Having a weekend layover for a business trip would generally be met by groans, but when that layover affords one the opportunity to meander the streets of a city like Vienna, you’ll hear no complaints from me. My brief visit to Austria in June completely blew me away- the grandeur, the flowers, the romanticism… What a city, what a place to live, visit, breathe in!

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Hofburg Palace
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The fiakers, horse-drawn carriages for hire, parked and awaiting customers in front of Hofburg Palace

In Stadtpark, there are “love locks” attached to a little bridge. Love locks are padlocks sweethearts lock to a bridge, fence, or gate,to symbolize their love. Usually their names or initials are inscribed on the padlock, and its key is thrown away to symbolize unbreakable love. Heldenplatz is the square behind Hofburg, adjoining to Volksgarten, a fantastic rose garden. It was in full bloom during my visit.

 

 

Volksgarten and a fiaker transporting two little girls, their parents, and some blue balloons- my girlies would have been in heaven!

The evening brought on some architectural exploration. These are just some beautiful buildings I ducked into as I wandered the streets near the Innere Stadt, right by my hotel. A guy drove his scooter right through the archway on the left as I was inside- I didn’t know you were allowed to do that!

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A lovely ceiling in a building I am not sure I was supposed to be in

The next day brought a tour of Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the imperial family, showcasing really spectacular architecture of the Baroque period. Visitors can view the palace, the first ever zoo (in the world, so they say), a gloriette, a maze and labyrinth,  and another garden called the Privy Garden/Orangery Garden. The zoo, orangery, and maze all cost extra, and I didn’t see those, but it still took me several hours to tour the palace and the rest of the grounds. Details on visiting can be found here: Schoenbrunn

The gardens and the (long and hilly) hike up to the gloriette were my favorite part of the Schönbrunn Palace tour. Aside from the tales of Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who apparently had crazy long hair and an eating disorder. She was also assassinated by an Italian anarchist. Fascinated? So was I. Here’s a link: Empress Elizabeth

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The next big Vienna sight was churches. Not surprisingly, and typical of many old European cities, Vienna has many stunning cathedrals. If you want a good list, this blog has one (I didn’t get to see all of these, since I was only in Vienna for a short trip). Kirche

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Votivkirche at night
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The light hitting a window just right in the Votivkirche
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Gargoyles and spires of Votivkirche

You can also climb up St. Stephen’s Cathedral (South Tower, Türmer Stube), take an elevator up to the Pummerin (North Tower), or go down into the catacombs. The views below are from the North Tower. For more information, click here: StStephensChurch

Another fun destination that is  easy to walk to and view is Hundertwasserhaus. Hundertwasserhaus is an apartment house in Vienna built after the concept of Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser and architect Joseph Krawina. Alongside the building itself is a small shopping center with handmade local arts and crafts and a little wine bar. This was a perfect refuge when a downpour began. I even made a friend on my way, a fellow tourist who just happened to be heading to see the Hundertwasserhaus, too. We walked together and took photographs.

I’ll finish off with a last few photos of Vienna, from around the Innere Stadt. Vienna is a romantic, timeless city- I’d love to return someday.

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The Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanische Hofreitschule
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Archways and fabulous lighting
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More fiakers

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Me from the gloriette with Schönbrunn Palace behind me
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