Wienerschnitzel and the Opera: Traditional Vienna



Vienna Day 3 - Thurs 30 Today was our 2nd day in Vienna for sightseeing, so we had breakfast in the hostel and headed out to Schonnbrunn Palace, another Hapsburg Dynasty creation.

This palace was originally a summer hunting lodge for the royal family, but it was equally impressive to the first place we saw. We did the Grand Tour which was $9.50 Euros (student discount) and included 25 rooms. There was a 40 room tour for 13.50 but we decided the smaller tour was enough. The preservation of the palace was incredible--they have restored everything perfectly, so it really feels like you're seeing what life was like back then.

I didn't realize Marie Antoinette and Archduke Franz Ferdinand were descendants of the Hapsburg dynasty. I read on Wikipedia that the dynasty ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire for 6 centuries, until incest and inbreeding eventually wiped the line out completely. Fun Fact about the royals.

After the tour, we headed around the palace to the back gardens, where I'm assuming the hunting happened. The grounds were massive, yet perfectly manicured. There were extensive gardens, with a hill at the back, which we climbed. At the top you could look out and see all of Vienna--great view.

By that point it was about 2:30 so it was time to head back to the hostel and get ready to hit the Opera (after a quick pit stop at McDonald's, of course). We heard you can get standing room only tickets for under 5 Euros, but you have to go really early and wait in line. Since tonight was the last performance of the opera before they go on hiatus for the summer, we expected it to be packed, and we were right. Luckily we planned for this, and went 3 hours early to wait in line--there were about 25 people in front of us. It's a good thing we dressed up a bit too; people were getting turned away at the doors for wearing shorts (apparently t-shirts were fine..I was not impressed though. You look like a tourist, not someone who belongs at the opera. I always dress up to go to the symphony or the ballet, it's almost like a sign of respect to the performance. So I wore my birthday dress and felt like I belonged.)

We finally bought our tickets and headed into the theatre, where there were several rows of steps where you stand and tie a scarf or something on a railing in front of you to mark your place; they really cram you in there, but people are pretty respectful of the place you marked.

The performance started, and it was Katja (......), which I had never heard of. I was kind of hoping for something traditional like Die Zauberfloete, so some of the melodies I heard my mom singing as a child would be familiar, but no dice. This was a really confusing story in Russian, so I was glad they had the words (in English) on little screens where we were standing. The opera was about a married Russian woman who has an affair, feels guilty and spills the beans, then kills herself. Also included: Monster-in-law mother who practices S&M on the side, and unlikeable main character. The singing was fantastic, though. Kind of balanced out the strange story we witnessed.

We exited the theatre to weather 15 degrees colder than when we entered. After that, we figured we'd give our quest for TRUE Wienerschnitzel one more shot. John caved and had pizza, but Jamie and I held out, and boy were we glad we did. We were basically wandering the streets of Vienna looking for any place that had the traditional dish for under 15 Euros (we saw a few places in the 20 E range, no thanks. I'm not paying more for my meal than my accommodations), and we found this place that was in the basement of a building. Kind of sketchy, but we were starving so we thought let's give it a shot. We headed down 3 flights of stairs into this dungeon with a vaulted ceiling and discovered it had been a restaurant since 1591, pretty cool. Our schnitzel came and it was DELICIOUS. I devoured mine, my salad, and Jamie's too. He had a tougher time finishing but he made a valiant effort.

So. Traditional Viennese cuisine can be checked off my list. I didn't get to a dance class, but I did waltz on the subway, so I'm going to count that.

Tomorrow is Canada Day, and we're catching a train to Budapest, Hungary. Sad I'm missing the fireworks, so I'm repping my Canada t-shirt on the train today. Will be interesting to see how we fare in a country that speaks broken English at best, and we don't know a single word of Hungarian. Yikes.