Sept. 29, 2018 - Vienna Day 2
There have been rumours swirling on our little boat of less than 200 people that the water levels between Vienna and Budapest are incredibly low and we may have to bus to Budapest. Are the rumours true? You will have to stay tuned...
Our tour for the palace left the ship at 9:30 am. In hindsight we likely could have taken the subway to the palace on our own. Next time...
The palace is the most visited site in Vienna - about 6 million visitors per year.
Schonbrunn was the monarch's summer palace. Every summer they would haul out all their furniture and belongs to live in the palace. Part of the reason to get out of the city was to resist the diseases that quickly spread through the cramped city walls. In the 1700's, Empress Maria Theresa wanted to live in the palace year round and installed heating. She escaped the plague in the city for fresher air at Schonbrunn.
The palace is huge and was built to rival Chateau de Versailles. It dates back to 1569 when the original hunting lodge was erected. The grounds are spectacular. Maria Theresa added the neoclassical Gloriette colonade at the top of the property. It has magnificent views of the city.
There is also a zoo (the oldest in the world) on the grounds - we didn't visit.
After touring the outside of the palace we made our way inside for our tour time of 11 am. Again, no photos allowed. It was packed with people! The Baroque palace has more than 1400 rooms and it is opulent. We started in the Great Gallery and learned how the emperor would hold public audience to listen to the problems of the people. The Hapsburgs ruled for centuries by gaining territory and wealth through marriage. There were marriage to wealthy/ruling families in Portugal, Burgundy, Spain, Hungary...There was a proverb that "the best spouse for a Hapsburg is another Hapsburg". Hmmm...I guess genetic science wasn't as advanced then.
We visited a small portion of the palace - the east wing which is the "newer" side.
At the end of WWI, King Charles I withdrew the Hapsburg role in all state affairs. The Hapsburgs still lead public lives in Austria.
Learning about the history and seeing the palace was fascinating. I liked the intrigue of the secret room. It was a small room with no heating (fireplace) to ensure it was sound proof. This is where the secret deals (weddings, war, etc. ) would be made so the staff could not hear what was being said through the walls. The staff hqd secret passages throughout the palace walls to ensure wood was added to the fireplaces but the staff were out of sight.
After the tour mom, James and I took the subway back to the city center. It was BUSY! We looked around a bit and headed back to the ship.
When docking space is at a premium, the Viking long ships tie together. Your windows line up with the neighboring ship (curtains closed is a good idea!) and and you walk through ships to get to shore. The most we had tied together was three ships but I've heard there can be more.
We had to be back on board by 4 pm to sail off to Budapest. Although the water levels are very low - we are sailing through.
Before dinner we had our disembarkation talk and the "you should book another Viking cruise" presentation.