So dinner was the next order of business. Then checking into our hotel...is that an old school hotel key or what? There was also no air conditioning in our rooms. A little uncomfortable, even if unsurprising. We did have a fan in our bedroom. And we opened the window to get the cooler air flowing. But unfortunately that exacerbated my hay fever. And while we're on that topic...what the heck? I don't normally deal with allergies much. But in Vienna? Something blooming there caused me great amounts of grief our whole stay.
It was still early evening and we decided that maybe some personal exploring of Vienna would be a good idea before we called it a night. Fritz hauled 8 of us plus Nicole into the city center in his big bus. And then let us convince him to join us for some gelato before continuing on to wherever buses and their drivers sleep at night. Nicole more or less dropped her official tour guide act and became just the girl from Vienna she really was, while showing us all her favorite spots in the city she grew up in. Vienna is a beautiful city, and incredibly magical at night. We quite enjoyed our ramble through the city center...and when we were done, we took the subway back to our hotel.
The next morning, Schoenbrunn Palace...the summer palace of the Hapsburgs. Also known as the mini-Versailles...you know, Versaille being that crazy huge palace in France that King Louis XIV (aka the Sun King) built? Marie Antoinette was raised here, one of 13 children birthed by Maria Therese. And interestingly enough, Marie Antoinette grew up to marry King Louis XVI and move from the mini-Versailles in Vienna to the actual Versailles in Paris. Bad timing, of course. Because the French Revolution started shortly afterwards and she famously lost her head. Literally. This history lesson has nothing to do with our story in Vienna, obviously...but I am a history major, one who in college wrote a 20 page research paper about women in the French Revolution, so I digress. Sorry.
Ahem...Schoenbrunn Palace, yes?
And what's a trip to a famous palace without a selfie shot....one that Katie actually caught me taking.
Another selfie... of Katie and Mom, caught this time by Melissa. I found it rather sweet.
After our palace visit we were left to our own devices...lunch was an obvious suggestion, but also any kind of sightseeing or shopping we wanted to do. I really quite enjoyed the balance of guided tours and free time on this trip.
We decided to lunch at a sidewalk hotdog vendor. And even this was quite an experience. After choosing which type of hotdog (who knew there were so many options) they took a big chunk of french bread and basically impaled it on a spike to make a hole down the middle. After squirting my condiments of choice down the hole, the hotdog was then rammed inside. It was the largest, most filling hotdog I've ever had...and perhaps also the yummiest.
I have to admit, when we finally got to the top and pushed open that heavy door I was a little surprised and somewhat dismayed to find...a gift shop. Really? For some reason it seemed like a bit of a let down, I don't know why. But the view of the city from the windows was awesome. I just can't get over those colorful rooftops!
We met back up with Mom, Shari and Barbara inside the cathedral, and after oohing and awwing over the interior we decided to fork out a few more euros and go up the left tower. This ascent had an elevator. My shaky jello legs appreciated that.