Monday, July 20, 2015

Eurotrip 2015 - Day 11 (7/7/2015) - Schönbrunn and Random Places

As alluded to in the last post, the plan for today was to get in a bunch of places on my last day in Vienna.  This included Schönbrunn Palace, but also other places that I had either initially overlooked (Kunsthistoriches Museum), later discovered (Parliament, Imperial Furniture Collection), not fit into an itinerary for a previous day (Hundertwasser House).  I started the day with a quick trip to Hofer to pick up some more juice and water (I had drank it all in the heat of the night before) and then breakfast in my room.  I then headed out to Schönbrunn around 9:30, transferring from the U3 to the U6 then to the U4.

I arrived at the palace around 10 AM, and the entrance was thankfully far more obvious than at Hofburg.  I was able to skip the ticket line due to having bought the Sisi ticket at Hofburg the day before, though this didn't have much of an advantage at the entry queue.  I took the tour of the imperial apartments (this was included with my Sisi ticket and I believe is equivalent to the "Imperial Tour", thus missing some items from the "Grand Tour") with the audio guide, an activity that lasted about 45 minutes at my brisk pace.  While the stuff on the inside of the palace wasn't earth shattering, palace gardens (really a park) in the back were pretty mind-blowing.  I walked all the way up to the Gloriette at the top of the hill and paid the €3.50 to summit the panoramic terrace - which was probably not essential, but I feel worth it.  I spent nearly twice as much time out in the back of the palace as I did inside, not leaving the grounds until about 12:15.


Next on the day's mad dash through Vienna was a stop at the Imperial Furniture Collection, which was actually located about 3 blocks from my hotel - I only went because it was included in the Sisi ticket.  But before getting there I stopped around 12:40 at the Ströck cafe in the Westbahnhof metro station for some lunch - a toasted open-face tomato & mozzarella ciabatta and a strawberry cake, which were both pretty good.  I found the furniture museum pretty easily, and was not too surprised that the place was lacking in visitors.  After the first couple of rooms on my walk through the museum I began to suspect that this was going to be a very short visit; however, the exhibits became more focused and, to me, more interesting.  I still went through in about 50 minutes (including the temporary exhibit), and left in a (somewhat) hurry around 1:50 to try to catch the 2 PM tour of the Austrian Parliament building.


It took me 15 minutes to get to the Parliament building, but my tardiness turned out to be inconsequential - tours of the building were suspended until Friday (July 10; it was currently Tuesday) because Parliament was in session.  I took the chance to take some photos of the building anyway before walking over to the nearby Rathaus (city hall) as a potential consolation - though I didn't know much about the building or the tour policies.  I found out that they only offer guided tours once a week on Wednesdays, so that was also out.  An interesting side note: a 2-month film festival had set up shop in Rathausplatz, just behind the building - I'm not sure if that's a yearly thing.


Next, I strolled through Volksgarten and passed the Hofburg Palace on my way to Maria-Theresian Platz (no, I didn't plan this all ahead of time nor know the names of some of these places until I looked them up either at the time of exploration or writing), which sits between the matching Naturhistorisches (Natural History) Museum and Kunsthistorisches (Fine Arts) Museum.  The Naturisthorisches Museum was closed that day, so the choice to go to the Kunsthistorisches Museum (which was #3 in my Top 10 Vienna book anyway) became that much easier.  I'm not an art buff, so I don't know if I can pass sound judgment on the place, but I thought it was a pretty good museum (even given my weary feet).  There were a lot of sculpture pieces in the Greek and Roman sections that I thought were pretty cool (I stopped taking pictures because there were too many), and I even appreciated a couple of paintings in the "Picture Gallery".  However, I think the building itself is a more impressive work of art than any of the pieces contained within it.  I spent a couple of hours wandering through the museum (only using the audio guide for the first half) before leaving about 15 minutes before it was to close at 6 PM.


After leaving the museum, I briefly walked through Musemsquartier on my way to the Volksgarden U-Bahn station to catch the train to Landstraße (Wien Mitte), and from there walked to the Hundertwasserhaus.  After snapping a few pics (that's really all there is to do there - I don't know that I would suggest it as a thing to do), I walked over to the Donaukanal (Danube Canal - the city sits along a canal of the Danube, and not the actual river) and walked northwest along its bank until it split off to another sub-canal that headed back in the direction of Wien Mitte.  From there, I took the U-Bahn back to Neubaugasse and found a nearby kebap joint to have a quick dinner (felafel dürüm) before walking back to the hotel.

I returned to the hotel around 7:45, and would spend the rest of the evening there except for a short walk a bit later to go get an ice cream cone (forget what I said earlier about will power) - which turned out to be a messy experience (literally, due to melting).

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An album of all my favorite photos from the trip can be found here:
Google Photos (no photo spheres)
Google+ Photos (includes photo sphere functionality)

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