Friday, 28 June 2013

Vienna, Austria: Horburg Palace, story of Sisi and Schonbrunn..

Our second destination of the trip, Vienna, Austria.

We took a train from Budapest Keleti Train station to Vienna Westbahnhof. The journey was around 4 hours. It could have been shorter if not for the flood which blocked part of the train track. So we alight at Tatabanya station, and changed to a bus which brought us to the next station where we continued our train journey.

We looked like refugees walking through the train track to catch the connecting bus to the next station.

After we arrived at Vienna, we checked in to our hotel, Star Inn Vienna. We booked it when there's a super deal by and it's only 99 Euros for 2 nights! The hotel was a business hotel. The service, cleanliness, size of the room and location were great! It's located just beside Langenfeldgasse metro station. The only thing lacking was complimentary breakfast. Their buffet breakfast cost 12 Euros per person so we didn't take it. Okay, I shouldn't be complaining as mine was the super deal.

The spacious bed..

Spacious shower space and the shower head is Grohe..

The toilet

They had a soap dispenser instead of those small bottles of soap and I loved this design! Just squeeze the bottle to dispense the soap, so you'll only use the amount of soap you need. There's no wastage and people cannot steal bottles of soap home! You can't possible steal this big bottle home because there's no bottle cap. But most important of all, it's very convenient! I dun have to open the bottle cap and pour the soap out, all I need to do was just squeeze it! 

Weather turned for the better when we were in Vienna, and we were able to follow the self guided walking tour of Vienna's Historic City Center which I got from this website.

Our first stop was the Opera House, once we got near it, there were many 'Mozart's who were trying to sell opera tickets. We wanted to get the Opera House tour but was told that it was not available so we were not able to see the architectures in the Opera House. And oh, there's a Brazilian protest outside the Opera House.

The protest

Vienna State Opera House 

We skipped some of the places listed in the self guided tour as we were not too interested in those. So I will just post photos of places where we went.

The Mozart House. We didn't go in as entrance fee was required and it didn't look very interesting to us. We were not quite into Mozart.

St Stephen's Church. I think the names of the churches repeat themselves. I thought I saw a Saint Stephen's Cathedral at Budapest?

Inside St Stephen's Church

Hahaha. Opera Toilet. The entrance fee for this toilet was 50 cents Euro. You could listen to music while doing your 'business'.

The highlight of the trip. Hofburg Palace. It was so huge that it couldn't fit into our camera lens.

Close up 

Horse carriages outside Hofburg Palace. 

There're a few museums in the Hofburg Palace with Sisi Museum being the most famous one. We bought the Sisi ticket (25.50 Euros per ticket) which includes entrance to the following:
- Imperial Silver Collection;
- Sisi Museum;
- Imperial Apartments;
- Imperial Furniture Collection; and
- Schonbrunn Palace.

I thought it's a good deal because if we had bought the tickets separately, it's gonna cost more. Of course if you're only interested in going to 1 or 2 of the places then it'll be better to buy separate tickets.

Our first stop was to visit the Imperial Silver Collection. We were each given an audio guide with our selected language and we're ready to tour the Collection on our own. The Imperial Silver Collection displayed all the silver wares used by the Imperial family, there were exhibits from plates, to bowls, cutlery and even basins. We followed the pathway and walked through the museum. At each exhibit, there's a number card beside it. We would enter the number into our audio guide and it would explain the background and uses of the exhibit item. There's really too many exhibits to see, we only took pictures of some of the exhibits.

The set up of the plates and cutlery.

All the gold wares..

After the visiting the Imperial Silver Collection, we came to the Sisi Museum. This was the most interesting museum to me. This museum was about the story of Empress Elisabeth (in my previous post about Budapest, I had mentioned the Elisabeth Bridge). Empress Elisabeth was called Sisi by her family and friends since young, and hence, the name of this museum. Photography was forbidden in this museum.

We followed the path and walked through the museum. Along the way, we would enter the number shown on the number card at each exhibit, and the audio guide would tell stories of Sisi. It's like a story telling museum, from how Sisi met King Franz Joseph, they got married, how Sisi felt about the marriage, how she led her everyday life, why she got depression in the end and how she was assassinated. There're even exhibitions of the dresses she wore and her accessories.

