Thursday, April 24, 2014

Europe 2012 day 14: Vienna, Austria

It's been 1.5 years in the making - but the finale of our Europe trip! Our last day (Sept. 16, 2012) was all about Schönbrunn Palace, St. Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom), and the famous Vienna Opera House.

Schönbrunn Palace
We got up to make it to the Schönbrunn Palace as Rick Steves said the lines can get really long - andddd I was the first one in line.  Nick got this great picture of me waiting along with my Rick Steves book and the janitor.

First in line at the Schönbrunn Palace
We got our tickets and our audioguide tour (no pictures allowed) was pretty good - Schonbrunn is similar to Versailles and was the "summer home" of the Habsburgs. The interior tour took us through 40 of the 1,441 (!) rooms, including the audience waiting rooms, the main office, bedrooms, etc.
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Panorama Schönbrunn Palace and gardens

After the tour, we headed outside to tour the AMAZING gardens.  Much like Versailles, the gardens are full of sights and long pathways and go on and on. We climbed the hill to the Gloriette behind the palace for a nice view, and made sure to see Neptune's fountain, the Obelisk, the Roman Ruins (built in the 1700s as something to look at), the japanese garden and the Palm house (big greenhouse with palm trees inside). It was such a perfect day, we loved just walking around and enjoying the lovely gardens.  I went a little picture happy, needless to say...

Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens
Schönbrunn Palace and gardens

Afterwards, we caught the subway back to the city center. Grabbing lunch at Graben, we headed in to St. Stephens to do the audio tour there. We skipped climbing the towers and the catacombs, but we paid the nominal fee to be able to walk into the central area of the nave and up to the front, a really lovely cathedral.
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral

Next up was a bit of café time. Vienna is known for its cafes and we didn't want to miss hitting one up. We chose Café Bräunerhof, near the Dorotheum (auction house). We ordered iced coffees and enjoyed the afternoon sun.



After the café, we wandered around the city a bit more, eating (as always) and then made our way back to the Opera to try for tickets one more time. We bought standing room tickets for Romeo and Juliet (a ballet, not an opera, but oh well) for only 3 euros (about $5).

We found our way up to our third floor balcony, and despite the host of reserved standing slots, we had no problem finding a decent spot. Our view of the stage was slightly obstructed, but that's what you get for 3 euro, and we had a nice view of the orchestra pit that we wouldn't have had if we had paid full price and dressed up for floor seats.

Vienna Opera House
Vienna Opera House
Vienna Opera House

We only stayed until intermission - it was a great show, but we just went to experience it, not necessarily to watch three hours of a ballet, but I do love the ballet.  We both really enjoyed this and agreed it was a highlight of the trip, and was a great way to wrap things up.

Vienna Opera House

We headed back to our hotel, packed out suitcases and woke up bright and early the next morning for our trip back home to Seattle!  It was such a wonderful and beautiful trip, and I'm always so happy to travel the world with my favorite travel buddy!

Another great trip and lots of memories made

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Packing light tips

I have one more day in my Europe 2012 post, but I've been talking to a lot of friends about packing light and wanted to do a post about that.

packing light is fun!

It might come as a surprise to people - but for busy travel where we are moving around a lot, I do carry on luggage only.  That has included a Europe trip and our most recent three-week Asia trip.

However, I do think there are some trips that are perfectly fine for checking luggage, especially when you are staying in one place for a long amount of time or can share a large checked bag with your travel partner.  But the packing light tips below will still be applicable - less weight for your rolling luggage and more room for travel souvenirs on your way home.

I take a lot of thought into packing to make the most of my luggage space and here are some of my best tips:


  • I always use packing cubes, roll up your clothes for maximum space and they are less likely to wrinkle
  • The hardest part for doing a carry-on only is the liquid rule.  To make for a little more space, I bring face wipes instead of liquid face wash.  More room for other important liquids.
  • My friend Hitha runs a great blog that focuses on packing and she gave me a great tip about the 3 shoes rule.  No more than 3 pairs of shoes - ever.  She has a lot of great tips that have helped me over the years!
  • Plan out your packing in advance so you aren't throwing things in your suitcase last minute and over packing. There are a lot of good packing checklists on the internet that can help you out too.
  • I try not to pack "outfits," but pieces that will mix and match well.  A good pair of black pants like my favorite J.Crew ones will pair with a lot of tops and work for day sightseeing or a nice dinner
  • And always remember, most places you are travelling to - you can buy what you need there if you forget it
  • Shop the travel size section for products, I've noticed in recently years more brands are going with smaller packaging for travel


Hope these tips help and inspire some of your to pack a few pounds lighter on your next trip.  As Rick Steves says, keep on travelling!

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