The day in Vienna, however, was long from over! Daddy and Jutka had purchased tickets for us to see a performance. The performance was held at the palace and was not at all what I expected! We walked into the palace’s side entrance and everything was very formal. The seats were set up and there was a concert hall. There weren’t many other people there, as it was a smaller event. I assumed stadium seating or something like that. It was intimate, and classic. There were musicians who were breathing hard to make sure they hit every note on their instruments, ballet dancers, and an opera singer. Each session of the performance was startling and beautiful. Although I don’t know a lot about music, I could tell that music was these people’s lives. The main man who led the group seemed like a brilliant genius. It was hard to take my eyes off the group. But I did, to look around the beauty of the space. I had to keep pinching myself. “I’m in Europe! I’m in Vienna! I’m watching a performance of Mozart in a palace!”
Afterward, we walked back to the train. The lights of the city were so special. I tried to remember it all in my heart. The smells, the sounds. Dustin stopped and purchased a vienna sausage (hot dog) as we walked. Once we were back at the hotel. I slept really soundly.
I was tired and needing a break. Dad suggested a special place called Cafe Central. Cafe Central has been a part of Vienna’s culture forever. This cafe is one of the most magnificent places I’ve ever had the privilege of eating at. As we walked through the narrow streets of the city, dad pointed out the Hofburg Imperial Palace. The palace was just standing there, right beside you as you walked the street. What shocked me was the quiet. The city was so quiet and the only smell was from horses, the imperial horses, that is. A little bit about the palace: “The Hofburg Imperial Palace has played an integral part of the Austrian government scene since it was built in the 13th century. It has been home to some of Europe’s most powerful royalty over the centuries, including the Hapsburgs and rulers of the Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Today it is a museum and home to the president of Austria.”
The Lippizan Stalions are also from Vienna, as we walked, we did pass where they were kept. It was dark in the arena, but I pushed my nose up against it to get a glance at some of the horse’s feet. The inside of the performance space for the horses looked like a palace itself. The Spanish Riding School is a traditional riding school for Lipizzan horses that offers public performances in the Winter Riding School in the Hofburg. “The Riding School calls these performances classical dressage, but most viewers would call it magic. The school has been training horses like this for more than four centuries. The 68 stallions – their ancestors came from Spain – have trained and performed at the Winter Riding School since about 1735. Horses and riders both undergo special training that lasts for many years.”
Well, the desserts and coffee were delicious. I tried some mini desserts that were the cutest thing in the world. We also had an apple danish with homemade ice cream. Each time you ordered a cup of coffee in Europe, it came with a glass of water “with gas” meaning carbonated. I would ask for it without gas because I liked still water best. The coffee would also come with a small mint. I liked this place so much that I purchased a book with recipes and the history. It was truly magical, even though we had to wait a bit for a seat.
After eating our full at Figlmullers, we took a double decker bus around the city for a break on our feet. We sat on the top and just took in the sites. There were headphones and you could hear Mozart and other famous musicians from Vienna playing music. I learned so much just from that tour.
Dad had us get off at Schonbrunn Palace. Although we didn’t go in, we walked around and looked in the windows. We also walked around the gardens. There was a coffee shop at the very top of a large hill. Although my feet were so achy, we climbed up and enjoyed a drink up there. The scenery was beautiful and I can’t imagine how it looks with flowers! I had never been to a real palace before, so this was really neat. Wikipedia says, Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna, Austria. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. Since the mid-1950s it has been a major tourist attraction. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. What really stood out to me is that Mozart played there and essentially began his career there. His family traveled three weeks so he could play for the imperial family and he was only six years old.
After exploring the palace, we got back on the bus and toured the rest of the city. I felt like we got to see so much on the bus because on foot, it was difficult to see a lot. We learned that Vienna has the oldest zoo in the world and it began in 1752. We also saw the Vienna Armory, although we didn’t go inside. Dad did have us jump off for the breathtaking Belvedere Complex. The pictures we took in front of it were fantastic and it looks brilliant reflected in the water. Wikipedia says, The Belvedere is a historic building complex in Vienna, Austria, consisting of two Baroque palaces (the Upper and Lower Belvedere), the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape in the third district of the city, on the south-eastern edge of its centre. It houses the Belvedere museum. The grounds are set on a gentle gradient and include decorative tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. The Baroque palace complex was built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy. The Belvedere was built during a period of extensive construction in Vienna, which at the time was both the imperial capital and home to the ruling Habsburg dynasty. This period of prosperity followed on from the commander-in-chief Prince Eugene of Savoy’s successful conclusion of a series of wars against the Ottoman Empire.
