The weather remains very pleasant in Europe. Today got up to around 28 degrees in Vienna and even when we went out late afternoon it was still around 26 degrees C. H and O went for an early morning run and by all accounts enjoyed the experience of running next to the Danube, through parks filled with statues of composers and past other historical sites and impressive buildings.
We had breakfast at one of the nearby cafe & coffee houses. Food is never cheap in places like Vienna but €5.70 for 200ml orange juice (almost R100) does seem quite excessive. It was a nice breakfast though despite the cost. We wanted to go visit Schönbrunn Palace this morning. As the cafe was right next to the U-bahn we decided to figure out how to take the U-bahn there (which turned out to be pretty straightforward).
The Palace was the summer home of the Habsburg monarchs and was finally the home of Franz Joseph (Austria’s longest reigning emperor) who was born and also died in the palace (he died in Nov 1916). In Nov 1918, the Habsburg monarchy came to an end and the Palace was taken over by the Austrian Republic. Franz Joseph seemed to be quite a good leader and really believed he should act in the best interests of the people of Austria. It is clear that the Austrians still love him as many buildings and roads bear his name. He was also pretty hard-working and used to work from 5am in the morning through to dinner including taking his breakfast and lunch at his desk (a man after my own heart).
The Palace and its grounds are very impressive. We had access to 40 rooms on the tour (which took about an hour to complete) and the Palace actually has 1441 rooms. For the age it was built it was also pretty sophisticated including a form of central heating (through stoves) and separate bathrooms. Franz Joseph also had a separate toilet installed (according to him in the ‘way of the English’). The gardens lead up to the Gloriette which is apparently the best known Gloriette in the world (didn’t know what a Gloriette was even until today and now I have seen the best one in the World … amazing day). The view from the Gloriette is back towards the Palace and across Vienna (that’s what the picture shows and is also evidence that we climbed the pretty steep hill).
By the time we got to the top everyone had started to develop sore feet but we still had to walk back down and to the U-station. We took the U-bahn back to the hotel, bought some lunch from the Spar (cheapest and easiest option) and went and ate lunch on the grass in one of the nearby parks. The rest of the afternoon was spent trying to reclaim our feet and legs.
A late afternoon walk to the museum quarter, up to the Rathaus Park and to the University of Vienna. A quick look around the university main building and then we headed to the other restaurant I had been recommended (by the Vienna branch manager). Unfortunately it was about a 25-minute walk away and the complaining started around 15 minutes of walking … “are we there yet”, “how much further” … I thought we were past that stage but clearly not. I just hoped that when we got there we could actually get a table otherwise I might have had a riot on my hands.
Dinner was at Plachutta (https://www.plachutta-wollzeile.at/en). Last night we did Weiner Schnitzel, tonight it was Tafelspitz and that is what Plachutta is famous for. It is basically boiled beef (you can choose which cut of meat you want) served in a beef broth with a marrow bone and in a copper pot. It was Franz Joseph’s favourite meal. 4 of us decided to go for that as our main course and M & C went for a variation in Weiner Schnitzel for M and Fillet Tips (basically beef stroganoff) for C. They were also traditional Vienna dishes. The way you eat Tafelspitz is to first have a bowl of the beef broth, then you eat the marrow on black bread and then you eat the boiled beef with applesauce & horseradish. It was a great experience (washed down with a local beer which even Helen had). It is a dish I would put on my weekly menu but I am glad we gave it a try. As S said, the beef did taste like you would expect boiled beef would taste. A 15-minute walk back to the hotel had everyone moaning again but shoes and sore feet. My FitBit app said I walked over 20000 steps today which is over 15 kms. No wonder our feet are sore!
Until tomorrow …
P, H, M, O, C & S