Friday, October 2, 2009

10/2: Vienna doesn't disappoint, except that we have to leave it

For our last day of sightseeing (and only full day in Vienna), we decided to start off with a 3-hour city bus tour and walkthrough of the Schonbrunn (Hapsburg summer) palace. The palace has been restored to the way it was when Maria Theresa lived there - almost erasing everything from the 200 years since. Having been to a number of royal palaces in the past few years, perhaps the most interesting thing here was the kitschy but fascinating behind-the-scenes view of the servants' quarters and between-the-walls access that was between the end of the tour and the gift shop.

From there, hungry and suffering from chocolate deprivation, we headed straight for Demel, the trying-harder "Avis" of Viennese cafes to Sacher's "Hertz". Sampled their version of the sacher torte, viennese sauage, vanilla custard torte, melange coffee, and house coffee w/ unsweetened whipped cream - delightful! Definitely a must for any foodie passing through Vienna. When back in the States, it's always such a chore to order fried breaded escalope of veal and mini sausages all the time. If I had to pick one thing I love about Vienna, it's that you can walk into any cafe and just order "schnitzel" and "sausage" and they know what you mean. Now that's convenience!

Passed through the Kaisergruft (Capuchin Crypt) of the Hapsburg monarchy. I have to say I was disappointed - having seen the actual decomposing bodies at the Capuchin Crypt in Palermo Italy, this was just a viewing of ornate caskets. It was nice to walk by Maria Theresa's final resting place, but I really wanted to see her rotting corpse. Oh well!

After strolling through the numerous pedestrian-friendly streets, and sampling the Austrian tourist specialty "Mozart Balls", we headed on to pick up standing-only tickets at the Opera. Although they stated that standing tickets go on sale 20 minutes before curtain, we arrived 35 mins before curtain and could barely find a place to stand as it was completely packed like a very crowded bus. As the hours rolled by, the spaced opened up reasonably quickly. There's nothing quite like seeing the Vienna State Opera in action with Seiji Ozawa conducting!! If his name sounds familiar, you might have lived in Boston sometime between 1973-2002.

Stopped by Sacher Cafe to see if they live up to their reputation for serious business -- and they do! The waiter was as rude (by American standards) as I had been told to expect -- how quaint! Just to throw him off, we bucked the trend and ordered soup and wine rather than cake and coffee.

Please see Olga's take on our final day of Eurotripping:

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