Schoenbrunn Palace

Me in the gardens of
Schoenbrunn Palace
We arrived in Vienna by the early evening, with enough time to easily find our hostel; online it seemed very close to the centre but on foot we had to walk what felt like miles! Our accommodation was in a seemingly posh looking area - although all of Vienna looked posh and quite romantic in a literary sense, and we overlooked a rather huge market. Our room was a nice size, with an adjoining bathroom and we were able to spread our stuff out a little. Unfortunately it was starting to get considerably hotter and only half our air conditioning worked, the other half would let out the most tremendous scream every time we tried to put it on. Nevertheless I liked our room and the views were particularly pretty, especially at sunset. 
       The first night, after we'd dumped our bags and had a quick shower, we went to a little pizzeria not too far from us and had a delicious and very welcome dinner! Our one time stop ended up being a frequent thing in our daily routines; lots of sightseeing and the an extremely large pizza!
Portrait by Picasso, Albertina Museum
       Neither me nor Molly had visited Vienna before and it had been almost a childhood dream of mine ever since I read Eva Ibbotson's 'The Morning Gift' which was set in Vienna. I immediately fell in love with the descriptions of the city and most of all the Lipizzaner horses so famed. We looked at a range of things but focused quite a bit on museums and palaces, something Vienna has in abundance. We didn't get a walking tour for Vienna, I'm not really sue why, it sort of slipped our mind. We remembered about halfway through and then decided not to bother since we'd already seen such a lot and didn't have much time left. Despite the lack of walking tour I did feel like I learnt a lot of history from the things we visited:

  • The Albertina Museum: Boasts some of the finest contemporary art in the world including a large collection of Monet and Picasso which were beautiful. The modern art is interspersed with formal state rooms which is both jarring and intriguing. The gift shop alone is worth a visit! Unfortunately we just missed out on seeing one of my favourite artists; Albrecht Duhrer but he currently on show until January 2020.
  • Kunsthistorisches MuseumI think I can say without a shadow of a doubt is one of the best museums I've ever visited. It has an absolutely enormous collection of Renaissance masters including Titian, Caravaggio, Peter Paul Rubens and many more. The museum is absolutely huge and we spent a good few hours there but it was totally worth it!
  • Prater Park: An Iconic Viennese park with a famous Ferris Wheel featured in the seminal film The Third Man (a real must see). Me and Molly weren't overly impressed. The Ferris Wheel was in the middle of a theme park and looked sad and dodgy and the park itself was more of a long drive with trees on either side. Not particularly picturesque.
Foals and mares from the Piber Stud Farm
of the Lipizzaner Spanish Riding School 
  • The Spanish Riding School: One of the main reasons I'd wanted to visit Vienna. Unfortunately, the famous white stallions were on a summer break when we went so we saw the foals and mothers from the stud form which whilst quite diverting, was not really what we'd wanted and was a little disappointing. It was still quite magical and the lesson learnt is to always do your homework!
  • The Hofburg Palace: In the heart of Vienna, it houses the Sisi (Empress Elizabeth) Mueum which gives a detailed account of her life with many of her personal objects. Truly fascinating, and I would highly recommend. You can also view a rather dry china collection and state rooms. A real must see.
Klimpt's 'The Kiss'
  • Schoenbrunn Palace: Is a little way out of the centre of Vienna but not too difficult to get to buy metro or bus. We went in the late afternoon and bought a ticket but had to wait about 30 mins before being allowed in so we took the time to visit the exceptional gardens and fountains, and I got a disappointing and overpriced ice cream. In the palace you can look around the vast state rooms which are oppulant and mesmerising, mainly in the style of Empress Theresa Maria, or Emperor Franz Joseph. The Hofburg and Schoenbrunn really go hand in hand so I would make the effort to see both. I loved it.
  • The Belvedere: An excellent museum housing a collection of Gustav Klimpt's work including his famous 'Kiss'. The Klimpt collection is located in the Upper Belvedere so I would suggest only getting a ticket for that area, the Lower Belvedere has different exhibitions on all the time but it depends what you want to see and how much time your have. There are loads of other works in the Belvedere the Klimpt's were exceptional and just as glittering up close. It gets very crowded and at time I found t difficult to get a proper look for the other tourists taking photos and posing next to the paintings which was very frustrating. I would suggest going early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
St Stephen's Cathedral
  • The Vienna Opera House: After an extremely confusing start including not being able to find the entrance, we eventually secured a tour of the famous opera house for a student price of £4. It was not worth it. The opera house goes into recess in the summer so is open to the public but the tour was short, disorganised and took too many people at one time. The only surviving, original section of the building is the lobby which is magnificent but the rest is all a little anticlimactic and I wouldn't recommend it at all
  • St Stephen's Cathedral: A very striking, gothic cathedral in the heart of Vienna's shopping district. The inside is very impressive but very crowded and doesn't have the same calm atmosphere of some of the other churches and cathedrals we visited. Nevertheless it's worth a quick look.

Overall the aesthetic of Vienna is similar to that of Berlin in the sense that it isn't overly beautiful, it's certainly a bustling city but it is more function over style. I think that Vienna is somewhere that would be better visited in the winter when the Spanish Riding School and opera are both back in session and the city gets snowy. I think it would be more beautiful and meet more the expectations of the city. It wasn't my favourite place, but I didn't hate it by any means. I thought the museums and palaces were absolutely wonderful, second to none and I learnt such a lot, especially about the royal family. If you're really into your history and art then Vienna certainly has a great deal to offer and indeed you'll be spoilt for choice but if you'd like lots of pretty picture for the 'gram, the Vienna is not the place for you. I'm still quite open minded though and would be happy to give Vienna another try around Christmas time.

A quick video I took of the Spanish Riding School horse show


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