Other places we stopped at included an underground food court where we tried different foods and shopped. This underground space connected to the subway and also was below the Vienna Operahouse. I had to go to the bathroom. There was a very interesting bathroom called the Opera Toilet. You pay to go in and literally listen to classical music while you do your thing. The space is decorated like an opera and there was a mirror on the inside of the bathroom stall to take a commemorative picture. (I did). Some of the souvenirs we picked up included coffee liqueur, chocolate truffles, magnets, and a little music box that played Mozart.
The next morning, dad woke up up with coffee from McDonalds. I usually stick my nose up at coffee from Mc’Ds, but this was fabulous! He hurried us along as we got ready to explore Vienna. Good walking shoes? Check. Water? Check. Snacks? We were prepared. Across the street from our hotel was a bright green city train. The train went back and forth between the city and airport. It was a double decker train with comfy seats and flat screen TVs with the news and other local information. On our way to Vienna, the countryside looked a lot like the United States. There were a lot of industrial buildings. Nothing extraordinary. We went underground and got off in a mall. It was a strange place for a city train! The mall was vacant since it was a Sunday. What shocked me the most was that the mall had a fresh produce store inside. How strange! Once we walked outside, I was in shock. The beauty of the city surrounded us. Ancient buildings, stunning architecture. Every turn was a photo moment. Dad knew exactly where to take us.
We walked, trying not to run into people from looking up. The stores were delicately placed on a vertical slant and the roads were laid with cobblestone. Small storefronts looked too beautiful to hold a function. Cafes, oh there were so many quaint and cozy cafes! My camera didn’t stop taking photos. Jutka had us enter a cute chocolate shop. She explained there was a famous chocolate cake from Vienna we should try. It was called Sachertorte. This specialty is served in Vienna and a chocolate sponge cake. What impressed me was the beautiful little emblem on top. Even things you eat were beautiful here!
We put it aside and went to Figlmullers, a restaurant that specializes in Vienna cuisine. Dad made reservations for us in this tiny, narrow restaurant.
While we waited to eat, dad and Jutka led us to the center of town. I hadn’t ever seen anything so epic in real life as St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Wikipedia says this: “St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, OP. The current Romanesque and Gothic form of the cathedral, seen today in the Stephansplatz, was largely initiated by Duke Rudolf IV (1339–1365) and stands on the ruins of two earlier churches, the first a parish church consecrated in 1147. The most important religious building in Vienna, St. Stephen’s Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city’s most recognizable symbols.”
Other special places we saw included the Column of Pest (Column of The Trinity), which is a late 17th-century sculpted Holy Trinity column, built to commemorate victims of the plague. Dad also had us walk and observe a Catholic Mass at another smaller beautiful church. At this point, we also tasted the Sachertorte, or chocolate cake. It was so so rich! I took a quick picture of it and only took a bite. It was almost too rich for me (if that’s possible). It really liked it, but with all the other food we were trying, only enjoyed a bit.
Once our table was ready, we sat down in Figlmullers. This little restaurant is world famous for their schnitzel. Schnitzel is meat flattened out and then deep fried in a breading. The traditional Vienna Schnitzel is made with veal. The dish doesn’t even fit on a plate! We also ordered fries to share. I didn’t get the veal and instead opted for the Chicken Cordon Bleu which had chicken, ham, and swiss cheese. It was absolutely amazing. In fact, Dustin and I tried to go back a week later but they were full.
After eating our full, we took a double decker bus around the city for a break on our feet. We sat on the top and just took in the sites. There were headphones and you could hear Mozart and other famous musicians from Vienna playing music. I learned so much just from that tour.