Today, we awoke as we have every day in Vienna, to the church bells of Saint Elisabeth, located just steps from our apartment. We had such a variety of activities planned for our last day in Vienna.
First we walked a few blocks to the U-Bahn station and caught the train to Schonbrunn Palace (Schloss Schonbrunn). This was the summer home of the Hapsburgs and is one of the two largest palaces in Europe.
The opulence of the Hapsburg life that we saw yesterday at the Hofburg, was emphasized here at Schonbrunn. The highlights of our visit were a tour of the Royal Apartments and strolling through the palace gardens. The palace consists of 1441 rooms; we toured 21 of them. The audio guide provided us with great information, much again on Franz Josef and Sisi, but also Empress Marie Theresa.
The palace gardens occupy about 435 acres and consequently, we only saw a small portion. They are amazing and I can only imagine what they look like when in full bloom. However, I’ll trade that sight for what I can only imagine the summer crowds are like, as Schonbrunn is Austria’s most visited spot.
After leaving Schonbrunn, we took the train back to city centre and hopped on a tram.
Arriving at our destination, we first stopped for lunch at what sort of looked like a haunted house. It was in fact a very interesting restaurant with great soup!
We crossed the street to the Zentralfriedhof, Vienna’s central cemetery. This is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, largest by number of interred in Europe and the most famous cemetery among Vienna’s nearly 50 cemeteries. The cemetery spans 2.4 square kilometres with 3.3 million interred here, up to 20-25 burials daily. It was amazing to see the grandeur of the headstones, family mausoleums, and statuary.
In the cemetery is a section devoted to great composers. Not all of these were originally interred here, but they were moved here to encompass a great musical tribute.
After a very interesting time at the Zentralfriedhof, we were back on the tram, over to the U-Bahn and we emerged at the Prater. The Wurstelprater amusement park, commonly called the Prater, is a large public park filled with permanent attractions. The 220 foot Riesenrad Ferris Wheel is the most famous attraction. It was fun to walk through the park and watch Viennese families at play.
Our final plan for the day involved another trip on a tram – this time to a Heuriger district. These areas are home to family-owned wine garden restaurants. They sound great but unfortunately, we picked a small district and the Heurigers were either closed or very busy. But there was a Biergarten restaurant in the area so in we went. It was a great choice – small tavern atmosphere and great food and beer. Larry had an amazing Styrian Beef salad, Deb enjoyed a salad with chicken strips and Harv & I shared pork schnitzel, a baked potato with feta & spinach and salad.
It was another grand day in a grand city!