Saturday, December 28, 2019

Vienna, Austria: Schonbrunn Palace and Radisson Blu

     *Landing in Europe, Day 1 in Paris
*Vienna, Austria Part 1
The following are beauty posts inspired from my visit to Vienna, Austria:


We drove 4 and a half hours from Riquewihr, France to Munich, Germany to spend the night. It was the perfect halfway point between Riquewihr and Vienna. Embarrassingly, I will admit, after hearing all the stories my Grandma shared about the horrors the Nazis put her and her family through, I never ever ever wanted to go to Germany, I held a grudge. So when arriving to Munich, I did not want to go out to see the historical places and beer gardens of Oktoberfest. We stayed only 2 miles from the Hofbräuhaus! I am so mad I didn't listen to Brian and eat dinner here. Sorry babe, you were right. Our room at Holiday Inn Munich East was very nice; new, clean and modern. It was great for families, they had board games to lend as well as coloring pages and crayons and games. However, they do not offer a free breakfast-but the Holiday Inn Express does and it is in the same building, just other side. We just stayed in, went to sleep and got on the road in the morning. I regret not sightseeing. We could have had dinner in some amazing places! Later on the trip I came to love how beautiful Germany was and wished we had more time in our itinerary to explore more. Traveling opened my eyes to my own obstructed view of a whole country. Germany is now one of my favorite countries! I just love Europe and how 'old' everything is, how historical everything is!  Side note, when driving in Germany with children who can read, prepare them for the gigantic "ausfahrt" signs at every exit. This joke never got old, for the kids.

     The next morning we drove another 4 and a half hours to Vienna, Austria, arriving in the afternoon. I have high status with the Radisson Rewards program and had points for free nights stay in a 700 euro a night suite at the Radisson Blu Park Royal Palace Hotel. We were warmly welcomed with English speaking staff. At the elevators, there was an incredible, large stunning picture of a man on a stallion. It "struck my fancy" and I decided right there that I needed to have a photo like this. So if you own a stallion, message me!

In our modern suite, we were surprised with a dessert tray of macarons, a nice welcome note from the General Manager and a stocked mini fridge full of juices, sodas, beer and snacks.  The suite had an amazing bathroom with great toiletries! This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray was our secret potion for the whole trip! Little spray bottles of this was left near the bed. It was sleep magic spray. The kids would ask us to spray there pillow if we ever forgot at bedtime, and they always went right to sleep. I believed this was a placebo effect until I got back to the states and started using it for myself!! This stuff is hoarded at our house. The nice, tall bath tub had soaking bath salts provided. Briella said the tub was so big, she could fit 10 friends in it haha. Behind the tub was a half wall and on the other side of the wall was a shower half the size of the entire bathroom! They provided larger than normal, travel size This Works shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.  The large walk through cedar closet was impressive, rivaling the Sheraton in Rome. The separate living space had a leather sofa(bed),  Nespresso Machine, comfy lounge chair and desk. There was two pocket doors that could shut the bedroom off from the living room. It also had a full glass wall that opened completely up to a large terrace overlooking the beautiful on-property park that had the most fragrant trees. In the distance we could see the Schonbrunn Palace, one of Europe's most impressive Baroque palaces. When the doors to the terrace were open, the air conditioning wouldn't run. I found that common in Europe (also in French Polynesia) and I think it is a great green initiative! Another green initiative common in Europe is that the lights will only come on when you put your hotel key card in a slot on the wall. That way when you leave, no energy is used. This was a menace for us hot blooded Americans that are used to air conditioning! When it was too hot in the room for us, we would leave a business card, or extra room key in the slot. A credit card will also work in a pinch. The staff had left a Pack n Play in the room, and Briella actually fit in it. We told her it was a VIP bed for her, she just loved having her own space. I was glad the girls would have their own sleeping areas because most of the trip they would be sharing beds.



