Archive for April 27th, 2012

Schoenbrunn Palace

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One of the good things about having an apartment instead of a hotel is that you can have whatever you want for breakfast. One of the bad things is that you have to buy and prepare it, and clean up after yourself. It took longer than we expected this morning to walk to the store and buy a few basics, also we were embarrassed when we did not know (or forgot) to weigh the bananas before checking out. And what did I say as the cashier handed me my change? “Gratza” (half way between “grazie” and “danke”), oy. Despite this tic, my German is much better than my Italian and I can communicate quite well. I notice that some (not all) of the people we pass in the street have distinct Austrian accents (imagine someone sounding like Arnold Schwarzenegger’s non-body-builder cousin). I could fake such an accent in English but I’m not sure I could do so in German.

After breakfast (Greek yogurt with banana, chopped walnuts, and honey), we used the amazing “qando” app (really, if you are coming to Vienna you must have it) to plot out our transit route to Schoenbrunn Palace. It worked like a charm. The palace itself is overwhelming, the grounds incredibly vast… allees wide as a football field… sculptures that would be the highlight of some small museums just acting as side pieces on larger works… a 45-minute walk to the Glorietta, a small (by comparison) building high above the rest of the grounds, with a great view of the palace and the city.

We had coffee and lunch at the Glorietta cafe (whose decor features a frieze of cow skulls): Schinkenfleckerl (“pasta with ham Austrian style”) and Gulaschsuppe. A bit on the expensive side, but really very good for a cafe inside a tourist trap, and the waiters were not college kids but older men, very professional. We wandered through the palace’s two (!) hedge mazes before touring the palace itself. Wow.

Only 40 of the palace’s 1440 rooms are on the tour. San Simeon shows what you can do with effectively unlimited money, but this shows what you can do with taste and effectively unlimited money. The only downside of the tour was that the rooms were decorated as they had been in a variety of times, leaving me with a completely muddled idea of who was emperor when.

Our ticket also included the Crown Prince’s Garden, but by the time we finished the palace tour Kate was all out of spoons (her knee is doing better but it still takes more energy than usual for her to walk) so I shepherded her home for a nap. While she napped I ran a load of laundry, updated my notes, checked finances and phone usage, etc.

I wanted schnitzel for dinner. We looked online, found nearby Schnitzel Sisters that sounded fab, but after much wandering in its supposed vicinity we determined to our satisfaction that it had been replaced by a sleazy-looking Asian restaurant. Alas. Another online search found “Zu den 2 Lieserln” (Burggasse 63), which was also recommended by our host at the apartment. It looked closed, but a small sign led around to the side where we found an airy courtyard under two trees. We had Almdudler (an “herbal soda” that reminded me somewhat of Irn Bru though not so orange), Wiener Schnitzel, goulash, potato salad, sauerkraut… OMG YUM. We really shouldn’t have eaten all of that, but just couldn’t stop!

Too pooped to tourist any more, we went back to the apartment by way of an ATM (they don’t seem to give receipts here). The apartment is equipped with a DVD and VHS player, so we looked at the video collection and found Go Trabi Go, a 1980s East German film we saw at the Portland International Film Festival and would love to see again, but it’s unavailable on video in the US. This was a non-subtitled VHS tape so we didn’t get much of the dialogue, but it’s a pretty broad comedy so it was still enjoyable. We watched about half of it before heading for bed.