We started our first full day in Vienna with a trip to Schönbrunn Palace, the Habsburg’s summer residence. The rooms were very beautiful and the tour was really interesting. We learned a lot about Maria Theresa and Franz Joseph I. I bought a book about the Palace and a lot of postcards (which later were all lost in the mail). We didn’t have a lot of time after the tour to look around the gardens behind the palace so I had to make the most of my time. I ran down the main garden axis to the the other end to take photos of the fountain, then ran back all the way to the bus, which was parked on the street in front of the palace beyond the big entrance court. When I got back to the bus, Roberto, our driver, gave me a bottle of wine from his stash for my birthday.

After Schönbrunn we ate lunch at a coffee house near the hotel. I had a veggie strudel that was delicious and some very rich hot chocolate. We got a few desserts to share and concluded that the Linzer torte is not all that great (or maybe we just didn’t get a good slice).

In the afternoon we had our walking tour of Vienna. We saw St. Stephens, the Hofburg, the plague monument, the Lipizzaner Stallions’ stables and even a few of the horses-in-training. We also saw the royal church and the royal library.

That night we skipped the optional excursions and went out for Aunt Pat’s birthday. Amy and Laura had planned ahead, and made reservations at the Danube Tower revolving restaurant. The weather didn’t cooperate – it was raining a lot and the language barrier resulted in our cab ending up way off course. But, once we got to the Tower, the views were spectacular and the food was delicious. We even received champagne and cakes for our birthdays!