Weekend in Vienna
Bought a Vienna Pass for 16,90 Euros/adult, an accompanying child free with every ticket. The Vienna Pass entitled us to free metro, tram, bus for 3 days, plus concessions into sites.
From the Kavalier hotel we walked to the Schonbrunn Palace, the summer residence that the Habsburgs inhabited for 600 years.
The imperialistic palace is surrounded by extensive manicured gardens, with maze garden, long tree lined paths/roads and zoo. But as you can see in the winter is covered with snow and bare, but still beautiful.
To walk around 40 rooms of the Schonbrunn cost us 25Euros which included an English audio guide that explained what each room was used for, talked a little about the decorations (most of the rooms were decorated in a rococco style from the time when Marie Therese was the matriarch). The majestic rooms gave you a feel for life as it was for Empress Maria Therese and her 16 children, and also Elizabeth(Sisi) and Emperor Franz Joseph I. Hanging on the walls were portraits of the royal family or fashionable art of the time, like decorative ebony panels from the east and collages created by the royal children. There were Rubenesque frescoes on the ceiling, crystal candeliers and extensive use of gilding. The crowning jewel of the original furniture on display was Maria Theresa's king size wedding bed, complete with canopy and curtains in an elaborate gold and silver embroided red velvet. Mozart played his first concert at the age of 6 in one of the rooms in front of Maria Theresa. Tour the rooms at http://www.schoenbrunn.at
"Tiergarten Schonbrunn(the zoo)"
A short stroll from the palace was Tiergarten Schonbrunn(the zoo)- 10 euros all up, with its prized exhibit....a koala! For Austrians maybe but for us the first animals to catch our eyes were the playing Pandas, romping and tackling each other in the five inches of snow in their outside enclosures. It was extroadinary to see how a zoo copes with snow. Most of the animals had heated inside enclosures and access to the outside if they desired to brave the minus zero conditions.
"Other places visited in Vienna"
From St Stephan's we walked throught the grounds of the Hofburg Imperial Palace to Kunsthistorische Museum (Museum of Art History) to marvel at its classical collection - Rubens, Breugal, Vemeer .... Eygptian.
Then across the gardens to the Naturhistorisches, with its collections of minerals, stuffed animals/birds, dinosaur bones and artifacts, including (I was very excited!) the Venus of Willendorf.
Very tired the third day we ventured to the Osterreichische Galerie Belvedere which holds a famous collection of Gustav Klimt, in particular, "The Kiss".