Vienna, Austria is such an enchanting city. It is filled with stories, humor, mystery, and culture. Every where you turn, every where you look, and every where you touch tells a story. There is so much life and vivacity in this beautifully historic city that I would return every year, simply to take part of a magical experience. Perhaps that is the best way to describe exploring Vienna--magical. The city is rich with history, what with Freud, Maria Theresa, and Princess Cissi, so one can only imagine what previous historical figures must have done in their leisure and if they viewed Vienna as enchanting as tourists and frequent visitors do. This visitor certainly was mystified and left wanting more.
The day began with riding the subway from the city to Schonbrunn, the lavish Palace where Maria Theresa lived. The palace is colossal with a bright yellow hue and a spacious entryway. My mind immediately ventured to the possible parties Theresa and her husband, Franz Joseph threw. The impeccable lights, entertainment, and scandal that must have ensued at such a party. The partygoers must have lusted to receive an invitation to Maria and Franz's parties. With tours to explore the opulent and extravagant rooms of the Palace lasting 2-3 hours, it would have been tiresome to entertain a 4-year-old, especially when she's bored and she's required to keep quiet. My sister has a set of lungs and she's not afraid to show. Thus, the tour guide probably would have shot her the evil eye while my mother or father set out to entertain her somehow. The backyard is just as spectacular, with an immense garden with roses, gardenias, and other vibrantly colored foliages. And that's just one side of the backyard, so to speak. A tasteful treat was that wedding photography was taking place at the time. Under a gazebo in the middle of the flower garden was a beautiful bride dressed in white perched meticulously on the marble floor while her groom gazes lovingly at his bride. Walking farther along is a backyard with multiple statues and an ornate middle section. Another cool fact is that the night before was a benefit event hosted by Elton John. That's pretty cool if I do say so myself. The setup was not taken done yet, so there was still a stage with lights and seating. Glancing above the setup is a steep hill with a huge monument--the Gloriette--at the hop of the hill. Once I reached the top of the hill, a beautiful view of Vienna. As far as the eye can see if the Schonbrunn in the foreground and all of Vienna in the background. It is such a spectacular view. The walk down is a quiet, relaxing troll down a shaded pathway. Again, my imagination wondered to how many clandestine meetings occurred, with secret lovers hiding away from the responsibility and expectations of everyday life. Clearly, visiting Schonbrunn Palace wasn't merely just walking through an era in history or admiring the architecture. It was an experience.
Taking the subway back to downtown Vienna led to a pastry shop in the subway station just across the Vienna Opera House. Filled with croissants, dark chocolate filled croissants, cheese puffs, and a variety of hot sandwiches, the air was a mixture of tire and moist sweets baked during multiple times during the day. Climbing out of the subway station with bags filled with hot pastries, we took a brief break vis-a-vis the Opera House. From that point, we began venturing down the streets in downtown Vienna. Somehow, we stumbled upon the Hofburg Palace, the birthplace of Marie Antoinette. Situated in the middle of old Vienna, a grand Palace of grandeur and opulence, the face of official business, Hofburg emulates more of an official and political face of Viennese royalty. Walking through the entryway of the Hofburg Palace, we come across Roman walls. Then, we ventured through the corridors of downtown Vienna.
Downtown Vienna is a mixture of contemporary with luscious archaic. There are high-end designer brand houses juxtaposed with old architecture. H&M is placed in an old weathered building with vivid yet tarnished red, close to a rust hue, whereas Zara is housed in a modern and futuristic building. The blend of old and new is magical. Along with eating a delicious ice cream in the middle of town square, with a man playing the saxophone while another talented individual was playing the accordion near the fountain close to St. Stephen's Cathedral. Pausing to admire the Gothic style of St. Stephen's Cathedral, we dined for dinner at a classic stand in downtown Vienna and had the speciality known for its city--Viennese sausages. While feasting on the sausages, we enjoy the grandiose church while noticing a children's carousel, finding the juxtaposition fascinating. As we were making our way back to take the metro, taking in one last glance around the many building, statues, fountains, and delicacies of Vienna, one last surprise awaited us. A group of teenagers and young adults danced in the middle of the square, with curious individuals crowding around the dancers, having to find that they are raising money for UNICEF. What a delightful thing to do. From then, with the metro stop directly in front of the Vienna Opera House, I took in the last sights and sounds of Vienna before returning to the apartment. Needless to say, I plan on returning again. Very, very quickly.