A good day after a slight change of plans

Our plan for today was to rent a car and drive out to Krems, Durnstein and Melk.  That didn't end up going so well since the car rental places were out of cars.  Oh well.  On to Plan B - Schonbrunn.

Schonbrunn is the most popular tourist site in Vienna.  It's a UNESCO World Heritage site and is the former summer residence of the imperial family of Austria.  And also, it's beautiful.

We took the subway up to the palace grounds and bought Gold passes for the day.  That got us admission to everything.  We started with the zoo, since we figured the animals might be a little more active in the morning before it got too warm.  We saw lots of cool animals, including hippos, elephants, a variety of small monkeys, flamingos, lions, rhinos, seals (that kept howling), penguins, a polar bear and a giant panda.  It was fantastic - and probably my favourite part of the day.

After about two hours in the zoo, we headed up to the Gloriette.  This is high up on a hill and gives you an amazing view of the palace and the city.  We all thought it would be an excellent place to have parties but according to Wikipedia, it was something Maria Theresa had commissioned to glorify the Hapsburgs' power and to use up some extra stone.  It was a bit of a steep walk up to the Gloriette but totally worth it.  From there, we headed into the labyrinth, the hedge maze - it didn't take us too long to find the centre but we did hit a few dead ends.  From there, it was into the Imperial Apartments.  This is where our Gold pass really paid off - not only did we get to skip the line but we also got free audio guides!  We wound through the first floor of the palace, seeing everything from where audiences were received to the children's room to where Napolean stayed when he occupied Vienna.  It was incredibly beautiful.

After that, it was time for an apple strudel demonstration (and sample.)  We got to watch an amusing young man demonstrate how to make the traditional apple strudel for us while enjoying a small piece.  I think I can probably make a passable version now so I'll be trying it when I get home.  I also bought an official Schonbrunn apple strudel cloth so clearly, I will be successful.

From there, we headed back to the hotel for a few minutes before heading into the oldest part of Vienna to quite literally, wander the streets.  After an early dinner (of schnitzel) We walked down the main tourist street, which was for pedestrians only before coming right up Danube and a pro-marijuana parade of some kind.  It was an odd combinations.  Then, we wound our way back up, eventually ending up at the Imperial Palace we visited yesterday.  We walked past that, found a place to get some dessert and then headed back to the hotel for a night cap.

Tomorrow, we're definitely off to Melk, Krems & Durnstein.  We reserved a car online and we just need to pick it up in the morning!

A kingdom far, far away

Made it to Vienna