Today we departed from Salzburg and started making our way to Vienna. Vienna is the capital of Austria and was once the centre of the powerful Habsburg monarchy. As a visitor today, you can feel a strong sense of grandeur everywhere you look.
When we arrived, we visited the Schonbrunn, a rather opulent summer palace that belonged to the Habsburg’s. To give you an idea of how large it is, there are 1,441 rooms, and only 40 of these are open to the public today. You can do an Imperial Tour which takes you to 26 of these rooms.
The French-style formal gardens contain dancing fountains, statues, the world’s oldest zoo and a 630m-long hedge maze. Up the hill and in the distance, you can see the Gloriette which sits on the crest of the hill.
In the 19th century the inner hall of the Gloriette was used as a dining area, and a kitchen was built nearby so food could be freshly prepared and bought up to it. In 1945 a bomb destroyed part of the East Wing, but this was rebuilt in the years after the war.
We wandered around the beautiful gardens for a while, getting lost in hedge-mazes and all of the splendour. It’s incredible to think that the Schonbrunn was used as a mere summer-house…the Habsburg’s must have lived an incredible lifestyle.
Everyone jumped back on the Topdeck bus, and were dropped off at our hostel. Katie and I dropped our bags in our room and stepped outside to look around. I think Vienna is an amazing place to explore on foot. We saw a lot of incredible architecture and cultural beauty just by wandering around.
Wanting to get out of the cold, we stumbled into a cute little cafe that served drinks in pink cups. Vienna is famous for apple strudel, and we enjoyed one of those each and warmed ourselves up with a delicious hot chocolate.
Feeling refreshed and a little bit warmer than before, we ventured back out into the cold afternoon air and continued exploring the streets.
After a couple of hours, we returned to our hostel and got ready for the events of tonight. One of the optional extras offered by Topdeck is a trip to see the Vienna Orchestra.
Our bus dropped us off at the Vienna Kursalon, which is located in Stadtpark. The building was glowing with fairy lights and there were people milling about, dressed in beautiful clothes.
When we stepped inside our jackets were taken into a coat-room and we wandered up the stairs into a large room. The first thing I notice was the beautiful chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and the grand piano sitting in the left corner.
I’d never been to see a classical orchestra before and I wasn’t too sure what to expect. Generally, I don’t mind a bit of classical music but there’s normally other things I would rather listen to – but this was a really great experience!
The orchestra played beautifully, and they added in some fun and humour to make it a bit more of an interesting experience for everyone. It was a more like a show rather than just an orchestra, and it was a really great night out. Plus, we all got a free glass of wine, so no complaints there.
On the way back to the hostel, we were all singing together on the bus – laughing at the modern clubbing music that was playing on the radio because it seemed so ridiculous compared to what we had just been listening to.
The next day we had an early start to leave for Budapest, via Slovakia. Check out our itinerary for more of our adventures in Europe.
Have you ever been to Vienna? What did you think?