On our second day in Vienna (read about day one here), we started out at the place I was most excited to see: Schönbrunn Palace. This was Marie Antoinette’s family’s summer palace, and it was her favorite place to live.
I was happy to find out that most of the tour was focused on her family. Again, you weren’t allowed to take pictures, but I was so happy to be here that I snuck some.
This was their living room, and where the family hung out together. Possibly one of these paintings is Marie Antoinette, but they’re definitely all her siblings. Fun fact: it’s also where 6 year old Mozart gave one of his first concerts. Legend has it that he jumped on Marie Antoinette’s mom’s lap afterwards.
Here’s the ballroom. Of course we couldn’t resist dancing in here a little bit. There was Mozart music playing, and everything!
There were lots of rooms with very pretty paneling. I happened to get a picture of this one.
I loved getting to see where the family lived and how they decorated their rooms. It was cool.
In the gift shop at the end they sold replicas of Sisi’s jewelry. Is that not the best souvenir of all time? Every palace should sell something like this. Sisi may have been a little crazy, but I still wanted to have the same earrings as an empress. I’m in love.
A few days before coming here, we discovered something wonderful in my Vienna guidebook. There is a zoo in the Schönbrunn gardens. It happens to be the oldest zoo in the world, in fact. I guess the Hapsburgs were into animals. The wonderful part is that there are pandas in this zoo! Me and Olimpia both happen to have a love for pandas. When we bought our palace tickets and saw that it was only 5 euros extra for the zoo, we were sold. One of our best decisions of this trip.
Before getting to the zoo, we had to wander through the gardens. At the front of the palace, I was very sad that the lovely staircase was roped off. But (yay!!)...there was an identical staircase on the back of the palace that was free for me to take princess pictures on.
It was literally impossible to pose normally here. Just standing up there made you start thinking that you ruled the country. It starts to go to your head.
Here’s a view of the gardens and fountain. I’m sure it’s even prettier in summer.
The closest I came to getting to pet a panda was at the zoo entrance.
We had just a little too much fun here.
Buffalo! I was excited to see them because I know they were shipped over from the homeland.
I thought if I kissed this frog he would turn into a prince and buy the palace for me. Sadly, no luck.
The part of the zoo that was NOT fun was the rainforest section. First of all, it was humid in there and it ruined my hair. Second of all, there were bats in there. Just flying around free. Who’s idea was that?? That was much too close to actual nature for my tastes.
Eventually, we made it to the panda section. First we saw the red pandas, which I don’t 100% buy are actually worthy of being called pandas.
Then we saw the real pandas! Named Yangyang and Longhui, in case anyone was wondering. They were pretty adorable, but a little camera shy. I did manage a few pictures with their faces.
This excursion was definitely worth it. Pandas have officially been my second favorite animal ever since the bear unit in 2nd grade, so this was a pretty big deal. I’ve always wanted to see some in person. Along with buying those earrings and posing on the stairs, this was a pretty great day to be Marissa.
We knew that nothing else in Vienna would probably top Schönbrunn and the pandas, but we still had a duty to see some more of the city. Our first stop was Brian Regan-inspired. One of my all-time favorite jokes of his is when he talks about how he thinks the phrase “one thing led to another” is useless and lazy. The example he gives is “Adolf Hitler was rejected as a young man in his application to art school. One thing led to another, and the United States dropped two atomic bombs on the sovereign nation of Japan.” So, so great. Here’s the link.
So yeah. I thought it would be funny to stop by the art school that rejected Hitler.
This is where he took and failed the art exam twice. It’s so interesting to me to think about teenage Hitler living in Vienna as a failed artist and eventually a homeless person- because it seems so different compared to dictator Hitler. Yeah, those are the kinds of things I think about. I’m not thatttttttt weird; I just love history.
Our next stop was the Augustinerkirche. We were excited to see the church because in the crypt you can see 50 hearts of Hapsburg emperors and empresses. How can you not go to see that? People in the olden days were so creepy. Unfortunately, when we got there we found out the crypt is only open on certain days. At least we still got to see a pretty church. Plus, this was the royal family’s usual church. So besides depositing their hearts in the basement, they regularly attended church here and had their weddings here.
In the area of the Augustinerkirche, we happened to walk by the stables of the famous Lipizzaner horses in the Spanish Riding School. These are the horses that made choreographed horse prancing cool, basically. Apparently if you book tickets in advance you can see them perform. If only we had known. Did you know that sometimes even I don’t know if I’m being sarcastic or not? True story.
By this point we just wanted to wander around and see more of the streets of Vienna. I saw on the map that we were close to a famous street, the Ringstrasse, so we went that direction. And here’s the point in my blog where I post all of my random pictures of the pretty streets of Vienna so you can see more of what it looks like.
Vienna is on the Danube River, and I wanted to see it. We took the metro to the nearest stop that looked to be close by the river. Most disappointing thing ever!!! Isn’t there a song with the words ‘blue Danube’? It’s all a lie! In reality it was the ‘grey Danube surrounded by ugly buildings.’ There’s got to be a prettier river view somewhere else in the city.
As it was starting to get dark out we went back to the Stephansdom area for dinner, souvenir shopping, and to take pictures of the church. The day before we hadn’t been able to walk around inside because of mass.
Dinner consisted of pizza (yay for traditional Austrian cuisine), and souvenir shopping consisted of shoes, postcards, and chocolate. I didn’t buy it, but the prize for the best souvenir we saw goes to a t-shirt that said “There are no kangaroos in Austria.” I guess people get confused haha.
By that time it was dawning on us that our train the next day was at 6:30 in the morning. Whose smart idea was that? Oh yeah, mine. So we headed back to the hotel fairly early to pack and figure out what to do the next day.
Next stop: PRAGUE!