Timeline: September 7th – 10th
Our last day in Vienna would be simple; laundry in the morning and a visit to Schloss Schoenbrunn in the afternoon. One of the advantages of travel today is the wide variety of clothing one can use to make it easier, particularly travel on the run. During my earlier journeys, I relied entirely on cotton fabrics to get me through. While comfortable in a narrow range of temperatures, it doesn’t do well in the extremes and require frequent washing.
Today’s poly blends provide good performance in a wide range of temperatures, resist orders and don’t wrinkle, a boon to travelers like us. Given our schedule, we sometimes go as long ten days in between laundry, so I find myself living in the following clothing:
- Patagonia Fore Runner Shirt – Fantastic performance, great for all temperatures, layers nicely and resists odors.
- Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Low Rise Flyless Brief – Same as with the T-Shirt above. Resists odors and can be easily hand washed.
- North Face Paramount Peak II Convertible Pants – Good in a wide range of temperatures, zip off legs turn them into shorts. Fast drying and best of all, multiple pockets for securely storing wallet, car keys, loose change, and all the crap I carry.
- Ex Officio Pisco Plaid Shirt – Stylish yet comfortable, handles a wide range of temperatures and doesn’t wrinkle. Fit can be tricky though. The size large I bought gapped at my waist until I lost some weight. But an XL would have been way too large.
- Mountain Hardwear Mountain Tech™ II Vest – Perfect for layering over a long sleeve t-shirt during those in-between moments of weather when a jacket offers too much coverage.
We finished up the laundry and made our way into town and then out a few stops to the Schloss Schoenbrunn. The tour is a quick one, with a good audio guide, but no pictures are allowed inside. By this time we’ve seen just about every major palace in Europe, covering almost all of the history of European Royalty.
Those were times of excess on one hand with poverty and deprivation on the other. One can see why some dynasties were overthrown through revolution. And yet remarkable achievements were accomplished and there did exist, in many places, a thriving middle class. In some ways not much different than today, making one wonder given the gaps between rich and the rest of us in the US if we might be ripe for one?
We spent an even longer time walking through the immense gardens of the property; savoring the workout it gave us with a long climb up a hill and the chance to enjoy a bit of solitude after a crowded house tour. We finished up our visit with a beer from a kiosk and then took the metro back into the Opera to do one more bit of souvenir hunting and seek out some dinner.
Our original intent was to take in a Heuriger, a uniquely Viennese institution. When the Habsburgs let Vienna’s vintners sell their own new wine tax-free, several hundred families opened these wine garden restaurants clustered around the edge of town and a tradition was born. They serve their homemade wine, the most recent vintage, small meals, and offer strolling musicians. **
The only problem with visiting them is they require a bit of navigation, and walking, to get to them and I was beat up from the day. My body has responded remarkably well to our regimen of walking and standing, but there are days when I hit the wall and can’t do any more. So we decided to visit Gigerl Stadtheuriger, described as a near-Heuriger experience inside the city, located not far from St. Stephensplatz.
Food is supposed to be served buffet style, that is, you locate something you’d like, point to it, it gets weighed, and you are served. But when we arrived a not so friendly waitress handed us menus and it appeared our only option was a 25 Euro fixed price meal, not our cup of tea that evening. So we went back outside consulted the Steve’s and walked a few blocks over to Gyros, coincidentally located across the street from the Haus der Musik.
We entered and were warmly greeted by the owner (Izmir per the Steves), sat down and ordered some drinks. He asked us if we’d like some hummus and bread to start with and we said yes, the only downside of the meal. What we ended up getting was a 9 Euro appetizer plate with different types of hummus, sliced tomatoes, cucumber, and Tzatziki, refreshingly good and yet we felt in the end as if we’d been taken advantage.
That one detail aside, our meal was very good. Joanna ordered the special of the day, fresh whole sea bass while I had chicken skewers with salad and rice. It was a very refreshing change from our regimen of heavy, mostly pork based foods and the appetizer element aside, we agreed that it was a very nice way to end our stay in Vienna.
Unlike Prague where much had changed since our last trip in 1992, Vienna was the same, and yet different. Then we had four-year-old Jessica along and tailored the visit to her capacities. This time we could explore as we desired and when coupled with an outstanding day on the bikes, we’ll look back fondly at our time there.
Patagonia Fore Runner Shirt: http://www.patagonia.com/us/product/mens-short-sleeved-fore-runner-shirt?p=23657-0
Ex-Officio Give-N-Go Low Rise Flyless Brief: http://www.exofficio.com/products/details/mens-give-n-go-flyless-low-rise-sport-brief
North Face Paramount Peak II Convertible Pants: http://www.thenorthface.com/catalog/sc-gear/mens-pants-shorts-filter-category-pants/men-39-s-paramount-peak-ii-convertible-pants.html?variationId=254&variationName=DUNE%20BEIGE
Ex Officio Pisco Plaid Shirt: http://www.exofficio.com/products/details/mens-pisco-plaid-long-sleeve-shirt
Mountain Hardwear Mountain Tech™ II Vest: http://www.mountainhardwear.com/mens-mountain-tech-ii-vest-1559751.html?dwvar_1559751_variationColor=051#start=3
Schloss Schoenbrunn: http://www.schoenbrunn.at/
Gigerl Stadtheuriger: http://www.gigerl.at/
** Attributed to Rick Steves Eastern Europe, Page 1175