After a great first 12 waking hours in Vienna, we were ready for a mere 10 more hours in this stunning city. Nowhere near enough time to see everything, but more than enough time to put a dent in it and have some fun in the process.
08:30 We started the day with some traditional Viennese pastries for breakfast. We chose Kurkonditorei Oberlaa as our destination as they have something rather unique in Vienna – gluten free pastries. My wife was in heaven as she didn’t expect to be able to try any of these delectables. The gluten free pastries (left and top right in the pictures below) were really good. In particular, the one on the left below was very similar to a Québécois mille-feuille. I got one non gluten-free pastry as I had to try an apfelstrudel (bottom right below). That and a great espresso put me in a wonderful mood to start the day.
09:30 A short post-breakfast walk got us to the Hofburg Imperial Palace and Imperial Apartments. Right in the heart of Vienna, we got to tour the palace and apartments ahead of the crowds that were showing up as we left. We only got a few photos as photography wasn’t permitted in many of the rooms. The tour was well laid out and first told the story of Empress Elisabeth (Sisi). Her story of non-conformity and how she was an independent spirit was captivating. Many of the rooms focused on her elaborate regime at keeping up her health and youthful appearance. I had to sneak the photo on the left of one of her elaborate ball gowns. The rest of the tour focused on telling the story of Emperor Franz Joseph and his rule over Austria.
11:00 We spent a few minutes touring the gardens immediately outside the palace. They were immaculately well kept. Although the leaves in many parts of Vienna were already changing their colours, there was no sense of the impending fall in the gardens. The grass was in mid-summer form – lush and green:
11:30 We made our way back to our hotel to freshen up for the rest of the day and to check out. Getting there was a treat as we took a streetcar around the western half of the Ringstraße. The architecture views out both sides of the streetcar were breathtaking:
12:30 One of the highlights of Vienna was the time we spent in the Naschmarkt. About a ten minute walk south of the Vienna Opera, it is a spectacular foodie location. Numerous city blocks of stalls are set up featuring spices, fresh fish, meat, tapas, fruit and vegetables, grains, cheese, olive oils, wine and so much more. We wandered up and down the aisles wishing we could shop at a place like this everyday. It was the nicest market I’ve had the chance to visit in Europe.
13:30 Lunch on this day would be my last chance for a full meal in Vienna. So there was really no doubt about what I would get. Stopping at the Naschmarkt Deli, I ordered the schnitzel and a pint of Villacher, a great crisp lager. It was the perfect last meal for this trip.
15:00 Our schedule didn’t align with seeing an opera while here, so we did the second best thing. After a bit more wandering around to check out the sights, we stopped at the Vienna State Opera for a tour. Pretty spectacular isn’t it?
We had a great tour guide and enjoyed seeing the opera hall, a number of the grand intermission rooms and learning some of the history of the building as well as stories about some famous performances and behind the scenes hijinks.
16:30 Winding down our last hour or so, we relaxed on a bench in a park before heading to the hotel to pick up our bags en route to the train back to Prague. In a nod to the musical history of the city, we were able to sit in front of a statue of Mozart himself as we reflected on a great thirty hours in this beautiful city: