Today we woke up bright and early to go to the Schonbrunn Palace and I’m glad we did because later we heard that the queue for tickets can be quite long as usual. We bought the classic pass, but in hindsight the imperial pass would have been enough because the additional gardens (Privy garden, maze and orangery) weren’t extremely worthwhile. The Gloriette was included in this pass as well but later we found out that it is possible to get a Google view of the Palace without going into and up the Gloriette.
But anyways I digress. Although we were the early birds, there were already school groups starting their tours punctually at 8am. I am kinda envious at how they have so many opportunities for such exciting learning journeys. Groups of school children are common sights in touristy places in Europe. The audio guide was nice to listen to. I learnt some things about the Royal Family and their interpersonal relationships with one another. The Palace rooms are smaller than I expected (as compared to Doge’s Palace in Venice, for example) and the sign of royalty and glamour are found mainly on the decor of the rooms instead of their size. For example, there were rooms with lacquers that carried oriental designs and portraits room with works painted with blue strokes so as to evoke a resemblance to porcelain. The rooms had many paintings as well, mostly of the Royal family members. Elaborate frames, in position in their elaborate ways, framed other pictures like their collection from Mongolia.
The very notable persons throughout the whole tour would be SiSi, Franz Joseph I, Maria Theresa and her husband (is it Francis? I forgot.) We learnt about their personalities and characters through stories told to us from the audio guide, and it was pretty interesting from start to end. 🙂
Afterwards we went to the gardens, which were so huge… It must have been at least the size of 10 football fields? Trees resembling paddle pops line the paths, and they appeared so because the crowns of the trees were trimmed so neat and rectangularly at right angles, supported by one cylindrical sturdy trunk. This immediately reminded me of Versailles again, just like the exterior of the entire Palace did. Great, I thought, because a few months ago I was just thinking about how much I’ve missed the latter. Everything resembled Versailles gardens except Schrobunn’s had a flat landscape. The gardens with their perfectly grown flowers, blooming in whatever design was drawn out, sprawled in front of us. The sky was overcast but a pretty good day to come here.
The hike up to the Gloriette was steep but we were awarded with a grand view of the Palace’s compound after some effort. At this point in time I was pretty troubled by how I had to settle a few things for electives. It was kinda stressful and annoying but ok whatever.
For the rest of our Palace tour, we visited the other attractions included in our ticket and suddenly big fat rain drops started pouring. It was the start of slew of showers that welcomed us to the rest of our trip.
For the rest of the afternoon we went on a free walking tour. Our guide, imo, was very experienced and informative. She even used an iPad to show us multimedia material, such as a speech by Hitler which was made at the Hofburg Palace. I really enjoyed the tour because I got to understand so much more about Vienna’s history and architecture. We started off at Albertina museum and then saw the opera house. Later, She introduced us to the anti war and anti fascism monument as well as its great significance; it is a form of sincere apology from Austria about its involvement in WWII. Then we crosses to the park (name already forgotten) to see the Mozart Statue.
You see, we already saw the statue before and took photos with it but with a guide around, we also learnt about some facts surrounding Mozart through the interpretation of some aspects of the statue.
Moving on we went to the New Market Square with its beautiful fountain with Athena (I think) on it. Over here we learnt that we’re very privileged to drink the Austrian tap water as it comes directly from the alps, through a well developed system of pipes.
Later we were given a toilet break but I need to tell the guide that this is a bad, bad idea if I had ever the chance to, because we lost the whole group after this break lol. YS couldn’t find the correct meeting point to gather and I saw the whole group walking away in front of my eyes… Dang it.
We rushed over to St Stephan’s cathedral, hoping to bump into them there but unfortunately after looking around for 20 minutes, I think we lost them for good. We went in to see the church ourselves and u was dampened by the fact that the catacombs were closed just upon our arrival. Not wasting anymore time, we headed to the state hall, which is also the old Austria National library.
This library was commissioned by Charles Joseph’s (I think) to store the Royal family’s large collection of books.
The last time I saw an old library was in Oxford but I think I had a better experience over here because visitors were free to take photos and walk about by themselves. We visited with an audio guide that explained how the whole building was designed and planned (wing of wat and wing of peace with a great statue of Charles in the middle). They also had a great exhibition of the free masons which was sooo interesting and definitely a wonderful eye opener. We only had 1h in the 70m long library but it was certainly not enough. Nonetheless I took away so much from one fruitful afternoon and was already very contented. 🙂
Food in Austria wasn’t v spectacular imo so to save money, we settled for fast food. YS ate her leftover fried rice from lunch while I had hotdog. YUM! We went back for an early night, excited to start our salzburg trip with BEN. ^^