Vienna, Austria is another beautiful old city with crooked, cobbled streets and intricately detailed buildings on every corner. It was here that we met up with my friend Amy who is on her way back to The States (via 10 days in Europe) after working in an orphanage in Nepal since January.
Towering over the city center is the baroque Cathedral of St. Stephen. This cathedral, with the tallest spire in all of the Austria-Hungarian empire, is truly the center of town, with every road either branching off from this point like spokes on a wagon wheel, or circling around it like the wheel itself.
Much of one whole day in Vienna, or Wein as it’s known locally, was spent exploring the Hofburg imperial palace, royal winter residence for the ruling Habsburgs until the nineteen-teens.
One tour highlighted the royal silver and tableware collection, which sounded really boring, but was surprisingly interesting; an exhibit on the mysterious Empress Elisabeth (aka Sisi); and a tour through the royal residence as it was set up during Empress Elisabeth and Emperor Franz Josef II’s reign in the late 1800s.
We also toured the Royal Treasury for a glimpse at some incredible gems and coronation wear!
I think my favorite part of the Hofburg, though, was the royal rose garden, which is now a relaxing city park.
Tony’s favorite part of this leg of our journey was our day spent outside Vienna. Just a short train and bus ride outside of the city, took us to the village of Modling. A 10 minute walk through the woods and we glimpsed this through the trees:
Liechtenstein Castle* was first built in the 12th century and is everything you think of when you picture a medieval fortress. It has tall turrets, small windows, and stone walls up to 3 feet thick!
We were able to tour the castle, but we weren’t allowed to take any photos while inside. I was only able to sneak that center left one of the main staircase while our guide was locking doors behind us – bummer! The photos from the outside are the most stunning though!
What else do you do in Vienna, the city many call the culture capital of the world? Why, you take in a show! The State Opera House sells standing room only tickets on a first-come-first-serve basis for just 4 Euros! That’s the price for directly in center at the back of the orchestra section – a fabulous view. So, we got as dressed up as we could, considering the limited wardrobes housed in our carry-on suitcases, and we went to the theatre!
We had no idea what we were going to see until the curtain rose, and it turned out to be a ballet, much to Tony’s dismay. He wasn’t real keen on seeing the opera as it was, but ballet was even worse in his eyes! He stayed for nearly the first half though, then left Amy and I see the rest on our own. The ballet was beautiful, and I really enjoyed the accompanying orchestra and the opera singer who came out for the last section. The building itself was a beauty as well!
Vienna was lovely, and I can see why it’s ranked one of the top places to live in the world, but now it’s off to Budapest in Hungary!
* Movie buffs may recognize this castle as one featured in The Three Musketeers movie!