It was love at first sight.
Just months after a challenging episode in my life, I suddenly found my heart beating excitedly again while screaming ‘Lovely’ everytime I gaze at my newfound love.
Even after more than a week of constant traveling and minimal sleep did not douse my spirit. I’ve found a new love and love was staring back at me.
It’s Name: Vienna.
I was the only first time visitor in the capital city of Austria. My mother, sister and brother-in-law have been there a few times before and they were all excited to show me all the lovely sights in the city. I imagined it to be somewhat similar with Salzburg where there was music all over and picturesque old structures. But Vienna certainly has its own charm.
It was a little past noon when we arrived in our hotel. We made our quick lunch and quickly boarded the train for our first stop: The Schönbrunn Palace.
The Schönbrunn Palace is a splendid Baroque style complex and was the former summer residence of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife Empress Elisabeth or ‘Sisi’ as she was fondly called by family and friends.
The words ‘Lovely’, ‘charming’, ‘beautiful’, ‘impressive’ and ‘awesome’ seem to be inadequate in describing this famous palace complex.
We arrived an hour or so after 12 PM so we were not able to get the grand tour. Instead, we were offered the Imperial tour that allowed us to enjoy 22 out of the 40 rooms of the palace. If you are planning to visit the Schönbrunn palace, please come earlier so you can enjoy the grand tour where guests will be ushered in all the 40 rooms of the palace.
Sadly, though, photos were not allowed inside the rooms that were mostly decorated in Rococo style. I was extremely awed by elaborately designed pieces of furniture in the receiving rooms and bedrooms of the royal family.
The palace also features a round Chinese room that contained impressive furniture and elaborate floor to ceiling furnishings decorated in Chinese style that became popular in those days.
My favorite room in the palace is the grand gallery that featured rosewood decorations that lined even the ceiling of the room. Imagine the grand ballroom in fairy tales where the prince and the once embattled princess finally seal their vows and kiss in front of hundreds of other royalties. This huge glorious hall is now a setting for Austria’s state receptions when heads of state come to visit the country.
One of the rooms in the palace featured Sisi’s statue with her back turned to the guests showcasing her glorious heel-length hair which she cared for seriously. I was initially frightened by that tall statue that stood in front of the huge mirror with its back turned against me. Its long, flowing black hair and white gown reminded of Asian horror films (cue Asian horror music). Silly as it was, I think my reaction is forgivable as there were only a small number of guests who were touring the rooms that afternoon. For a few minutes, I stood alone with the statue until a few guests came and I realized that I have been staring at it for a long time.
Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens is a UNESCO world heritage site described as one of the most ‘outstanding’, ‘impressive’ and well-preserved Baroque ensembles in Europe.
Walking into the garden, we were greeted by rows of tall trees and colorful flowers. A brown squirrel crossed our path and moved back and forth while looking at us perhaps wondering if we came with food.
This is exactly what I have always dreamed of: strolling along a cozy path with the tender heat of the sun, fresh air, lively chirping of birds and squirrels occasionally crossing my path. The words ‘beautiful’ and ‘magnificent’ are not enough to justify the beauty of the place. While walking, I silently muttered: ‘This is a dream come true’.
I imagined Empress Sisi enjoying the same sights I was enjoying that day. Living a high-profile life in the palace must be a really tough one. Research said the young empress, who married at 15, disliked court protocols so much. I am sure the splendid Schönbrunn garden was a fitting refuge from it all.
I took a shot of the old photo of the Gloriette situated on the other end of the palace compound. This majestic monument was built in 1775 and bears the inscription: JOSEPHO II. AUGUSTO ET MARIA THERESIA IMPERANTIB. MDCCLXXV (Erected 1775 under the reign of Emperor Joseph and Empress Maria Theresia).
The base of the Neptune Fountain located just below the Gloriette. The Neptune Fountain is named after the Roman god of water, Neptune.
A group of joggers enjoying the vast expanse of the palace compound
If you have time, please visit the Palm garden, the zoo and the labyrinth and tell me about it. The Schönbrunn Palace is definitely one of the places to visit if you ever go to Vienna.
It was a long tour and we were hungry gorillas when we got into the first restaurant that could fill our then growling stomachs. What better way to cap a strenuous day of walking than a buffet at a Chinese restaurant near the palace.
See more of my travels in my future posts and here: www.facebook.com/mannaforjenny.org