Trip Start Jun 10, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Saturday, November 1, 2008

We love Vienna! It is up there with Edinburgh and London as one of our favourites. Vienna is spilling over with beautiful parks, stunning palaces, museums and art collections to rival those of Paris, and it has an atmosphere that shows that the Viennese certainly know how to enjoy the good life. The café scene here is intense, you would think that there are far too many to stay in business, but they all manage to remain full all day. We had always heard about the Viennese architecture, but to see it en mass is quite astounding. Not only are these 17th and 18th century buildings beautifully built, they are absolutely gargantuan! They take up whole city blocks. We have never seen anything like it. We spent the whole first day simply walking around soaking it up. Stopping of course for a 'Melange' in a café for a people-watching break. Not only does Vienna have a plethora of cafes, it also has enough pastry shops and bakeries to keep Megan running from one to the other to the next all day long... sampling whenever possible of course. We even searched out two of the most famous (and expensive) pastry shops in town, home to many of the Viennese specialties like the "sacher torte". We were hoping to sample some of the beautiful treats in these shops, but they were so expensive it almost felt like we should pay just to look at the stuff. It was a good thing that there are so many other fine pastries to sample in other shops. The city is VERY clean and feels extremely metropolitan... lots of fine shopping and restaurants for any taste (particularly the more expensive). After quite the visually and gastronomically stimulating day, we called it quits and rested up for more sights the next day.

The next day we headed to the Schonbrunn Palace. It is a massive building with an astounding 1,441 rooms all decorated to the extreme with countless treasures and enough portraits to fill an art gallery or two. It was built between 1696 and 1730. Empress Maria Theresa left the greatest impression on the place. She managed to have 16 children in 20 years, ran the country, fought a war for her right to sit on the throne, and still found the time to spend five years redecorating the place. It is still virtually as she left it and as remarkable as it gets. After leaving the Palace we found ourselves in the 500-acre baroque gardens. The gardens consist of endless well-groomed paths that lead to various other sights. We walked up to the Gloriette, a monument to soldiers that has some of the best views of the Palace and Vienna in the background. They also have the Wagenburg, a museum with 36 imperial carriages as well as a zoo founded in 1752 and considered the world's oldest. These are just a few of the things housed in the immense Palace gardens. After a nice stroll through the grounds we headed back to our room to get ready for our concert that evening. We headed to the Auersperg Palace; one of the many beautiful buildings in town that once saw a 6-year-old Mozart perform for the Empress. It is now a location used to hold classical concerts. The performance that we saw was small and intimate. There was an orchestra of about seven people, two opera singers, and two dancers. It was nice to be that close to the action. Being in Vienna even the smaller performances bring first class talent (at least this one did anyway). They were all wonderful. It was about an hour and a half of works by Mozart and Strauss. They mixed it up nicely with the orchestra, ballet, opera, and even a waltz or two thrown in. It was a fabulous experience and a perfect way to finish up our visit to Vienna. We think that we managed to get a good taste (literally) of Viennese life and are grateful for it. This is definitely a place that we would love to come back to and spend more time. But for now we are heading to Budapest for some Hungarian Goulash!

Megan and Kevin
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