We stopped again at Schonbrunn Palace. A beautiful old castle with countless rose bushes around the perimeter to charm my mother. We took a few pictures with the rose bushes and went inside the palace gates. Lots of people were milling around. We could see a band practising for some event along with soldiers who marched along to the tunes.
We explored a little more and saw a gate leading to a garden. A ticket kiosk stood guarding the entrance. We bought our tickets to go inside. The garden was beautiful, with neatly trimmed bushes and colourful array of flowers. We went a little further and discovered a small tunnel sort of pathway covered with plants. We walked through the tunnel and after a few minutes, emerged on the other side. The brilliance of sunlight was blinding, after walking through a dark tunnel for about fifteen minutes.
The garden behind was nothing compared to the actual gardens. Lush green grass covered every inch of the ground, bushes trimmed into cuboidal shapes carved the gravel path ahead. At a distance we could see a few fountains and rows and rows of orange and red flowers. We walked through one of the paths covered with trees on both sides. We came to a stop in front of one of the many fountains that adorned this place. The fountains all over the city were quite similar. They all had blue coloured sculptures in the middle, which usually depicted some mythological creature or people. Mummy noticed something else. All the sculptures we had seen so far had a fish or some other aquatic animal. I don’t think it really means anything apart from the fact that Viennese people love aquatic animals, but its still really cool.
We explored a little more, went through a few more canopied pathways, sat around in a few grass fields, saw ducks, went around the never ending maze of trees. We finally came across the flowers I had seen earlier. They were beautiful yellow, orange and reds as if someone had planted a sunset in the ground. From what I could see, we were exactly behind the palace. We had to climb a steep slope to reach up to a vast field. A small path was wound through the field for about a kilometre until it reached a huge building which looked like another castle. Since it was getting late, we decided to move ahead.
Just out of the palace gates, we were dumbstruck. It feels really grand to even describe this. We saw a man coloured in gold paint, standing in front of the palace, pretending to be Mozart. He was posing for pictures with the tourists. We decided to go and take a picture with him too. He recognised us to be Indians and greeted us with ‘Namastey’.
After we had clicked a picture with him, he told us that he had had played a part in the famous Bollywood movie, ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’, part of which had been shot in Austria. As we made our way to the bus stop, he started belting out the lyrics to ‘Bulleya’ from “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’.
We got onto the next Big Bus and contemplated where we should get off next. We decided to visit only one more place before going back to the hotel, since we had spent a lot of time in Schonbrun Palace. We narrowed down two options, the Army Museum or Belvedere Castle and Botanical Gardens. We chose Belvedere. We reached there around the time when the sun was just beginning to set. We stopped at a cafe to have a cup of tea before proceeding. The tea that we got here was not brewed; we just got hot water, teabags, sugar and milk for us to mix together. It was not very good. We were rather used to Earl Grey tea during travel, which is not suitable for mixing with milk and sugar. But I had it anyway because if I didn’t, my head would start to ache. I also ordered a slice of Sacher Torte as it was mother’s day and I wanted to get something for mumma. This was the best I could do, for the time being.
We then went to Belvedere castle just in front of the cafe. The guard informed that the botanical gardens were closed for the day, but we could roam around the main garden area for some time. There were many chairs and a presentation board before the castle; so we guessed that some event was going to take place soon. There was a big pond in the garden, with a huge lawn full of grass surrounding it. A path went around the entire length of the lawn, on the other side of which there were more trees. We walked all around the path. The sun had set a bit more. Soft breeze wound through the trees and my hair and went on to continue its journey to nowhere. We sat down on a nearby bench and enjoyed the pleasant weather as the soft yellow rays of the setting sun reflected on the water.
At last, when it was time for the final bus of the day to arrive at Belvedere castle, we left. Our last stop was in front of Sacher hotel. We went up to our room and just relaxed. I ate a few of the sweets given to us by the hotel and talked to a few of my friends in India. It was really late in India but since summer holidays were going on, almost no one was asleep. We went to the balcony and watched the sun finally set. Even though the sun was almost out of view, a weak light still fell on the buildings. The city skyline looked magnificent. Seriously, this is my favourite city after Mumbai, of course.
We sat and lazed around for some more time, before it was time for dinner. We went to a place I had seen earlier, it served Lebanese food and had shawarma. It was quite different from shawarma’s that I have in Mumbai but still it was good in its own way. The only thing I didn’t like was that the chicken and vegetables were stuffed on different sides so when I finished the chicken, I had only vegetables to eat !
We roamed around in the shopping street next to the hotel. It eventually led to the city center. Almost all the shops and restaurants were closed by now. Almost all the restaurants had tables and chairs set outside and since they did not have anywhere to store them, they chained them to the ground. We came across a church. We walked in there and saw a mass taking place where the preacher was giving a sermon in German. We just stood there and watched. The church was magnificent. It had a beautiful ceiling lit up by lights. As the sermon got over, we headed out along with other tourists who had come in to see the church and the people who had attended the mass.
As we were walking back, I saw a cute shop housing many sweets in the shapes of animals. The cafes and bakeries are a big part of the business in Austria. Cafes are literally everywhere, even in the remotest areas .
Although it was late in the night and all the shops were closed, the street was still full of people. The opera hall had a show that night; a screen was set up in front of the hall to show the performance inside. We headed back to our room and packed our bags, since we would be leaving the next day.
Next stop, Salzkammergut.