A Tale of Two Palaces: Schönbrunn and Hofburg

Another Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous day. I’m sure it will get boring soon. Right.

After breakfast I had the morning to myself so I made a plan to go to the Albertina Museum to see the Van Gogh exhibit. However, when I walked over the line up was about 200 people deep. I only had about an hour and a half before I was to meet Markus so I scrapped that plan.

But oh did I find a little piece of Hillary heaven instead. The Grand Hotel where we are staying is on The Ringstrasse in the heart of Vienna, so everything is walking distance. I strolled around a bit and stumbled onto the Doroteum Auction House. Three floors of art, jewellery, furniture, silver, sculptures, glass ware, ceramics and jewellery. Did I mention the jewellery? All of it either for direct sale or for auction. The Doroteum was established in 1707, so a little more than 300 years ago. A beautiful setting for ogling the goods.

The furniture and art was mostly from the 19th and 20th Centuries. I’m about as far as it gets from an art aficionado, so the only artist I recognized right away was Andy Warhol. I always find looking at modern art an interesting experience for me. I teeter precariously close to the edge of the general masses who “Don’t get modern art.” (Sorry Andy…kind of like the Jazz thing.) For example, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of canvases which were simply painted one color…i.e. completely blank…being listed for several thousand Euros. Hmmm.

But then I pass something that really catches my eye and tugs on my emotions. There was a series by a German painter, Imi Knoebel, that I kept coming back to. I didn’t write down the name of the piece, but I call it Construction Paper on Bristol Board. Because it basically was a large monotone canvas with a smaller blank canvas of a different colour stuck onto it. The colours were bright and interestingly contrasted and, for some reason I can’t explain, intrigued me.

I also was quite fascinated by the modern art furniture. Not to actually use of course, (it looked terribly uncomfortable) but an interesting focus point for a room, I’m sure.

Anyway, it was a delightful 90 minutes and I have decided that for my 40th I’m going to ask Markus to take me there to pick out a lovely necklace. Because I’m worth it, right?

I met Markus to attend the lunch at the Hofburg Imperial Palace where the Relais & Chateaux conference is being held.

Here is a bit of history about the Hofburg:

The Imperial Palace, which until 1918 was inhabited by the imperial family, was originally a castle built in the thirteenth century, which was extended to a splendid residence in accordance with the increasing power of the Habsburgs and the expansion of their realm.

Today, the Imperial Palace houses the office of the President of Austria as well as an important congress center and numerous art collections.

Here are some shots I took yesterday:

Hofburg Imperial Palace

Hofburg Imperial Palace

Some of the gardens around the Palace

Some of the gardens around the Palace

The Hofburg certainly is spectacular and houses libraries, museums, offices and several meeting and conference areas. Each room is incredible and brings to mind the opulence of the empire. For example, here is the room where we had lunch (with a close-up of the chandeliers.)

Just the little lunch room

Just the little lunch room

Sure beats track lighting

Sure beats track lighting

After lunch and a quick change at the hotel, we piled onto buses that took us to the Schönbrunn Palace. Markus and I have been there before, but it certainly is worth seeing again.

Markus and I at the Schönbrunn

Markus and I at the Schönbrunn

Ariel shot from wikipedia

Aerial shot from wikipedia

We had a private tour of the public rooms and learned a bit more about the history. There are over 1400 rooms at the Palace, with only a handful open to the public. The two most well known rulers who lived there are Maria Theresa (with her 16 children, including Marie Antoinette) and Franz Joseph I, almost the last Emperor of Austria who died in 1916, 2 years before the throne was abdicated. Franz Joseph certainly had a lot less fun than the Tudors (if the television series has any basis in reality). He worked up to 14 hours a day and lived in relatively spare quarters with one of the smallest beds I’ve seen.

The tour was interesting and then they opened up the ballroom to us for a cocktail party. I didn’t get a great shot, but you get the idea.

Ballroom at the Schönbrunn

Ballroom at the Schönbrunn

Following the cocktail party we were taken by buses to mystery destinations for dinner. Our bus went 45 minutes out of town to Restaurant Taubenkobel, about 10 km west of Hungary. The Chef has 2 Michelin stars and the menu was certainly well prepared. As I am not the world’s most adventurous eater, I enjoyed some of the dishes very much (marinated rainbow rout with mango and fennel) and others less (goder of pork…that is the throat and the texture just put me off.) It is too bad we arrived at night, as the property is on a lake, which I’m sure would have been very beautiful.

Overall a long and lovely day.

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