The first order of business was getting to Schoenbrum. It was pretty easy going until we encountered a road block in the form of adorable children out on a fieldtrip.
We arrived pretty early and perused the Christmas Market stalls for a bit before going in to tour the apartments. Schoenbrum was such a highlight of our trip in 1998 that I wasn't sure it could live up to my memories. But it did! The palace is spectacular in every respect. The audio guide is very good and the rooms on display are gorgeous. The grounds were winter barren but still attractive--not that we walked far; it was literally freezing outside!
|Christmas market in front of Schoenbrum|
|I bought a small straw "painting" from this stall|
|Back of Schoenbrum|
|The frozen pond|
After doing some shopping and eating in the Christmas market, we subway'd back to Museums Quarter to tour the Kunsthistoches. My first stop, though, was at the Flammenkuchen stand and boy was it good!
We paid our entrance fee, dropped our stuff in a locker, and were deciding on how to view this massive collection when the group decided more food and drink were needed. The restaurant in the museum is in a gorgeous round room and was pretty full. We managed to snag a table and ate and drank there for awhile.
In 1998, we'd had a guided tour of the Kunsthistoriches and I do not remember the guide mentioning the Klimts on the columns above the grand staircase. This year we searched for them and made good use of the magnifying glass strategically placed on one of the balconies. Gorgeous art by Mr. Klimt!
We explored the painting galleries and their overwhelmingly beautiful collections. A nice touch was that each room was kind of "themed" so a bunch of Raphaels or Bruegels or Peter Paul Rubens' were hung together with a poster to explain a bit about the artist, period, influences, etc. Nicely done.
|Raphael, The Madonna of the Meadow, 1505 or 1506|
|David Teniers Younger, Painting Gallery, 1650|
We happened upon a delightful Vermeer in one of the side rooms. He only painted 34 canvases. We're lucky to have seen 9 in one year!
|Vermeer, The Art of Painting, 1666/68|
|I love the Christmas trees in Europe!|
After the paintings galleries, we set out to find what was purported to be the most costly item in the collection. And it was spectacular!
|Cellini's Salt Cellar, 1540-43.|
We had a 7pm reservation for dinner at Vestibul, which was recommended to us by some regulars at Steirereck. The restaurant was close to the Rathaus so we took the tram to the Rathaus stop and were immediately impressed by the Christmas Market. It was really quite a show! The lights were gorgeous!
|I wonder how tall the tree was?|
|Gluhwein and a little shopping go well together|
The skating rink was so pretty! I would have loved to take a turn (except for that clumsy gene and probably breaking my leg part).
The Vestibul restaurant was basically across the street from the Rathaus. We arrived, divested ourselves of our coats, and sat at a cool alcove table in a half full restaurant. The chef came out to talk about the special truffles and the servers explained the menu quite well. This was my favorite dinner in Vienna (as Steirereck was my favorite lunch). The restaurant was beautiful and warm, the staff were excellent, and the food was delicious.
|The Christmas cookies were delicious!|
We walked back through the Rathaus market and happened into another lights display, which was just gorgeous, too. Vienna does lights really well!
We meandered back to the hotel, had one last look at the Staatsoper, and said goodnight to the pink bunny. It had been a fabulous last day and night in Vienna!
1. Vienna was just as fabulous as I remembered. There was a lot less graffiti than in 1998.
2. Transportation in Vienna is ridiculously easy to use.
3. When foodie locals make a recommendation, listen! Vestibul was fantastic.
4. The Rathaus Christmas market was the best in decorations but Karlskirche was the best in crafts.
Next: Early train to Prague, first impressions