February 14th, 2009 – by: boxinbcn
Itâ€™s somehow brighter here. The sky is clear. Butâ€¦ it sure feels cold. Getting out of the airport was easy and thereâ€™s plenty of advertising for the CAT train form the airport to Wien Mitte. It costs 9 Euros and there surely must be a cheaper way but this is easy and comfortable. All you have to do is follow a green line from the terminal to the train, conveniently passing terminals that sell you the tickets â€“ cash, credit cards, debit cardsâ€¦ everything is accepted! At Wien Mitte we found the U bahnâ€¦ subway â€“ and bought a three day pass. Then, on our way to Stephansplats before transferring to Karlsplatz close to our hotel. The hotel has a cumbersome nameâ€¦ Suite Hotel 900m zur Operâ€¦ I think that means suite hotel 900 meters from the operaâ€¦. Descriptive. Check in was great.
We were there about 3 hours before official check in time, but the receptionist found us a room that was ready and let us in early. The room is enormous. A large bedroom, a living room with a little kitchen, a room with a sink and toilet and another large bathroom with a shower / tub and sink. Itâ€™s a nice room. We settled in a little but didnâ€™t hang around too long. We wanted to start seeing Vienna. Soâ€¦ we were able to leave our bags and then start exploring this wonderful city.
As we headed back to Karlsplatz we stopped to look at our map for a moment and a really nice lady came up and asked us if we were lost and if she could help us to find our way.
This was a nice first contact with a Viennese person!
SchĂ¶nbrunn Palace grounds
We decided to then stop for something hot to drink â€“ and a croissant or something since we didnâ€™t get much of anything on the plane. We stopped at a little coffee shop on Wiedner Hauptstrasse not far from the hotel. We had a cappuccino and a croissant. The place was nice â€“ the lady working there was also very friendly. The place is a perfect choice for smokers! There we made our plans for the rest of the day. We decided to head for SchĂ¶nbrunn first. After our coffee we continued on to Karlsplatz and got on the Ubahn to Stephansplatz. From there we took another Ubahn line to SchĂ¶nbrunn which was the summer residence of the Habsburgsâ€¦.
At SchĂ¶nbrunn it was snowing and first of all we wandered around the incredible formal gardens a little before heading into the palace.
An incredible place, this Baroque palace was the summer residence of the imperial family. There had been another residence on the site previously but it was destroyed by the Turks. This residence was commissioned in 1695. As you can imagine, being Baroque it is extremely ornateâ€¦ There are a number of different types of tickets that you can get to visit this and other sites. We decided to get a Sisi ticket which allowed us to visit the palace and two others (a furniture museum and the Hofburg palace). We want to see it all, as long as weâ€™re here!
SchĂ¶nbrunn Palace grounds
It was interesting to see where the Habsburgs lived. Prettyâ€¦ baroqueâ€¦. Lots of glossy white walls adorned with golden woodwork.
Some of the places remind me of an over decorated wedding cake! The rooms that I enjoyed seeing the most were the chamber of mirrors where Mozart gave his first concert when he was 8 years old. Also, the grand chamber where Kennedy met with Kruschev. The Grand Chamber is an amazing ballroom. It was used for state functions as recently as 1994.
Later on in the visit we were able to see where Emperor Franz Josef and Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) lived. Their rooms werenâ€™t so ostentatious. Sisi was, however, responsible for the first bathroom being installed in the palace. Her bathtub, an enormous metal tub, was interesting to see. The image given of Franz Josef is that of a hard-working public servant who seemed to live more or less simply â€“ at least compared to how he could haveâ€¦ I got a new perspective about Empress Elizabeth (Sisi) hereâ€¦ I sort of believed the movie versionâ€¦ turns out she was a very depressed woman, obsessed about her figure, beauty, exerciseâ€¦.
Rarely shared in family meals, didnâ€™t love her husband who on the other hand was crazy about her. Her escape was through travel and the poetry and verse that she wrote. Not what I expectedâ€¦ At one time she said that marriage is a farce: youâ€™re given away at 15 and a half to be with someone you donâ€™t care for for 30 years or so and thereâ€™s no way outâ€¦ Something to that effect anyway. Finally, she was stabbed to death with a file by an Italian anarchist. Sad.
Death mask of Mozart
After SchĂ¶nbrunn we went to the Kaiserliches Hofmobiliendepot. This involved another U-bahn run. Weâ€™re rapidly amortizing our 72 hour ticket. Good thing we bought one â€“ we were already checked by the controllers who are there to detect stowaways! This museum is sort of like the Habsburgâ€™s storage shed! This was included in the Sisi ticket.
Basically it holds most all of their old furniture. (The collection was started in 1747) I wouldnâ€™t particularly recommend it if you donâ€™t have much time in Vienna, unless you are excited about seeing some furniture that was used in the Sissi movies or youâ€™re a real fan of Biedermeier furniture. It also gives a good look at how the Habsburgs lived. The Sissi (Sisi is the way her name was really spelled, Sissi is the way it was spelled in the movies) exhibits are placed throughout the exhibition and show clips of the various movies about her where specific pieces of furniture on display were featured. Among many other things, it was interesting to see some of the toiletry objects that they used â€“ some crazy toilets, an antique wheelchair and some really elaborate baby furniture.
Interior of Mozarthaus
Our next stop was at the cathedral â€“ Stephansdom.
It is a breathtaking Gothic structure, impressive both inside and out. It was nice to just sit in the quiet church and look around for a while. After all of the walking around it was nice to rest a little.
Interior of Mozarthaus. Mozart lived his happiest years in Vienna with his wife and children in rooms on the ground floor of this building.
It was getting a little late by the time we exited the cathedral. We wandered around a little more and ended up finding a place to eat by a Gutenberg monument. The restaurant, also called Gutenberg, was just fine. We had onion soup, vegetable soup, Wiener schnitzel and cordon bleu. The food was great. Not just because I was really hungry. It was really good. The place was really quite because we came off hours. Our food, a couple beers and no dessert all came to 46 Euros.
I read about Blutgasse (Blood lane which gets its name from a massacre of knights Templar in 1312 when blood flowed down the street) and Domgasse and the stately houses there, so we decided to walk around there.
Finally, without intending to, we found the Mozarthaus which is the only residence that Mozart and his family lived in that still remains to this day. This place is definitely worth a visit. It is one of 11 apartments that he lived in while living in Vienna. These rooms are where he is said to have spent his happiest years. He lived here with his wife and children from 1784 to 1787 and this is where he wrote The Marriage of Figaro. We visited the entire building. The upper floors have informative exhibits about the composer and the lower floor is the suite of rooms where he lived.
By Stephansdom. The roof is pretty impressive (you can see a bit in the background with millions of tiles).
After the Mozarthaus we wandered around old Vienna some more.
The Stephansdom quarter is a charming area. It was dark, snowing and cold, but there is something magical about this city. At least this part of this city. Finally we decided to go back to the hotel. We walked many miles today. It seems like a lot, but we had many hours and were able to really spend some good time at each place.
I took a quick shower and went to bed. I turned on the TV a little but was way to sleepy. The bed is comfortable.