Vienna: Schönbrunn Palace and Walking Tour

Today took me to Schönbrunn Palace and on a guided walking tour of Vienna. That was a silly thing to say, wasn’t it? Today took me nowhere. It just sat there on the calendar, hating yesterday and tomorrow for being the far better days they no doubt were and will be.

(It’s possible I anthropomorphize and project myself onto days too much.)

A combination of my legs and one of the hop-on, hop-off busses that’s included in the Vienna Pass I bought took me to today’s activities. That is to say, the bus was included in the pass. My legs were included in me. But you probably figured that out.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace, which used to be the residence of the Hapsburgs is huge. My Vienna Pass included a “Grand Tour” of some of its state rooms. The “grand” in the title of the tour meant only that it included more rooms than the less-grand option.

The tour was not led by a live guide. Nor, fortunately, was it led by a dead one. But you probably figured that out.

Instead, I followed a well-roped, well-stanchioned, well-walled path through the designated rooms. A free audioguide in the language of the visitor’s choice provided a commentary for most of the rooms. I chose English because I didn’t have enough time to learn a new language.

I don’t remember much of what the audioguide told me because I have a memory like a steel, um, a steel, um, you know. Not a trap. Almost the opposite. You know that utensil with a mesh you use to separate solids from liquids. That thing. I have a memory like a utensil with a mesh used to separate solids from liquids. One with a very sparse mesh.

Because of my almost non-existent memory, I can’t relay much of what I heard on the audioguide. Sorry about that.

One thing I do remember is a bit of the commentary in the room that was, if memory serves*, Emperor Franz Joseph’s private room. In there, the voice in my ear told me that Franz Joseph didn’t want the room to be lavishly decorated. I think that was so he could empathize with the common people, few of whom ever set foot in the emperor’s 300-room palace unless they were working there.

(* I suspect that whenever I say “if memory serves,” there is an, at best, minuscule chance that what follows is accurate.)

In my opinion, Franz Joseph failed to meet his not-lavish objective. Or maybe I just have low standards. Probably the latter. True, the room wasn’t as extravagant as some of the other rooms in the palace. Nevertheless, if I decorated my condo like that room I’d definitely invest in a much better lock than I now have on my door.

No photos, please

Unfortunately, the palace-powers-that-be forbid the taking of photos—even non-flash photos—inside the palace. I have a theory about that. The tour exited through a gift shop. (Shocking, I know.) The gift shop sold books about the palace. The books had pictures. If you want to take home pictures, you have to buy the books. Need I say more? (I didn’t feel the need to take pictures home.)

Because I couldn’t take pictures and can’t remember the audioguide commentary, you’ll have to form your own mental images of the rooms in the palace. Because, as I mentioned yesterday, I truly suck at descriptive narrative, I’m not going to bother trying to describe the rooms. So feel free to form mental images of whatever you like. Orchids, peacocks and waterfalls are usually quite attractive. As far as I know, they have absolutely nothing to do with Schönbrunn Palace, but they’d make pleasant mental images nonetheless.

The palace site included beautiful, expansive grounds. I was allowed to take photos outside, so you’ll have to satisfy yourself with the following exterior photos. That is to say, you’re free to satisfy yourself with them if you like. You’re also free to remain unsatisfied. It’s totally up to you.

Shönbrunn Zoo

I also went to the zoo that’s on the palace’s grounds, which was also included with my Vienna Pass. The zoo’s website claims it’s the oldest zoo in the world. Who am I to argue with them?

What do you want me to say? It’s a zoo. There were animals and restaurants, but not together. Except, of course, for the human animals. They were in the restaurants, but they weren’t explicitly on display. But you probably figured that out.

Schönbrunn Zoo was not the largest zoo I’ve been to, but it was also far from the smallest. The animal enclosures seemed relatively humane and adequately sized. Animal rights activists probably disagree with me on that.

I saw a giant panda there. Any zoo with giant pandas gets bonus points as far as I’m concerned. I only saw only one, although I think they had at least a pair because the English version of the signage used the plural form. The German version probably did too, but I’m linguistically challenged in any language other than English. Some people say I shouldn’t exclude English in that statement, but those are only people who know me.

Here are pictures of a subset of the animals at the zoo.

There were a few other attractions on the palace grounds included with my Vienna Pass that I didn’t go to. One, in particular I wanted to see was the Strudelshow (yes, the signage spelled it as one word, so please shut up, spell checker). The Strudelshow was in a restaurant in a building attached to the palace. According to the description in the Vienna Pass brochure, “experienced pastry chefs show how to pull the dough so thin you can read the recipe through it.” I’m neither here nor there on that, but here’s the important part. The description said I could also sample a small piece of strudel. Free strudel! I’m sorry I missed that.

Walking Tour

After I got back from the palace, I went on a one-hour walking tour inside the inner ring of Vienna. (Again, included with the Vienna Pass.) This tour had a live guide, presumably because dead ones take too long to finish.

The guide was quite informative. Then again, if he made everything up, I wouldn’t know. In that case, he wouldn’t be so much informative as Trumpian.

I remember almost nothing of what the guide said, because, stop me if you’ve heard this before, my memory isn’t very good.

One thing I do remember is something he said at the beginning of the tour. I had no idea that Vienna started as a Roman legion post. That remained the extent of Vienna for I forget how many years.

I honestly didn’t know that the Romans got that far. Anyone who knows me expects me to make a pun at this point about roaming Romans. Now that we’ve got that out of the way I can end this travelogue post. (Although, there’s a bonus for anyone who doesn’t leave before getting to this point and who scrolls past the last set of pictures. It’s a rather boring bonus, so hardly a bonus at all. Never mind.)

The following are some pictures I took along the way of the walking tour. Many of them look similar to the ones I took on my aimless wandering yesterday. I covered a lot of the same ground then, but I didn’t know what I was looking at yesterday. Then again, thanks to my memory or, rather, lack thereof, I again don’t know.

Non Sequitur Aside

My Fitbit allows me to select from among the measurements and estimates it takes and makes to set my daily “primary goal.” I chose calories burned and set what is for me a stretch goal: 2,800 calories burned.

If I reach my goal during the day my Fitbit vibrates longer than it does for any of the other nudges it gives me. There’s also a congratulations graphic on the screen. (There is no sound because my Fitbit is incapable of making noise. I wouldn’t have bought it otherwise.)

I’m ashamed to admit that I get an irrational amount of joy when I feel the goal-beating vibration while I’m in the middle of eating an excessive dinner. When that happens, I say to myself, “Yes! Clean that plate!” And, just so you know, I’m someone who normally balks at exclamation marks except when I’m parodying someone who doesn’t balk at them.

By the way, dinner was very good, but very filling.


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