The thing about traveling is right when you think you have the “best moment of my life!”, something even better happens, often unexpectedly. We arrived in Vienna in the evening, and after a quick dinner the tour director (a European native and expert that basically makes sure that everyone gets to where they’re going, and provides tons of local suggestions) had mentioned there was a “free concert in the park.” I didn’t have anything else in mind for that evening, so I went with the flow expecting to be surrounded by maybe 50 other people in a normal sized park that maybe had a platform for a stage and a group of hippies playing music on it. Oh how very wrong I was. The “park” she was referencing was the gardens of Schonbrunn Palace. There were thousands and thousands of people in attendance of this televised event. The stage was professional, and classical music was being played by some of the best. It was nothing short of a privilege to get to experience such a thing. There were no fights, no sloppy drunks, no metal detectors. Just people embracing the spectacular night.
One of the things I appreciated about that experience was that everyone at the concert was enjoying the moment. Sure, everyone took a couple photos, but then they (gasp) put their phones away and listened to the music that they had the opportunity to hear for free on the palace gardens. It was a good reminder for me. Although I’m not obsessed with having my phone on me at all times, I also know I could probably do a better job at putting it away.
The next day we got to actually tour Schonbrunn Palace and its gardens - I love going on palace and castle tours. And I really do think that these are the types of tours that are so much better guided than self-guided as you learn so much more. The girls and I hit up the market for lunch after the tour and walked around until dinner time.
For dinner, the group and I went to this teeny town outside of Vienna and dined at this outdoor restaurant where I ended up being serenaded by men playing the accordion and guitar while singing “Strangers in the Night”. Although this was goofy in nature, I do find that people are more outwardly affectionate and romantic in Europe. I wish Americans were like that more - love is such a beautiful thing, and it should be expressed. After the dinner we drove back to Vienna and stopped at the ferris wheel that gives you the full view of the city, and the Danube River.
The girls and I started the next day back at Schonbrunn Palace and took some pictures before the crowds got there, and enjoyed walking various parts of the gardens. This place seriously has made me add “have a garden” to my bucket list. After strolling the gardens all morning, we went to a cafe called Cafe Diglas. It was at Cafe Diglas where I started having thoughts of “this is a place I could realistically live.” Vienna is known for their coffee and cakes, and Cafe Diglas showed us why. I ordered a regular coffee that was topped with whipped cream (theirs wasn’t as sweet as what we’re used to in America, and I loved it!), and a rum cake that looked like something out of Alice in Wonderland. The other girls all ordered different cakes and coffees, and so we got to try each others. I liked mine the best, but they were all phenomenal.
Fueled with caffeine and sugar, we walked to St. Stephen’s and went inside - very pretty. Then we went and saw the Crown Jewels were are held in museum within the Imperial Palace. After that we were all pretty hungry again, and we were looking for these hot dog looking things and saw a food festival and looked all around for them… and then we realized… we were at a VEGAN festival. We cracked up at our efforts, and ended up enjoying a vegan pita of sorts just because we were starving. Once we refilled our bellies, we went back to the hotel to freshen up quickly and went right back out to watch a Mozart/Strauss performance in a small, intimate room within the Imperial Palace. I took a classical music course in college, and it was one of my favorite classes, so I really enjoyed myself.
I wrapped up Vienna at the rooftop bar on the Ritz overlooking the city while sipping on delicious cocktails. Not sure if there was a better way to end my experience in Vienna.
Other observations of Vienna:
- Public transportation was really easy
- Tons of greenery - parks and lawns and gardens
- Didn’t get a chance to explore it, but there seems to be some cool graffiti art happening there.
- Take note of the architecture in Vienna - so many different styles, all amazing.