• Bruce

Day 22: Vienna Part 2

The last full day of the trip! It's amazing how fast three weeks can pass when you’re traveling around the world. It was another beautiful sunny day in Vienna, with moderate temperatures in the low 20s. We had a nice breakfast in the lounge, then went to the waterfront to take in the Danube one last time before checking out.

We took the subway for a short hop back into the city centre to our last hotel - Hilton Vienna Stadtpark. This was an older business hotel, but pretty well maintained. It looked like it had a storied history given the pictures around the lobby. We arrived around noon and was pleasantly surprised we could check in. Unfortunately there was no upgrades as a diamond member besides being on the executive floor. We were placed on the same floor as the executive lounge, which was convenient. The room was pretty ordinary but sufficient for this one night stay. We quickly dropped off our things in the room then headed out for our 1pm lunch reservation. I booked the Meierei im Stadtpark, via Platinum Concierge, which is owned by one of the most famous chefs in Vienna. Despite this, it was quite affordable and the setting was beautiful inside the park.

We tried a trio of their starters and shared a traditional Goulash with a modern spin. The dishes were all delicious, although not particularly memorable.

Afterwards, we took a stroll through Stadtpark, which was huge and beautiful.

There were many statues commentating the famous musicians of Vienna – including this one of Strauss.

My mom really wanted to see the Golden Concert Hall, which is one of the most famous landmarks of Vienna according to people in China. I have never heard of it and didn’t see it on any travel guide, but even my grandparents knew about it. We did eventually find it, but it looked just like a regular opera house. There were some other Chinese tourists nearby, but not much else. Turns out some Chinese musicians played here and it was a sign of finally “making it” in the west. But in reality, this was not one of the most prestigious music venues in Vienna.

Afterwards, we finally found ourselves in a Viennese Cafe, one of the bucket list items when visiting the city. Vienna is known for its cafe culture – locals often spend their entire days here even if they only order a coffee.

I enjoyed a local variation of a mocha with a generous dollop of whipped cream. We also got the two most famous desserts in Vienna, the Sacher Tarte and Apple Tarte. Both were really delicious and paired very well with the coffee. After the pleasant afternoon tea, we headed out of the centre to Schronbrunn Palace. This was the summer residence for the ruling family back in the day. Before we went in, I used the washroom by the gift shop. This was the first time I’ve seen a paid washroom (50 cents). Once we entered the palace grounds, we saw numerous shops and stands set up for the Easter market that were selling food or artisan crafts. The palace itself was not very tall, about 5 floors, but extremely wide.

We went along the right side of the palace where there were a series of immaculately sculpted gardens.

Past the gardens, we reached the back side of the palace which was even more beautiful. There was a large plaza that was decorated with floral arrangements. Along the sides were numerous marble statutes and even more gardens. Some of these required extra admission and I think one of them contained a zoo.

Towards the end of this plaza was a large fountain and a hill leading up to a gate that had a good view of the palace.

Before we left, we went inside the palace to pick up our orchestra tickets for later that night. We took the U-Bahn directly back to our hotel and had dinner at the executive lounge. The food was pretty decent, and there was even schnitzel. After dinner, we headed back out to Schoenbrunn Palace for the Orchestra. The show was at the Oranagerie, a beautiful ballroom within the palace. Intricate gold chandeliers hung from the ceiling, which was painted with stunning murals. The room was fairly small but quite long. We had the cheapest tickets but still had a pretty good view.

The performance was magnificent – playing pieces from local legends Strauss and Mozart. The show ended with a lovely rendition of Strauss’ most famous piece, the Beautiful Blue Danube. As a former violinist (albeit not a good one), I really appreciated this experience. Even my mom, who doesn’t play any instruments, really enjoyed it. This was a great way to conclude our stay in the City of Music and wrap up an incredible 3 weeks travelling around the world.