Sunday, November 22, 2015

Vienna, Austria

(not pictured is Lizzy's stroller where she was napping)
We turned in our car in Vienna and had intended to hit the city for the rest of the day. However, unknowingly we arrived on Ascension Day which is a national holiday in Austria. This made turning in the car and the simple task of finding food a lot harder than expected, as many places were closed. So after walking around and eating at a Mediterranean restaurant we headed back and had a relaxing time in the hostel, taking naps, talking to family, and watching a movie.
After a day off we woke up ready to get out and explore. We started at the Schonbrunn Palace where we toured through rooms and rooms of elegance. You are not aloud to take pictures inside the palace but every room was mind blowing. It seemed like every inch was dripping with intrinsic craftsmanship and gold. It truly is ridiculous how royals live. Even with all the crazy luxury the Habsburgs had back in the day they still did not have a smart phone... which for me trumps a gold toilet.

After a tour of the inside we walked the grounds which consist of gardens, a gloriette/panorama terrace, and maze. The gardens were beautiful with flowered pathways, huge sculptures and fountains. However during our visit they were taking down a large stage in the main garden so a lot was blocked off. Again due to Ascension day. Off the main garden is a maze. This is not some child friendly maze, but it is seriously hard, but really fun. I would have given up if it weren't for my pride, cause really it took Blake and I a good 30 minutes to get through the whole thing. Then on top of a hill is the glorette, which was quite a hike to the top but once there you have an amazing view of the city from its roof. 
After getting to know the palace and its grounds we took the metro to the city center. The city center seemed to be where historical and modern worlds collide. Starting at St Stephen's Cathedral and walking along Garben street to the Hofburg Imperial Palace you could see these amazing 13 century buildings next to a fast food joint. 

St Stephen's Cathedral was beautiful, and although the pictures don't do it justice it is quit colorful. 

^^ in font of Hofburg Imperial Palace
Once at the Hofburg Imperial Palace, which was where the royal city apartments were and presently where the Austrian president lives, we toured the imperial treasury. I have been to the crown jewels of England so I was excited to see the difference. In London I felt like I was walking into a vault, everything safely behind bulletproof glass and guards at every turn reminding you not to look at anything for too long... but here in Vienna it was more like a museum, which made it more enjoyable. However each treasury had a stunning collection of items. Unlike in London you are able to take pictures inside the treasury in Vienna, which I think is another pro. 

Here is a picture of the wafers
so it you get a chance
make sure to give them a try. 
One things about Vienna I was surprised about was the food. I was 
expecting lots of bakeries like the other places we had been in 
Europe. However they were few and far between. We did stop in a supermarket and find some delicious Manner Vienna Wafers. They were so fresh and crispy that we went back and bought some for the road and to bring home. 

Other than that the main dishes were a lot like Germany, lots of wursts and mustered. For dinner we asked a local on the metro where to get a good traditional Austrian meal. Without thinking he suggested a local place right off the bat and it did not disappoint. It was a small restaurant, but extremely popular. The serving sizes were huge and the food was delicious. I really loved the side salad made of warm potatoes, beans, and cabbage. The ingredients might not sound amazing but I loved it. 

What we have learned about eating at popular local restaurants is if you cannot make a reservation, then get there early. That way you beat the rush and can sneak a table before people come for their reservation time. We got a table with no wait, but had to be out of our seats by 7. Which was not a problem because we like to eat early with Lizzy. As we walked out of the already confined restaurant there was a line filling the doorway and out on to the street.
Vienna was fun, but a lot of the same we had been visiting thus far in our trip. We were excited to be on our way into more of eastern Europe as we caught a train to Budapest the next morning. 

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