A date with Vienna
Here is where it started. Well, not location wise but this is where the apple cart was upset and Europe went ablaze, here we were remembering 100 years since the World War One at Schonbrunn Palace.
Schonbrunn which means beautiful spring was the family home (a huge one 66 rooms) of the Hofburg dynasty whose Prince Ferdinand was assassinated by a Yugoslavian national stirring the horrific war of the century. Here, I was standing in disbelief admiring the gorgeous city views of Vienna from the Gloriette – the viewing terrace of the Schonbrunn.
I don’t quite remember when I had seen Schonbrunn on television but was fascinated by the sheer beauty and grandeur of the place – the city of Mozart was always on wish list since then. I do not have a particular interest in royal families or particularly a patron of their shameless display of wealth. (nor any modern day corporate emperor’s either and thankfully royals do not enjoy prestige anymore) But I am always keen on history and the architecture of the Palaces or Castles built. (I may be unable to draw a single straight line but we claim to be family of famous architects)
The Schonbrunn is considered only second to Versailles in Europe and boasts of one of the oldest zoos in the world and a huge maze as also a labyrinth . To cover this huge palace, we were given only one hour by our tour guide! How unfair…. but we were in Vienna only for a day from Prague.
So myself and my dear friend MP walked hurriedly from the Palace and up on the tiny hill to get the best views from the Gloriette and ran down quickly enough to see our guide at appointed departure time. Poor MJ could not enjoy the due to bad health. Run? Well, in the 30 C summer heat, we were drenched in sweat!
Co-passengers who had not ventured this far had enjoyed an Afelstrudel making demonstration instead. Ahh! I missed this one as well, cried poor MJ.
Before we reached Schonbrunn, we went around the Ringstrasse, the grand boulevard in our mini bus, we were left wanting for more, on the right is the State opera announced the tour guide, then you have the Natural History Musuem, the Parliament building, the Stadt Park ,and so on….. click , clickitety , click went my co-passengers trying to capture the grand architecture of the city. The city’s grand boluvelard’s simply floored us.
From morning until late at night, I ran from one object of interest to another, but it was always the buildings that held my primary interest. For hours I could stand in front of the Opera, for hours I could gaze at the Parliament; the whole Ringstrasse seemed to me like an enchantment out of The Thousand and One Nights.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
(Passing thought: Hitler, as you may be aware had spent considerable time in his early years in Vienna. The school of art at Vienna had rejected him twice and here is where he thought that perhaps he was meant to do other things- epicentre for two wars Vienna)
Post Schonbrunn, we did a small walk around the Hofburg Palace, the huge (an understatement) residential complex of the Hosburg family which now houses the Austrian National Library (Hofbibliothek), the Imperial Treasury (Schatzkammer), the Burgtheater, the Spanish Riding School (Hofreitschule), the Imperial Horse Stables (Stallburg and Hofstallungen), and the Hofburg Congress Center. Ofcourse, we did not have time to view the places from inside but the titillating tease continued to play in our minds.
Then we were led into vibrant bylanes of Vienna, onto the street leading to the gothic spires of St. stephen’s cathedral.
MJ and MP went all biserk capturing every corner of the cathedral and we sat down on some steps nearby…. Mesmerised by the beautiful building. Before we could get any more comfortable, we dragged ourselves to Mozart’s house which lies just behind the cathedral. As expected we were flocked by vendors selling concert tickets. Some other time, we politely refused much to the dismay of the vendors.
We were given two hours of time for ourselves …… good enough for that Vienesse coffee. Vienna offers a relaxed coffee experience, many of the coffee houses will leave you undistributed for hours together. Do we go to the fancy sacher hotel – where Sacher Torte has its origins or old styled rustic Vienesse one? Let us not waste time hunting for these places, we agreed. We couldn’t resist the temptations anymore. We wanted it quick.
So we sat down in one of a café in the main squares across the St. Stephen’s Cathredal absorbing all the exciting atmosphere around and indulging in the famous Affel Strudel , the Schnitzel and my well-presented Ice Coffee. The touristy café had a fat laminated menu card and boy do these people take their desserts seriously, each picture was eye pleasing.
With such lovely places at disposal even the thought of Starbucks seemed a nightmare! Ummm….the lip smacking, moist, sweet Affel Strudel
My heart was lingering for more but we had to go back to Prague. Well, could not complain, we were on a date with Vienna. Vienna, the place were two young strangers fell in love in the movie Before Sunrise. So I thought to myself when I booked my day trip ticket from Prague, let me have a glimpse of Vienna, a brief date perhaps. A chance I had say.
Just like the two strangers from the movie, let me see how I like it or I may regret few years that I was so close from Prague (four hours drive) but could not make it.
I was the jilted lover here – coming to the city of music and not experiencing any of the symphonies.
The date with this grand city was over, see you again Vienna. Sealed with a kiss.