Monday, May 28, 2012

Outside of Vienna, Beyond the Ring

05/28, Monday
The public transportation here is "precise" and convenient. Today we are headed to the Schönbrunn Palace, another summer home for the monarch dating to the 1800s. It is beyond the Ring as well as the outer Ring and beyond the Gürtel so we take two U-Bahn to get there...maybe 25 minutes.

Schönbrunn is a huge estate...1441 majestic rooms plus a monster garden outside the Ringstrasse. Even though we've seen several other "royal apartments" in other cities and countries, we decide to take the tour here, too...only 40 rooms. (Many of the "apartments" are now rented to civil service workers to help support the maintenance of the property.) The monarchy ruled for 600 years until 1918. Then they weren't sure what to do with these magnificent palaces, but tourism became the answer. The Schonbrunn is the most visited site in Vienna. The gardens were also fantastic, where roses grow like weeds.

While the opulence is somewhat redundant from one palace to another, what we find interesting is the history of the royals and trying to understand the family tree. It is foreign to our American experience (no King's or dukes, etc.), it is confusing to put the lineage all together. Queen Maria Theresa (1790s) was the only female monarch in over 640 years of the Habsburg empire. Along with ruling, she had 16 children ! The more children that could be married off in other countries, the more peace without war. The Hofburg family ruled for over 600 years.

Since we are on the outskirts of Vienna, we U-Bahn to the end of U4 and bus 38A to the Vienna Woods high above the city. There we enjoy a late lunch on a terrace overlooking the city. Very special. We hike down a pretty path and our timing was good since it started to rain right when the bus arrived. The woods help keep the city pollution free and it is one of the cleanest cities I have ever been in. Another wonderful thing about Vienna is that it is so quiet. It is actually against the law to beep a horn in this city unless an accident occurs. There is a heavy fine for anyone not obeying.

In the evening we sit outside the opera house and watch a marvelous ballet, Don Quixote, on the new huge screen they have recently installed. What a grand thing and completely free. Plus you could hear the music perfectly since there is no street noise. The dancing and the music were superb. A wonderful summer-like evening in Vienna. This made up for missing last night's opera.

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