Friday, June 28, 2013

Vienna: Day 2

After a much-needed solid night's sleep, we got the day started at a more comfortable time (i.e. about three hours later than yesterday).  Today's main attraction was the vast palace and grounds that make up Schönbrunn!  Andy was excited to revisit one of the sites he had been to when he came to Austria in high school, and I was just excited to see this royal spectacle of design and construction myself.  It did not disappoint.  Let's just add some photos to show some of the highlights of the Habsburgs' fancy:

Here is the "front yard," the large courtyard in front of the palace where carriages would enter.

 Puffer, of course, came along with us and found his own miniature of the front courtyard.

And here's Andy standing right where he played the violin 12 (he thinks...) years ago.  In the photo on the right, I'm standing on the terrace you see behind Andy, with a view out the front gate.

We opted for a ticket package that cost a little more, but we got to see a good amount of the palace and grounds, including the personal imperial apartments, the labyrinth, the Gloriette (explained in a bit), and the Crown Prince Rudolph's fruit tree garden.  Also, we saw some other parts of the expansive gardens that were just open to browsing.  This place was huge!  Pictures do not do it justice.  Here's their backyard fountain which we encountered on the way to the Gloriette:

The Gloriette is now a cafe, but is basically a smaller royal building at the top of a hill overlooking Vienna with a spectacular view of the palace.

We hiked up to it, and it really was a hike!  We eventually discovered we could get onto the roof, providing some great views, which made it worth the effort:

We then headed over to the labyrinth.  We really didn't know what to expect of it.  There were three main parts, plus a playground for children: one was a maze for adults (can't see over the hedges), one was a maze for children (adults can see over the hedges), and one was a trail through some hedges with some challenges along the way.  One of the challenges was a set of three climbing-poles with bells on top.  Andy climbed up easily, which was surprisingly impressive to some nearby tourists.  I wanted to give climbing the pole a try as well, but unfortunately, sweaty palms and slippery leggings prevented me from getting very far.  I just wasn't dressed for climbing.  Andy then climbed up again, and after that I decided that I wanted a picture of him doing it, so he went up a third time.  Here's the picture, since I made him work hard for it.  (It's taller than it looks.)

We continued to wander around the gardens a bit, where it seemed like everywhere we turned, there was something more to see.  Finally, we found our way to the Crown Prince gardens, where there was a surprising orchard of citrus fruit trees.  We learned that the restaurant at the front of the palace uses the fruit. All in all, we spent about five and a half hours exploring Schönbrunn, and we were ready to relax a little at our hotel after that.

The day was not done, however.  In the evening, we headed out to Vienna's own amusement park, the Wiener Prater.  The park has no entrance fee; however, you must pay for each ride you want to do.  Andy and I tried the Prater Turm, the highest swing ride in the world, the Volare, a small coaster where you are positioned on your stomach, and a fun house.  We left the camera behind for this one, so these are cell phone photos below:

We finished the evening taking a ride on one of the iconic landmarks of Vienna, the giant ferris wheel at the Weiner Prater.  It has cars that seat about 15 people, and they even give candlelight dinners in some of them.  We got to take a spin on it, and tried to get some photos of the night skyline.

A quick note about tomorrow's post, before we close: we have another night train ride tomorrow evening, so during the time when we would normally be writing, we will instead (hopefully) be sleeping.  Vienna: Day 3 will have to wait until Sunday to be written.


ReadingMama said...

From K: I like the pics of the Weiner Prater. Very vivid. (Editorial comment: he thought Laurel's Marilyn pose looked like she needed to potty. We are introducing him to the original photo pose momentarily. Ha! )

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