My last day in Vienna was spent in total and complete awe. I hit up the last major palace of the area, Schönbrunn, and then I headed over to the Kunsthistorisches Museum for a final special treat to myself. It was a wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL day, and even though walking around in my new shoes felt like my feet were being sliced up and skinned to death, agonies of pain have never been so worth it.
I started my day early, walking from my hostel to the Schönbrunn grounds, and I wasn’t a tad worried about getting lost, as the closer I got to my destination the bigger the crowd got around me who were clearly going to the same place, so I did as any sheep would and followed the herd.
I bought my ticket and entered the most majestic place I have seen since Versailles in France. Schönbrunn was truly spectacular.
I had once more entered castle heaven. Schönbrunn Palace was the Austrian royal family’s summer residence. Its grounds were huge, expanding out for what seemed like forever in every direction.
Behind the palace, beyond some of its gardens and waterworks, is a big hill. On top of this hill stands the Gloriette, a structure dedicated to Maria-Theresa (mother to Marie-Antoinette). This was where I headed first. Still weary of what the weather might decide to do, I wanted to get all of the outside areas done first before heading inside to the palace tour.
I began trekking up the hill, which wasn’t steep, but it was a long journey on a winding path that left me rather winded. At last I reached the top!
From the vantage point of the hill, I had a spectacular view of the palace and its grounds below, as well as the city which was spread out before me.
I actually went up to the Gloriette twice. Just before I left Schönbrunn, the sun decided to show itself from behind the clouds, so I booked it up the long hill for the second time that day so I could see the view as it was meant to be seen – bright and shiny and sunny. If you have the right ticket, you can go up to the top of the Gloriette as well, for a slightly higher vantage point, which I did the second time I was up there.
From the Gloriette I went down the hill and to the left, where I amused myself in the maze and labyrinth section of the grounds.
The first maze I went into was a lot of fun, and despite it looking quite compact from the outside, was actually pretty tricky. I got turned around a lot in it and it took some time for me to find the goal point of the giant tree in the center.
The other two were more like hedged walkways with activity places dispersed in them. There were no dead ends or alternative ways to go, so I found them slightly less fun than the first, only because I really love mazes and the first one was actually a maze. But I enjoyed myself none the less.
Then I explored the privy gardens and some of the grounds. The grounds expand up and out beyond even the Gloriette, into parkways, so I knew I’d never be able to cover everything. I stuck to the areas between the palace and the Gloriette, my feet beginning their descent into “What are you doing to us, we huuuurt, stahpppp!” But nothing could stop me, not even bleeding feet (which it very much felt like was going on down there). I was simply enjoying myself too much.
Next I went to an apple strudel demonstration, where they showed us how to make apple strudel, gave us the recipe to try at home, and let us try a sample – delicious!
Finally, it was time for me to enter the palace. My mind exploded with happiness. It was beautiful inside; the rooms were so elegant. No photos were allowed inside, so I guess you’ll have to go and see it for yourself, which I highly encourage you to do. It was magnificent. I toured 40 rooms in total, the max you can see. They have the Schönbrunn set up for Maria-Theresa and her family, as the Hofburg, from my Day 1 visit, is set up for the Emperor Franz and Empress Elisabeth.
This was where the sun came out and when I went up to the Gloriette for the second time.
I spent five hours at the Schönbrunn and I easily could have spent longer, but there was one more thing I wanted to make sure I got to before my trip was over, so I said goodbye to the palace of my dreams, told my feet to stop complaining, and made my way over to the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
When I was in Versailles, I had been searching for all the famous portraits of Marie-Antoinette. I found them all save for the one of her in the golden dress, and I was extremely disappointed when I couldn’t find it. As it turns out, that’s because it was in Vienna all along!
When I got to the museum I looked for someone to tell me exactly where the portrait was, so I could save my feet the trouble of finding it myself. Unfortunately, I was directed to the wrong room. The Kunsthistorisches Museum is not a small place and its hallways are a bit confusing. I probably hobbled around for a solid twenty minutes before I found what I was looking for. But then, at long last, I found it! The elusive portrait!
As if it were meant to be, there was a couch directly in front of it, and I legit sat on that couch for half an hour just staring in awe at one of my favourite queens of history and the beautiful portrait I had waited a good three years to find. I sat there partially because my feet were in so much pain, but mostly I just wanted to take in the glory of Marie-Antoinette.
When I felt like I could stand without falling over, I got up and explored the rest of the museum. Now that I had seen what I wanted to see, I no longer had tunnel vision solely for that portrait. While art museums are still not my favourite thing to do, I did enjoy this one as they had some pretty neat stuff. It’s definitely worth a visit. There was an Egyptian section, and dang if I don’t love me a good Egyptian section! The coolest thing was the mummified crocodile whose snout had come loose from the bandaging.
The architecture of the museum itself was also quite exquisite.
My last day in Vienna was probably my favourite day, despite the pain I was in by the end of it – note: don’t wear new shoes when the plan is to walk for an entire day.
I would love to go back to Vienna one day and revisit these places and more. But if not, I’m happy I at least got to see them once.
Signing off now travel bugs, see you next time in Amsterdam!