Vivid headgears worn by Minorities @ Sapa Market

Hong Kong

Hong Kong
Mango dessert sold in Hoi Lau San @ Yau Ma Tei


Rare glimpse of Proboscis Monkey @ Bako National Park


A Blue & White (青花) Vase displayed @ Forbidden City

Vienna (part 2)

Day Three

Woke up at about 8 am in the morning and got our breakfast from Ströck bakery at Praterstern Station. We then took the subway to have an introductory meet up with another colleague who was also having training in Vienna. After the short gathering, we took U-bahn to admire Danube River.

Danube River

Reason for visiting Danube River was because of the Chinese Song《爱情多瑙河》that my colleague liked. Of course there is no link of this song lyric to the river.

🛫 Travel Trivia
The most appropriate music to associate with Danube is 'The Blue Danube' 《蓝色多瑙河》 or 'An der schönen blauen Donau' in German. The waltz was composed by an Austrian composer Johann Strauss II in 1866. Though seems old, its tune definitely is familiar by everyone. 'The Blue Danube' is so well-loved by the Austrians that it has become an unofficial Austrian national anthem.

The Danube is a second longest river in Central Europe, flowing pass 10 countries naming Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine, and Romania.

Donauinsel Station

The Donauinsel station is just two stations away from Praterstern Station (left photo below). This station is located on Donauinsel Island, which is a long, narrow island between the Danube River (right photo below) and the parallel excavated channel Neue Donau. To most visitors, the island is known as a recreational area with bars, restaurants and nightclubs. However its main purpose is part of Vienna's highly sophisticated flood protection system.

Several landmarks can be seen from the station, such Copa Cagrana with lighthouse (left photo below) and pontoon bridge (right photo below) across the river. On the other side of the river stood the impressive Saint Francis of Assisi Church (bottom left photo) and the ongoing construction of Vienna Donau City (bottom right photo) which includes Ares Tower and STRABAG Haus.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace, or Schloss Schönbrunn in German, is a former Imperial Summer Residence of Rococo style for Habsburg monarchs in Vienna. The name Schönbrunn means "beautiful spring", has its roots in an artesian well from which water was consumed by the court. This palace has become the most important cultural monuments in the country for over 300 years and has been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna since the mid-1950s.

Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens were listed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 1996.

The palace lies about 6-km from the center of Vienna and the whole area, including the expansive garden, occupies about 176 hectares.

Admission to the Palace

    All visitors will have to enter via the entrance located on the left side of the building (left photo below). Do note that the queue for tickets can be long especially during weekends (right photo below). There are several admission package to the Schönbrunn Palace. We got the combined ticket: Classic Pass at EUR 14.90 which allowed us to visit the Palace, Privy Garden, Gloriette and the Maze.

    As part of the tour experience, every visitor is issued with a portable audio device (left photo below). Upon entering a room, the device (right photo below) will automatically switch to the related audio content.

Palace Courtyard

    A large squarish courtyard formed in front of the main palace building (left photo below). The central palace is 175-meters wide and has a symmetrical Baroque facade. All buildings were painted in a typical light yellow / ocher pattern, a combination that was copied by many residences around the country (right photo below)

    A pair of obelisks (left photo below) stood at the entrance gate of the palace. In the middle of courtyard are two fountains with marble sculptures (right photo below).

Imperial Apartments

    The tour to the imperial apartments will begin in the west wing of the palace, with the apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and his wife, Elisabeth, which are furnished in 19th-century style, and continues through the state rooms in the central wing. From there the tour proceeds to the richly-appointed apartments once occupied by Maria Theresa. The Franz Karl Apartments were occupied by Emperor Franz Joseph's parents, Archduchess Sophie and Archduke Franz Karl.

    Rosa Rooms (left photo below) are named after the artist Joseph Rosa who executed the landscape paintings they contain. The reception room of the empress (right photo below) was redecorated in 1854 in the neo-Rococo style.

    The name of Walnut room (left photo below) derives from the fine walnut paneling of the walls. The gilt decoration and console tables are typical of the Rococo style whose gracious elegance came to full flower in Austria during the epoch of Maria Theresa. The most impressive room we visited was this Great Gallery (right photo below). Measuring over 40-metres by 10-metres, the Great Gallery provided the ideal setting for court functions such as balls, receptions and banquets.

    Study and salon of Franz Karl (photos below) together with the adjoining salon was last occupied by Archduke Franz Karl, the father of Emperor Franz Joseph. After the death of the archduke in 1878 the rooms were refurbished and the decoration and furniture have remained largely unchanged to this day.

After the imperial apartments tour, we proceeded to visit the gardens of Schönbrunn Palace.

