Category: Hidden Gems

Summers Day in Schönbrunn

If you happen to find yourself in Vienna during a summer heat wave, let me share a little insiders secret trail to heavenly relaxation.

First, take yourself to the famous Schönbrunn Palace and marvel at the resilience of tourists who insist on sightseeing in 36°C and beating desert heat.

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Its basically a desert wasteland – with a palace in the middle

Take a left away from the palace, away from the famous rose gardens and meander past the Marionette theatre until you reach these picturesque gates on the right hand side:

Schonbrunn Gates

Habsburg gardens don’t do understatement 

Pass through the gates and don’t be disheartened by the long, dry and dusty path ahead of you. The trees to the left and right will offer some slight relief from the heat.

Schonbrunn Walk

The snazzy Austrian man in green pants will definitely outpace you

If you stroll at a relaxed and steady pace for ten minutes, you’ll soon reach the following staircase, which may look insurmountable to your heat addled brain, but quite ordinary afterwards…

Stairs to Schonbrunner Bad

Your trek up the stairs will be rewarded with this magnificent view over the Egyptian Obelisk monument, the back of the palace and the simmering city skyline.

Monument View

Take your breather here and admire the view

At this point you will start to see children skipping and locals carrying what looks suspiciously like beach and bathing gear.

Strolling to the Bad

 Ignore the overly dedicated runner on the right, and follow the family with the swimming bag!

Suddenly, like a mirage (because who could imagine a swimming pool inside the palace grounds??) the Schönbrunner Bad will appear on your right hand side, and it will be a revelation.

A rolling hillside of green, a bright, clean and cooling pool, big enough for lap swimming, the occassional divebomb and lots of poolside lounging. Most importantly, it is cold and wet and so so soothing after your trek to get here.

Heavenly Pool

Simply pick your spot, splay your towel, and kick back for an afternoon of sunshine and relaxation. Of course because this is Austria, there’s options for activity available…

Beach Volleyball Court

 This particular round got very intense – volleyball is not for the faint of heart

 …but more exciting is the fact that you can order a drink from the on-site cafe and enjoy it while kicking back on the grass.

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A secret royal pool including drinks and summery vibes? I’ll take that option any day of the week!

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Schloss Belvedere

This is one of my favourite little spots to drop by on a weekend. A princely little Palace smack in the middle of all the new construction underway for Vienna’s new – and surely gigantic – Bahnhof. They reckon it is currently one of the largest construction sites in Europe, but in pure Austrian style, its extremely efficiently run, as every time we come back there seems to be a new building. But enough of Bahnhof construction sites, lets see the Palace!!!

I am a sucker for a Palace and as far as they go, I think I like this a liiittle bit more than Schonbrunn. That may be sacriliege to say to a Viennese as Schonbrunn Palace is their number 1 tourist site, UNESCO World Heritage listed etc etc, but for me, something about the Belvedere feels more simple. Well, in terms of Baroque architecture ‘simple’:

The very ‘simple’ main gates!!!

Its a gorgeous little spot just for a stroll or picnic in the sunshine. The Palace itself also holds art exhibitions and has a long long association with artists and the Vienna Secessionist movement (modern art radicals in the early 1900’s).

This was also the Palace where Franz Ferdinand (yes, THE Franz Ferdinand, not the 4 british lads who write catchy tunes) lived before he was assasinated and got the ball rolling for WWI. If its good enough for a Prince and heir to the Habsburg Empire….

Not a bad place to drop by of an afternoon. But if I’m honest with you guys, I maaayy use the palace as an excuse to visit my absolute favourite cafe and brunch spot in Vienna – Hotel Daniel

Its basically a hipster kids paradise – funky design, Instagram worthy seating and magazines, indie but not overwhelming soundtrack and cute-but-cool menu’s. I love it sooo much, feels like a little slice of Melbourne in the middle of Vienna!! Right down to the fixie bikes attached to the wall, functional use of wooden pallet’s and inappropriate seating hanging from the roof

They do the best brunch I’ve had in Vienna – which as a brunch aficiando is saying something. I cannot reccommend this highly enough and find any excuse when visitor’s are in town to go and visit it!! They use local ingredients where possible and get their cakes and cookie related treats from a local lady who bakes. Adorable.

I have to give entire credit and many many thanks to the amazing  Sushi and Strudel blog for leading me here – http://sushiandstrudel.com/2012/05/10/hotel-daniel/

My advice? Go to see the Palace, but stay to enjoy this little gem of a Bakery!

Walk in Wien

Walking was something I only ever did to reach a destination, not an act in and of itself. There was always a goal to be reached, an object to achieve or somewhere else to be.

 Panorama of National Park

Panorama of National Park

Not so in Austria. Here they walk for fun, for exercise, for the sheer joy of it……

River Wetlands

River Wetlands

With landscape like this not 20 minutes outside of the city centre, I can”t really fault them!

Walking Track - fairytale much?

Walking Track – fairytale much?

I was feeling a little worse for wear on Sunday, due to a surprise party the evening before that ended in the trashiest of all places – Bettle Alm. But that”s another post. Suffice to say Sunday was a bit bleary, and despite my protestations we dragged ourselves outside to walk off the pain. Dammned if it didn’t work too!

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Once I stopped looking for the “point of walking” I realised I was actually enjoying myself. And maybe, that’s what I need to do a little bit more of these days – stop looking for the goal, the point, the ultimate aim, and start enjoying what”s right in front of me. The simple pleasure of walking, for no reason at all.

Dead tree pose!

Dead tree pose!

One thing I have definitely noticed from the Austrian’s, and am trying to add into my psyche is their joy of outside, their lack of definition by work. Everything in life here is built around your life outside of work, spending time with your family and enjoying your everyday life. Simple, effective. Look how much this lot are enjoying it! Er, you may have to do some extreme zooming….

Swimming Island

Swimming Island

Double points if you can spot the nudie rudie’s….but I”ll be discussing that particular inclination next post!!

My new aim? Walk more, to enjoy what’s happening around me here and now. So simple. So easy to forget.