Generally, Sisi was known as one of the prettiest Empress. She was 1.7 meters tall, with an hourglass shaped body. She watched her diet very closely, did exercises and had massage sessions after her exercises to maintain her body shape. She had long flowy hair which she spent 3 hours everyday to maintain it. She didn't like the life of an Empress as there're lots of restrictions and rules that she had to obey. She was also not on good terms with her mother-in-law, although King Franz Joseph loved her dearly. She had 4 children, but her eldest daughter died at the age of 2. Her depression came when her only son, Prince Rudolf committed suicide. Since then, she became autistic and only wore black colored clothes. She was later assassinated while she was at Geneva, Switzerland.

Hmm.. So it seemed like being a royal was not very good, as there's no more freedom and everything was so restrictive.

Okay, enough of the sad story. Next we went on to the Imperial Apartments. Again, no photography was allowed. We walked through the palace to see how the royal rooms and settings were like, and the audio guide would describe the uses of each room. The decoration of the Imperial Apartment was simple, as King Franz Joseph liked simplicity. I was surprised that this palace was not a very luxury one with crystal chandeliers or other sophisticated architectures.

After visiting the museums,  it's time for our dinner. We found a nice little restaurant, Cafe Diglas.

Nice setting of the cafe.. We booked the whole cafe.. Wahahaha..

Nice soothing music.. The pianist created a nice cosy feel of the Cafe.

Wide selection of sweets! 


Pork schnitzel with yummy potatoes..

Blueberry cheesecake

Sugar icing chocolate cake. This was not so nice. It's too sweet and quite hard.. 

The toilet turned out to be the most interesting thing to explore in the cafe. When I went into the toilet, this was what I saw. I was thinking.. "Huh.. Austrians are so open-minded that the toilet cubicle doors are transparent??!!"

I went in and locked the door. Ta-da! It turned opaque with a no-entry sign! Hahaha..

The next day, we continued to use the Sisi ticket to visit Schonbrunn Palace. Noted that the validity of the Sisi ticket was 1 year since the date of issuance, and it allowed one entrance per attraction. So you dun have to finish all the attractions in a day. Anyway, it's quite impossible to finish all the attractions in a day as each museum was huge and there were many things to explore.

Schonbrunn Palace was the 'holiday villa' for the royals. Hence, it's more luxurious in Schonbrunn palace than Hofburg Palace. But again, photography was not allowed in Schonbrunn, so no photos to show again. But the tour in Schonbrunn Palace was quite fast. We had the Grand tour (included in Sisi ticket) which allowed us to visit all the 40 rooms in Schonbrunn, but it took us only 45 minutes. If we didn't have the Sisi ticket, there's another choice of tour called the Imperial tour where only 22 rooms were visited and it'd only take half an hour. Hmm. I would think that the Grand Tour was more worth it than the Imperial Tour.

In Schonbrunn Palace, we saw the stories of 3 generations of the royal family. I think it was from King Franz Joseph grandfather to his generation. I was confused in Schonbrunn when I saw all the Franz Joseph I, II, III, and the names of the Empress. I already dunno who was who and I couldn't remember the stories and history as well. Aiyah, I just enjoyed and admired the rooms and architectures, that's good enough.

There's a super huge garden outside Schonbrunn which we spent around 1.5 hours walking around it. We also climbed up to the Gloriette, and the views were really great from there.

Exterior of Schonbrunn Palace.. Again, it's so big that our camera lens could not fully captured the whole palace..

Wah.. Could not see the end of the garden.. That's how big the garden was. And this picture was taken when we were standing in the middle of the garden, meaning, this was only half of the garden, the other side was also like this.


And hedges everywhere.. There're mazes in the garden. 

Schonbrunn Palace.. We took this picture when we were further away

The garden. This was only the middle section of the garden.

Finally, the whole Schonbrunn Palace could fit into our camera lens. 

The Gloriette on the hill 

We climbed up the hill!

Closer view of the Gloriette

Us and Schonbrunn Palace 

That's all for Vienna. We decided to step into another country on our last half a day here, since they're so near. So, we rushed to Bratislava, Slovakia.

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