Privy Garden

    The Privy Garden, better known as Crown Prince Rudolf Garden, is part of the Meidling Kammergärten which lies immediately in front of the east façade of the palace. The garden got its name around 1870, after the imperial apartments had been furnished for Crown Prince Rudolf on the ground floor of this wing.

    Section of the garden is surrounded by a horseshoe-shaped pergola (left photo below) with five trellis-work pavilions (right photo below). One of the pavilions is accessible to visitors as a viewing point and this was where we walked up the stairs to take the scenic pictures.

    The four sections of the parterre are enclosed by formal beds and centre around an ancient yew tree. At the centre of the tripartite parterre, with its elaborate design based on embroidery patterns, is an octagonal pool (photos below).

Sculptures at Great Parterre

    Placed along the perimeter of Great Parterre are 32 sculptures which represent deities and virtues. Among them are the sculptures of "Brutus holding the dagger in the hand with which Lucretia committed suicide" (left photo below) and sculptures of "Ceres the goddess of the agriculture, the marriage and death and Bacchus, the God of the viticulture and the vegetation" (right photo below).

    At the rear of the palace building is the single storey high viewing area (photos below). We decided to climb up the stairs for a better view and having a group photo with the Great Parterre in the background.

Great Parterre

    The central axis (left photo below) of the palace formed the backbone of the gardens whose symmetry was determined by orthogonal and diagonal axes. Beyond the Great Parterre along the axis are the Neptune Fountain and Gloriette.

    The beds of Great Parterre consisted of formal patterns made with strips of box and colored stones or sand and were known as "broderie" parterres since these formal motifs were mostly taken from embroidery patterns (right photo below). To either side of the parterre were boskets or formal plantings of severely clipped hedges forming passageways, small openings and hidden enclosures.

Neptune Fountain

    The Neptune Fountain (left photo below) is originally designed as the crowning element of the Great Parterre and was conceived as part of the overall design of the gardens and park in the 1770s.

    At the centre is interrupted by a projecting, semi-oval plinth from which rises a rocky landscape peopled with the sea-god Neptune and his entourage (right photo below). To the left of Neptune is a nymph, while on his right kneels the sea-goddess Thetis, entreating Neptune to favour the voyage of her son, Achilles, who has set off to conquer Troy.

    Frolicking at the foot of the grotto are the Tritons, creatures who are half-man and half-fish, and belong to Neptune's entourage (bottom photos). They hold conch shell trumpets with which they can inspire fear in both man and beast, and are restraining the sea-horses who draw Neptune's chariot across the seas.


    The garden axis points towards a 60-metre-high hill, which since 1775 has been crowned by the Gloriette structure. The structure consists of a central section in the form of a triumphal arch, flanked by arcaded wings with lofty semi-circular arches (photos below). The central section, which was glazed during the last year of Maria Theresa's life, is crowned with a mighty imperial eagle perching on a globe and surrounded by trophies.

    The flat roof with its retaining balustrade was being used as a viewing platform by the beginning of the 19th century. The attic below the roof bears the inscription:


    The sculptures (left photo below) at both ends of the Gloriette lateral flight of stairs are detailed with groups of trophies. Even the interior of the structure is decorated exquisitely (right photo below).

    View from the viewing platform was great (photos below) where the Great Parterre and Schönbrunn Palace can be seen.

Schönbrunn Zoo

    Schönbrunn Zoo, also known as Tiergarten Schönbrunn in German, is a zoo located on the grounds of the famous Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna (photos below). Founded as an imperial menagerie in 1752, it is the oldest zoo in the world.

    After 1900 the zoo was extended eastwards as far as the Neptune Fountain, on the site of the former Small Pheasantry, in order to accommodate the animals more appropriately. We didn't visit the zoo as we were on tight schedule.

The Maze

    The Maze at Schönbrunn was laid out between 1698 and 1740. During the 19th century the Maze was gradually abandoned until in 1892 the last remaining hedges were felled. In autumn 1998 a new maze (photos below) extending over 1.715 meters square with a viewing platform at its centre was laid out taking the historical model into account where possible.

We ended our tour to Schönbrunn Palace in the late afternoon.

The nearest U-bahn station is Schönbrunn station on U4 line. As different attractions open at various timing at different season of the year, therefore it is advisable to check its official website for the updated schedule.

Late Lunch

Bought our late lunch (left photo below) from a fast-food restaurant and had it at our colleague's apartment. The Royal Smokey Meal cost EUR 5.99. After which, we took the U-bahn train (right photo below) to the Airport.

Austrian Airlines

After a long wait, we then boarded Austrian Airlines (left photo below) at Vienna Airport. Even more disappointed than our flight to Vienna, we were served only with salad and a weird-taste biscuit (right photo below) during our flight back to Zürich. As expected I got hungry again even before the flight landed.

Took train from Zürich Airport and reached Neuchâtel at 2135 hrs. With this, we ended our short weekend trip to Vienna.

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