Let’s Go Exploring! Vienna: Apparently Being a Princess Sucks

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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.”

Photo credit: Steve Collis @ wikipedia


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.

CategoryCost/couple/day (CAD) Thoughts
Accommodations $64Fantastic deal for Vienna. Thank you, AirBnB! If you're interested in trying it out, click here for a $40 credit".
Food$40The 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 $0Vienna 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 $26.50Transportation 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: $130.50Nice! 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!

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22 thoughts on “Let’s Go Exploring! Vienna: Apparently Being a Princess Sucks”

  1. You’re actually in the neighborhood. Let me know if you’re in Budapest, and would like to grab a cup of coffee 🙂

    1. Would I go back to Vienna? Probably not. As much as I liked the city, I think 4 days was plenty. It’s a great city but there are other cities on my list I’d like to explore more.

  2. Will you still travel … if you have children …. in Primary school?
    Local schools are sometimes available overseas like in Germany …. but then the kids would need to learn German etc etc etc …. would you do home schooling as an option … or resettle somewhere back in Canada for 12 years plus as your kids go to school? I am curious as to your ideas on this …. Presently our 7 year old is going through the Beijing school system – Free! … versus the mega expensive international schools … I teach her English on the side …. but am considering Europe …. Germany … Austria … but there would be obstacles … if I liquidate my assets … I could do this anywhere in the world …. but I am hesitating for now …. God Bless, Beijing, A Canadian in China 🙂 (P.S. We just spent a month in Europe … Alps area too … this summer including Salzburg and Vienna … very nice! )

    1. “A Canadian in China” Nice!

      If we have kids, international schools and homeschooling are both good options. I’m talking to other parents who have kids in international schools or are home-schooling to learn as much as I can. I think it will also depend on the temperament of the kid.

      By going to school in Beijing, I think your kiddo will have a huge advantage now, given that they speak English and Mandarin…the 2 most spoken languages in the world 🙂

  3. Looks awesome (as usual for your travel posts). I’m struggling to choose whether we should treat Vienna as quick stopover en route to Budapest or Prague, or spend a week there to relax (possibly eliminating Budapest). It looks beautiful but all those European capitals around there look beautiful! 🙂

    1. I vote for Vienna as a quick stopover. As much as I enjoyed Vienna, I think Budapest and Prague has more character and more to explore.

      1. Cool. After checking my spreadsheet I realized I’ve already programmed in a short-ish 4 day stay in Vienna and have a full week each in Prague and Budapest. Looking forward to it!

  4. Hey Fire, I’ve been listening to Dan Ariely’s “Predictably Irrational” audiobook and one part reminded me of you because you always bring up your math skills and the fact that you’re a woman.

    There’s an experiment mentioned in the book about stereotypes, here’s the gist of it:
    Asians stereotypically good at math, women stereotypically worse at math. Asian women were asked to take a math exam. Half were asked questions (“primed”) about being a woman first, and they did worse on the test. Half were asked questions about being Asian first, and they did better on the test.

    In other words, reminding people of their traits that have stereotypical notions attached to them has real effects on their performance! 😛

    Thoughts, Fire?

    1. That’s an interesting experiment. I think confidence plays a HUGE factor in determining how well we do. But that being said, I don’t think a math exam is a good way to gauge math skills. If you put people on the spot there’s a distinct possibility they’ll be stressed and do poorly, versus if they were in the comfort of their own home, doing their own taxes/accounting. So I’m not sure if that test really tells us anything.

  5. Hello, do you guys plan everything ahead of time or improvise? Im wondering if it is possible to keep costs low when not booking ahead.

    1. It would actually be impossible to plan EVERYTHING a head of time. (sometimes the train schedule takes a LONG time to come out, sometimes we haven’t decided which country to go to, and sometimes we switch plans after hearing about a place we didn’t consider but our airBnB host RAVES about).

      We generally try to plan 2 weeks ahead to buy train tickets, planet tickets, book AirBnB etc.

      That being said, if you can’t plan ahead, the best way to keep costs low is to be flexible! If you’re open to different cities, you can take advantage of last minute deals. If you’re open to bus, train, and flights, you can end up with a good bus deal if flights are overpriced.

      The key is flexibility. That’s how you keep costs low, even if you can’t plan ahead.

  6. Vienna was one of our favorites, and Schönbrunn was incredible. Did you get to check out the mazes there? And pretzels?

    We were in the city for Eurovision, which was pretty fun, too. And the weinerlinen is maybe the most efficient rail system ever. So much to like. Glad you had fun! Great photos, as always.

    1. Maze? Pretzels? Wow, guess we missed that. I didn’t know Vienna was known for pretzels?

      Their chocolate cake was exquisite though. Mmmm…yummy!

  7. Uhhh… I know you were just trying to be dramatic but cousins marrying is not incest. It’s actually super common throughout history (and not just among royalty). Check out the article on waitbutwhy.com about geneology. Super interesting.

    23 yr old and 15 year old may be illegal today but at least it was only an 8 year gap which is pretty normal. Not that the life of a royal is normal mind you.

    The stabbed in the heart part though… that’s messed up. 😉

  8. I followed you thru all your trips. You live your life to the fullest and fun. This summer I am planning for my first trip to Europe, visiting Budapest, Prague, and Vienne. I will fly from San Francisco please help me to identify which of the following stops make more sense to you.


    1. If the price is the same, I don’t really see a big difference since you get to visit all 3 places either way. Personally, I would spend more time in Budapest than Vienna, but that’s my preference. So it’s really up to you.

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