Schönbrunn Palace stands tall in the list of Europe’s opulent palaces. Reminiscent of the Baroque era, the Palace is among the classic “must-sees” for tourists coming to Vienna. So make sure you reach here early if you want to avoid long queues. We took the ‘Grand Tour’, wandering through the 40 rooms of the Palace – each evoking an awed response from both me and my husband. Each room has a distinct character and are intricately done. For instance, there is a ‘Rich Bedroom’ with its rich red velvet hangings and precious embroidery in gold and silver. Or the ‘Millions Room’ that is set apart in its decor showcasing scenes from the life of Mogul rulers in India in the 16th and 17th centuries and features panelling decorated with 60 Rococo cartouches with Indo-Persian miniatures. After the tour of the Palace, we explored the royal gardens. The central axis of the palace formed the backbone of the gardens and each section is meticulously set in accordance with the axes. The vast gardens are really an extension of the ruler’s status, but pity we didn’t get a chance to see the flowers in full bloom as we visited in early spring. What I specially loved about our visit was the Easter market, which I hadn't known about before. There was live music, delicious food stalls and glühwein! Cherry on the top? An unexpected snowfall!!
Hotel Sacher Wien
If there is ever a souvenir you want to take back from Vienna, let it be the 3 kilos you will gain from eating all the wonderful food. Sure, Vienna is famous for the Schnitzel, but the chances of you finding one without pork are slim (God bless the chef at our hotel for serving up turkey schnitzel to us everyday!) But if you are like me who won't eat any pork or beef, even better! Because, then you will have all the space in your stomach to gorge on the rich cakes (kuchen in German). First up was the famous Sacher Torte. The Original Sacher-Torte was invented by Hotel Sacher and till this day invite long queues of people wanting a slice of Vienna. The original recipe remains a secret, but it is basically a chocolate cake coated with apricot jam, chocolate icing and topped with whipped cream. It certainly doesn't come cheap, but is worth a try. A walk further down will take you to another iconic bakery of Vienna, called "Aida". A popular bakery in Vienna since 1913, Aida today offers mouthwatering cakes, pastries, macaroons and tarts. They also have their own version of the Sacher Torte. They have different branches all over the city and all are done up in pink decor.
Stephansdom or the St. Stephen's Cathedral is a beautiful Gothic church in the busy centre of Vienna at Stephansplatz. The towering church is ornately patterned and invites you with its delicate and intricate artwork. I remember standing on the pavement across the Church, still and just admiring the architectural brilliance. Don't break your neck as you stretch it to take in the look of the Cathedral in its full glory, though! The Cathedral offers beautiful view of the city from the top. For the health freaks, there are stairs - 343 steps to be precise! For those who would rather take the lift, you are my friend! Just go inside the church and a lift would take you up, of course with a fee.
Atlantis Hotel Vienna
A very comfortable and clean hotel for those on a budget. The staff is super helpful and the breakfast, that's included in the cost of stay, is excellent. The Atlantis Hotel is located on a busy street and is adjacent to a popular shopping mall that includes eateries of all sorts, supermarkets, fashion stores and the mall is also known by all taxi drivers, so getting around is a breeze.