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My first cross-border train ride in Europe was from Prague to Vienna, so I was very excited.
The train was modern, clean, very comfortable, and even had WiFi on board which made the 4-hour journey bearable. The scenery along the way was pretty, too.
It was drizzling when I arrived in Vienna, so I didn’t push through with my original plan of exploring downtown Vienna. I just went around the Westbahnhof area.
Next day’s agenda consist of only one thing: Schonbrunn Palace – the former imperial summer residence of the Habsburgs.
I inquired with the hostel‘s front desk about the best way to get to Schonbrunn Palace and the receptionist said I could walk. I looked at the free map provided, and it looked like it was just down Mariahilfer Straße…and it was, only it was more than a 2-kilometer walk.
Ten minutes in, and I already regretted the decision.
But then shortly before reaching the palace, I passed by Auer-Welsbach Park, and was mesmerized with the beautiful fall colors. I spent a few minutes watching kids play football, and even tried to chase some squirrels. LOL
The palace offers several types of tours – some you can do on your own with a free audio guide, some with a palace guide for an additional fee.
I chose a guided Grand Tour of Schonbrunn and paid €19.40. Some may find the price steep, but I don’t mind paying that amount for an hour of being cultured. :p
Backpacks are not allowed inside as well as photography and videography.
Before we started the tour, the guide handed each one of us a wireless audio receiver, so that we could hear her clearly during the tour even as she speaks softly .
The Grand Tour of Schonbrunn Palace showcases 40 of the 1,441 rooms, which gives us a glimpse into the lives of the Habsburgs – one of Europe’s most powerful and influential family of their time.
The tour started in the west wing of the palace, and through the apartments of Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.
I cannot put into words the opulence and character of each room! I then understood why photography/videography was not allowed. If it was, people would be stopping at every corner and would disrupt the tours. Worse, someone might damage something.
You can check out the rooms featured in the Grand Tour of Schonbrunn on their website.
My favorites were the Breakfast Cabinet, the Mirrors Room (they say it was either in this room or the adjoining room where 6-year old Mozart had his first concert), the Great Gallery which is reminiscent of Versailles’ Hall of Mirrors, the East Asian Cabinets, and the Vieux Laque Room.
They even showed ‘secret doors’ which served as servants’ quarters and passageway, and where they would heat up the fireplace.
I must have slept through History class because I only learned that Marie Antoinette of France and Napoleon Bonaparte (through his marriage to Marie Louise, daughter of Emperor Franz II) were part of the Habsburg family, and that the yellow rhombus on Brazil’s flag is a homage to the Austrian heritage of Leopoldina, Empress of Brazil, wife of Pedro of Braganza.
After the tour, I bought postcards and a ref magnet from the souvenir shop then went to the gardens.
And in true Viennese fashion, I ended my day at Schonbrunn Palace with a cup of coffee and sachertorte.