina and I grabbed an espresso and walked to the other end of town, where we stumbled upon this bright pink bakery called Aida. We decided to split Vienna’s infamous sachertorte and apfelstrudel. It was incredibly delicious!!
After our sugar high, we wandered around the city until we found St. Stephens’ Cathedral and the famous Weiner Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) which was adorned with beautiful red flowers. Our next stop was Wurstelprater, a large public amusement park with carnival rides, numerous attractions and gelato. Short on cash, we debated whether to ride the Weiner Riesenrad (giant ferris wheel) or the Praterturm (giant swing). It wasn’t long before we decided on the flying swing! The wind rushed past our faces as we quickly rose to 384 feet in the air. Hands down, we had the most breathtaking view of Vienna from that swing. It was such a thrill and well worth the 5 euros!
Returning to the hostel, we ran into some Australian girls from our floor and they invited us out to a karaoke bar! They had befriended a group of Canadian boys who were also staying at our hostel, so a group of 8 of us went out to Sing Your Song karaoke. Karaoke in Europe is quite different from karaoke in the states. Europeans tend to sing melodramatic ballads or sing songs that showcase their incredible voices. Drunken, forgotten lyrics and slurred melodies are virtually nonexistent because they are all pros showcasing their amazing voices. It was slightly intimidating….nevertheless, our group sang fun, silly songs like Shania Twain’s “Man, I feel like a woman”, “Walking on Sunshine” and “Grease Lightning”. We had a blast!
Our last day in Vienna, we ventured to a cafe we had heard about called Demel’s. Interestingly enough, they created the original Sachretorte but gave up their rights to the Hotel Sacher after a bitter lawsuit. OMG, the Sachretorte was incredible! Absolutely out of this world. Moist, decadent, delicious. It is a 3 story cafe where you can even watch the bakers make the sweet treats! It was so neat! Christina and I were thrilled that we got the “kaffeehaus experience” at Demel.
After brunch, we took the metro back to Schönbrunn Palace where we paid 11 euros to take a guides audio tour of the imperial palace. You weren’t allowed to take photos inside the palace, but let’s just say it was extremely luxurious and regal. There were lots of deep reds, gold scrolled trim, lace curtains and plush furniture! My favorite part of the tour was when the audio guide said that we were standing in a room where 6 year old Mozart played his first concert for the emperor and empress. It gave me goosebumps!
After the tour, we headed back to our hostel to prepare for the next leg of our journey. If you ever find yourself in Austria, always know that “Vienna waits for you”.