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After a lot of stress eating and sleepless nights, let’s all just step away from politics for a bit, calm down, and talk about something a bit lighter.
Rewind back to last year. We had just arrived, starry-eyed, in storybook romantic Austria and were exploring the famous Schönbrunn Palace. And in this palace lived the beautiful Austrian Empress “Si Si” who was known throughout the land to have the longest, most luscious hair, who wore fancy dresses that people would gossip about, and spent her days reciting poetry, singing, and laughing. And then she was stabbed in the heart by an assassin.
OK that came out wrong.
Okay, let me back up a bit. We first heard about “Si Si” in Vienna which city-wise is kind of like a mash up between Versailles and Prague. Without the murderous peacocks, of course.
At first I thought she was some sort of 1800’s Kim Kardashian, but as it turns out, her story is WAY more interesting.
Now, imagine you were born rich (no idea what that’s like, so I’m going to improvise), and you spent most of your time living in a castle and frolicking in the Bavarian countryside. Your father and mother are basically the hippies of the 1800’s, and liked running off and ditching their own duties. So you, naturally, follow suit by skipping your boring lessons to go horse back riding, and do whatever your little Princess heart decided.
But of course, the life of royalty never stays innocent for long, and when she turned 15, her creepy 23-year-old cousin, Franz Joseph, saw her and decided to realize his life-long dream of becoming a pedophile. Boom. Incest-Marriage.
And of course, because the power structure of a monarchy is all based around who’s married to whom, and who puts his ding-dong in who’s hoo-ha, this marriage quickly devolved. Soon after the nuptials were finalized, she was informed by her mother-in-law that her only purpose was to bear her son a male heir. After which, she would be considered useless and disposed of.
Oh, and by the way, if she were to fail at delivering said male heir, she would be considered useless and disposed of.
Yeesh. And we thought elections were rough.
She eventually did have a child, but alas it was but a worthless daughter who’s immediately stolen from her. Evidently the pressure of feeling that axe slowly position above her bejewelled head started to get to her, and when asked about what she wanted for her birthday, she replied:
“A young tiger and a medallion, but a fully equipped lunatic asylum would please me most”.
But that was actually the honeymoon period of Si Si’s life, until her daughter died from typhus, and her son killed his mistress before killing himself, and she was assassinated by a dude on a random street corner, who just wanted to kill a monarch.
When Franz Joseph was told about her death, he initially freaked out thinking she’d committed suicide. But later calmed himself, relieved that it was only murder.
So, if however deeply flawed and convoluted democracy is, just know, it can be SO MUCH worse.
And THAT was our intro to Vienna.
As we walked around, admiring the manicured gardens, and marble statues, the theme of the city seemed to be “opulence.”
We only spent a few days in Vienna, but we spent our time touring all its opulent castles and sprawling manicured gardens, broken up with frequent visits to cafes where we would indulge in fancy Italian coffees and “Sachertorte”, the finest chocolate cake we’ve ever tasted and a Vienna specialty.
Needless to say, I left feeling like an Empress! Except, you know, without the forced incest, deaths, and assassinations. Boy, am I glad I’m not a woman living in the 1800’s.
|Accommodations||$64||Fantastic deal for Vienna. Thank you, AirBnB! If you're interested in trying it out, click here for a $40 credit".|
|Food||$40||The thing I mostly remember about Vienna is the opulence. But luckily, if you stick to cooking and just go out for coffee and cake, you won’t break the bank. Vienna had some of the nicest coffee shops and desserts.|
|Attractions||$0||Vienna had so many free parks and gardens, we didn’t spend any money on attractions. Even the castle, which had an entrance fee, could mostly be enjoyed for free by walking around the massive garden and fountains.|
|Transportation||$26.50||Transportation with Vienna was relatively cheap and we found a bus going to Hungary for $25 each. Spreading out the cost over 4 days, that's only $26.50/day|
|Total:||$130.50||Nice! For such an opulent city, Vienna was surprisingly inexpensive. I’d say it was actually similar to how much we spent on Boston, given that we found a cheap AirBnB and the parks and castle grounds were free.|
Rating: 4/5 Opulent Castles
Overall, we quite enjoyed Vienna. The city was pretty, full of interesting stories, and surprisingly inexpensive for so much opulence. If you’re into fancy gardens and marble statues, this is your place.
Next post in this series: “Budapest: Spas and communism. A winning combination!“
Come meet us at this year's Chautauqua UK! Details here