Tuesday, December 28, 2010

23 Dec Thu @ Vienna -3 to 5 C

The palace located at Vienna's outskirts
I have debated whether to make full use of the weekly pass and travel around Vienna or pay extra and take a train out to Gyor/Budapest/Prague, all OBB train rides of over 2 hours. Finally, money prevails. The hourly schedules and long train rides to and from these places were also reasons to stay in Vienna. The annoyance of missing the hourly train back from Neuschwantein is still fresh and I do not want to risk a night stranded elsewhere, because of the adverse weather. A cold snap is  making its way down from Paris/London and I get the jitters just thinking of it.
Huge palace grounds

We make our first museum visit ( in Vienna ) this day to Schonbrun Palace. It is a stone's throw from Pension Suzanne, by direct train 5 stops down.
After the guided tour inside, it is free and easy time in the grounds.

Like every other museum in Vienna, the entrance fees are hefty. We paid 9.50 euros per person for an imperial ( partial audio-guided ) tour. Being in the suburbs, the palace compounds are still covered with snow. A christmas market was running at full steam with lots of school kids, 23rd Dec being the first school holiday of the season.
A beautiful winter day at Schonbrun

The  tour was informative, well mapped out and timed. We learned a bit about Empress Maria Therese and are finally able to connect her to the sad fate of her youngest 11th daughter, Maria Antoinette, married to the king Louis of France, and later beheaded there.  Of course, Vienna is big on Austria's most popular and last king, Maria Therese's successor and son , Franz Joseph and his cousin-wife, Empress Sisi.

After a very tiring session walking through more than 20 palatial rooms, we went over to the gardens, ankle high with powdery snow. It is a very big place with zoo and all, which we did not attempt. The 2 shutter bugs took photos of the white landscape while I watch the sun tease the eyes with light works on the glittering snow.
Sundown comes early at Schonbrunn
Belvedere, a smaller palace in downtown Vienna, is just as majestic.

2.00 pm. After Schonbrunn, we decided to palace hop and check out Belvedere. A short train back from Schonbrunn, we transferred to tram D which takes us south towards Sudbahnhof. The stop, Belvedere, was situated just outside the palace walls. The palace looks smallish from the entrance but exudes a majestic aura with its ornate sculptured walls. Admission hours would end at 5.30pm in winter, a rush for us, so we walked around the gardens that is at the back of the palace. It is very much smaller than Schonbrunn but has many more beautiful sculptures lining the walkways.
One more day to the biggest event in Vienna, Christmas Eve

Sundown, back in the city, we had a little walk along Stephensdom and then Wozeille to check out Plachutta, where I had earlier made a reservation ( by email ) for Christmas eve's dinner. Bushed from the day's walking, we called it a day and took a train from  Stubentor station, steps from Plachutta , back to the pension at Karlsplatz.

Last minute shopping
Tomorrow, we will see the denizens of Vienna party away into Christmas day. What will be in store for us ?

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