     After getting our bags into the room, we ate in the Executive Lounge at the hotel. I find the lounges with food and drink access work well for our family. The amount spent out on drinks and food while on vacation adds up quick and is often more expensive than the actual travel expenses. We visit the lounge often stocking up on drinks and snacks and we try to eat as many meals in the lounge as our schedule allows. This was an amazing lounge! I was very happily surprised. We travel at Intercontinental Hotels often and use their executive lounges and are completely happy. They are our favorite lounge in the US. But this Radisson Blu lounge was high end gourmet. We had a salad bar buffet style area with many food options. There was a refrigerator stocked with different types of sandwiches and yogurts. They had a fancy coffee machine, which we found common at most of our European nicer hotels. There was also a beverage center with all kinds of juices and drinks that we don't have in the US, so that was fun to experiment with. Briella LOVED the marinated skin-on salmon fillets and these mini yogurt drinks. It was her first time eating seafood and I was proud of her willingness to try new things. There is a song on the cartoon Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood that goes "try new things because they might taste good." We used the song as a theme every time we sat down to eat in Europe. It worked for us! Aubrey is a basic picky eater. Pizza and chicken nuggets are her jam. A summer in Europe was sure to be a challenge for her eating! We chose to eat our breakfasts in the actual restaurant, opposed to the lounge, as it was free with our Radisson status. I was shocked to find baked beans, at breakfast! This became typical of our Austria, Switzerland and Germany hotels. The Radisson Blu in Vienna has the best scrambled eggs, I said it. Those fluffy mofos were so light and delicious!
Their eggs in the black dish!
They seriously looked like a different dish than our scrambled eggs in the US.  They are followed by a close second at the Hampton Inn at Jacksonville Beach. Both girls enjoyed their share of bacon that they covered in Nutella (like any proper American visiting Europe) along with pastries and fresh juices. I also started eating muesli in Vienna for the first time, and continued throughout Europe. It's just not quite the same taste here in the states. 

     We walked to the Schonbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site, which was just about a 5 minute walk down the street. Our hotel was the perfect location as there was a sidewalk all the way there. We wondered through the garden maze and then around the Baroque park. We enjoyed strolling along the long, tree-filled paths. We walked up a hill to see the Gloriette. It was stunning and an instant instagram-worthy background. It overlooked the Privy Garden (Kronprinzengarten) which holds a collection of expensive and rare flora from the Citrus Collection of the Federal Gardens. Just beautiful. This rivals the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris. Some of my favorite photos of the girls from the whole trip were taken here! There was also a pretty amazing fountain/statue of Neptune here! We walked up into the statue and was able to stand beneath Neptune, overlooking the fountain and the palace. Guys, this statue was erected (I had to, naked male sculpture, haha) the same year the US became its own country! There is also the world's oldest zoo (1752) on the property, but we ran out of time in Vienna and have to add it to our list for next time.



That's only the Gloriette in the background, not the palace. This place was gorgeous.
Brian and the girls under Neptune


     Touring the palace we learned so many interesting historical stories. The palace was built in 1740 and was the home of many emperors. More recently, in the 1850s Austria and Hungary's beloved Sisi, Empress of Austria and her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph, called Schonbrunn home. Fun fact, they were first cousins. (Aubrey has an ongoing joke that an old boyfriend of hers was her 5th cousin. Her AncestryDNA test had a distant match for someone with the same last name as her ex, so everyone gives her a hard time about dating her cousin.)  Franz Joseph's mother, Princess Sophie of Bavaria, said she would rather have a niece as a daughter in law rather than a stranger and arranged the marriage when Sisi was 15. She was tall and gorgeous. She was known for her natural beauty and became obsessed with preserving it. She loved face creams and known for her collection of facial lotions and tonics. She slept with a leather face mask lined of either raw veal or crushed strawberries. Sisi slept with cloths soaked with violet or cider-vinegar above her hips to preserve her slim waist; her neck was wrapped with cloths soaked in Kummerfeld-toned washing water. To further preserve her skin she took a cold bath every morning and soaked in an olive oil bath every night. After age 32 she refused to be photographed to preserve her public image of eternal beauty. Sisi's daily hair routine took 3 hours and she had her own stylist. Her hair was long and heavy and washed every two weeks with cognac and eggs. I am tempted to try this! Long story short, Sisi was murdered tragically and I imagine it was similar to how we feel about Princess Diana. She became more loved in her death. I have become fascinated with Sisi and have wrote a couple more posts about her impressive beauty routines!

     Another favorite, (wait, truly every thing we did in Vienna was amazing. This city is a must for families.) was our visit to the Schonbrunn Palace Children's Museum. The children's museum was created to keep the kids active and entertained while learning about the past. Each room had a different theme. The girls dressed in 1800s clothing and posed for pictures inside the Grosser Kaiserhof.  Aubrey may have been forced to do many of these activities as it was geared more towards the younger crowd. There were many play areas that had wooden toys like the ones from the 1800s that the kids in the palace would have played with. There was an entire dining room with all children's sized furniture and full place settings for them to play with, including all the foods typically ate in that time period. I think that was my favorite room. The children's bedrooms were insanely amazing. I cannot believe the quality and design of the furniture they had on display. Everyone talks about Versailles, this is the same quality yet under-visited! One of the rooms showed how they kept personal hygiene and hairstyles, not just showing you but had the items out to play with in an actual rooms set up. The girls were able to style wigs and add pretty accessories however they pleased. Every room had stations for the kids to participate and learn about the lives of imperial children without even knowing they were learning and not just playing. Perfect for our 5 year old! The last room has a slide that takes you outdoors to the garden to exit! So Royal! What are your thoughts on the picture of the children's room?! Impressive, right?



The children's room!






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