My friends often contact me for help with everything from a restaurant recommendation in an unfamiliar Manhattan neighborhood to packing tips for a dream vacation to Italy. I love sharing my ideas, regardless of how near or far the trip is, but in return, I ask my friends for help with a blog post.
My friend Tom, a twenty-something graphic designer in Manhattan, just recently got back from a two week trip through Eastern Europe (his first European passport stamp). He snapped this photo of Olive hanging out at Schloss Schönbrunn in Vienna, Austria.
The Schönbrunn Palace is the most important cultural monument in the country so I asked Tom to give me a brief summary of his experience at the monument:
Schloss Schönbrunn (Schonbrunn Palace) was the summer residence of the Habsburgs (The Austrian royal family). As you would expect from a royal palace it was loaded with huge sculptures, hallways, and windows. My particularly favorite spot was the gardens. They appeared endless, though in the far distance on a large hill was the Gloriette, a looming Roman-esque structure. Very cool. Overall I’d recommend spending a few hours there as it’s a bit out of the way from central Vienna. You could get carried away and spend half of your day there but much of it is repetition.
And he couldn’t get out of answering my favorite travel questions:
What made you decide to take this trip?
My cousin Allie was studying in Milan, Italy. We met up with her in Budapest, Hungary then spent 2 weeks working our way back to Italy.
Where did you stay?
A nice little hotel right near all of the main attractions. For the life of me I cannot remember the name of it. This hotel was the only place I stayed in Europe to offer a hot breakfast – a rarity!
What surprised you most about Vienna?
Unfortunately, Vienna’s famous Sachertorte (chocolate cake) was rather overhyped and overpriced. Everyone we met told us we couldn’t leave without trying it, but we could have…
What was the best treasure you discovered while in Vienna?
Paprika. They love it there. And I, too, have a newfound love for paprika. It’s great on chicken!
What aspect of Vienna could you do without?
Though I was one, I could have done without the massive amounts of tourists…
Any tips for people traveling to Vienna?
Stay near the Naschmarkt! It was central to everything.
The subway is your friend. It was the easiest subway to navigate of all the transit options in Europe I encountered.
Ride the Riesenrad at sunset. It’s the big old fashioned Ferris Wheel in the Prater (think Central Park with an amusement park). It takes 20 minutes to make 1 loop and if you time it right you’ll see some amazing views of the city as the sun drops.
You must see the Austrian National Library (Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, abbreviated “ÖNB”), it took my breath away. The magnitude of the space itself coupled with its rich ornateness was beyond impressive.
What would be in your essential Vienna travel kit?
Euros, Sunglasses, Camera, Subway Map, more Euros.
Do you collect anything from every destination you visit? (I collect ornaments because I’m obsessed with Christmas.)
Wine corks. Though interesting thing is that all wine bottled from Austria is a screw top, so they really messed up my plan. (The Vienna Review looks into this)
What’s next on your travel itinerary?
I think the next one needs to be a little more relaxing. Caribbean? Though Ireland and Spain are tops on my list when I get back over to Europe.
If you want to take Traveling Olive on your next trip drop me a line @TravelingOlive or leave a comment below.