I really didn’t know much about Vienna before we traveled there last summer. We spent 2 days there as part of a 2 week/7 Country Group Tour through Europe.
I did some research on Vienna before going and discovered The Schonbrunn Palace. The Austrian Royalty’s Summer Palace. It looked impressive. I was especially excited to visit there since we would not have a chance to see Versailles when we got to France. It is sort of a Mini-Versailles.
Schonbrunn did not disappoint. We spent our morning with a guided tour of the Palace before exploring the beautiful Gardens that surround it. I love the Gloriette beyond the ponds and paths. One can only imagine the stories it could tell!
Midday we were provided a walking tour of the city of Vienna. The tour lasted about an hour winding us all through the city. We saw Cafe Sacher where they make the famous Chocolate Torte and I noted the location so we could circle back later. While on the walking tour, our Guide showed us the Lipizzan Stallions and the Arena where they perform as well as the Winter Palace. She mentioned that the President of Iran was at the palace that day in meetings with Austrian Officials. As we were passing some merchant stalls along our tour, I saw an amazing Klimt “The Kiss” shirt that I knew I had to have. I don’t often have to have that sort of thing, but this shirt was 100% Me.
After an hours walk in the mid day sun, our Guide left us near the Winter Palace at the steps to the Albertina Museum. Everyone was hot, a little tired and thirsty. We were given a time a few hours from then to meet back at the steps of the Albertina. Everyone eagerly disbanded to enjoy some coveted free time.
Mark and I looked at each other and shrugged. We were too hot and overstimulated to engage in a plan. The first thing I needed to do was find a restroom. Europe is not the same as the United States where free public bathrooms are available everywhere. There is usually a fee to use restrooms and they can be a bit harder to locate.
As we stood there pondering our options, a sign with a scrolling advertisement for the Albertina Museum stopped to display artwork by Edgar Degas (my very favorite artist). It advertised that an exhibit of Impressionists and Monet were currently available to view at the museum. The plan found us.
We went inside and bought our tickets for 16 Euros each. The first thing we did was find the free restrooms. Yay! Then we enjoyed our tour through the air conditioned museum.
I was a little sad that there was only one Degas and it was not one of his more notable works, but I did find many other wonderful pieces of art. There was a series of Picasso’s, a cask hand carved by Paul Gauguin, and several pieces by Monet. We also found a room filled with fascinating architectural drawings for famous buildings.
The real treat though, was finding a collection of Klimt drawings and pieces tucked into a different section in the museum. Since there was no real signage alerting us to their presence, it was a big surprise when I discovered them. I was thrilled!
I wasn’t familiar with Gustav Klimt until the movie about the Woman in Gold came out. The movie piqued my interest and I began reading and learning all about his life and artistic style. I have become a huge fan of his works. So different. I am a real Arts and History Nerd!
After viewing all the exhibits that we wanted to see, the air conditioning had cooled us back down, our bladders were emptied, and we had relaxed a bit, we were then ready to explore Vienna.
We found our way back to Cafe Sacher to share a slice of their famous Chocolate Torte and a Cafe Melange. We also had the time to find the stall selling the Klimt shirts. This day was turning out to be quite fabulous. Then we headed back to the meeting place at the Albertina.
To our surprise, as we waited with a portion of our group at the Albertina, the street filled with Police. Part of our group was on each side of the road and our bus unable to reach us. The President of Iran and his Motorcade suddenly passed right in front of us. Several sedans and vehicles filled with heavily armed, stern looking men carefully eyeing the crowd. Wow, that was super cool. Like being in an action movie.
Rudy, our driver, finally made his way to the rendezvous point and we quickly filed onto the bus. The afternoon was getting late and we still had to freshen up for our last event of the day, a fancy dinner followed by a Viennese Concert. We certainly “Maximixed our Experience” as our Tour Director, Emile, would say. We managed to fit a lot into that one day in Vienna.
Finding the Albertina Museum was most certainly a very Happy Accident indeed! Keep your eyes open to adventures as they appear when you travel. Sometimes those unplanned finds end up being some of the best things you do on your trip.