Sunday, July 19, 2015

Eurotrip 2015 - Day 10 (7/6/2015) - Hofburg and Belvedere

I was in no hurry to start the day, and indeed when I did I had a false start.  After showering and getting dressed, I didn't bother looking in on the hotel's €13 breakfast, thinking that I could go until lunch without eating.  As I walked by a building next door with an Aldi-looking symbol but a Hofer sign, I noticed that there did appear to be a market down there (it was closed the evening before).  I later found out that Aldi operates under the brand Hofer in Austria.  I went in and bought some danishes, pears, and orange juice (enough I hoped for the 3 breakfasts in town) for a little over half of the cost of a single hotel breakfast.  I took the goods back to my room and had a quick impromptu breakfast.

By now it was a bit after 10.  When I went out again, I noticed that the clouds overhead were threatening rain (indeed a few tiny drops fell), but I didn't bother going back yet again to get rain gear.  It turned out that I would not need it anyway, as the clouds passed by the afternoon and it was again very warm.  My first stop was the Hofburg Palace, which I transited to by U-Bahn.  The palace grounds do not have an obvious entrance, and I spent the good part of an hour trying to find the proper place to enter and get a tour.  I eventually found out that the Michaeler Gate is considered the main entrance, though it wasn't until my second time returning there that it sunk in that this gate was only concerned with the exhibits there (and not the entire palace grounds - for which there are lots of disparate exhibits and entrance fees).  I bought an admission ticket for the Imperial Silver Collection, Sisi (whom I later found out to be Empress Elizabeth) Museum, and Imperial Apartments.  In the process, the ticket clerk convinced me (not that he was trying particularly hard) to get the Sisi Ticket, which is also good for one entrance each to the Schönbrunn Palace (which I planned to see the next day) and the Imperial Furniture Collection (which I didn't know existed) - all for €28 instead of €37.90 (though the cost of only the Hofburg and Schönbrunn exhibits would surely have been less).


Anyway, I first went through the Silver Collection.  This started out a bit slowly, but eventually become more impressive.  Next was the Sisi Museum, which I paid attention to for all of 5 minutes before skipping the rest of its audio guide stops.  The Imperial Apartments recaptured my interest, and I resumed the audio guide for its duration.  After the tour I headed for the U-Bahn and took that to Taubstummengasse, which was the closest stop to the Belvedere palaces as far as I could tell.  After another ATM visit, I stopped at a place called Cafe Goldegg for some lunch (after seeing a vegetarian section on their menu).  The waitress noticed my confusion with the regular menu and kindly brought over an English version.  I then ordered the Ayurvedish Vegetable Curry (Ayurvedisches Gemüse-Curry) and a bottle of Almdudler (described as Austrian herb lemonade, but more like ginger ale).  The curry was topped with quinoa cakes and served with rice and chutney - an unexpected but welcome option in such a cafe.

I next walked to the Belvedere and bought the combined ticket to both the Upper and Lower Belvedere.  Upon entering the Upper Belvedere, I was a bit dismayed to find that the palaces were essentially art museums.  I knew from the Vienna guidebook that there was art in them, but I figured/hoped that the palaces also had lots of fancy rooms - I guess I should have read it closer.  There were indeed a couple of fancy rooms, but it was mostly art.  So I did my best to appreciate the art as much as I could (there certainly were some cool pieces).  And there was a pretty cool garden/park between the upper and lower palaces.  Speaking of the Lower Belvedere, it does have a couple of pretty sweet marble galleries.


After leaving the Belvedere around 5 PM, I walked over to the Karlsplatz station (by the Hochstrahlbrunnen and Soviet memorial Heldendenkmal der Roten Armee, aka Russendenkmal) and took the U-Bahn back to the hotel.  Back at the hotel I rested for a while and recharged my cell phone battery, which was close to dead.  A couple of hours later, I ventured out to grab dinner at a kebap joint on Mariahilfer Straße - I actually had a quarter of a tasty spinach (and feta) pizza; that plus a fanta filled me right up for a cheap €5.  After that I walked back to the hotel, where I caught up on some reading and journaling, as well as made ambitious plans for the next day.

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An album of all my favorite photos from the trip can be found here:
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