Waltzing Around Vienna

Some of Vienna's greatest attractions are just outside the city proper. Chief among them, especially for royal history geeks like me, is Schonbrunn Palace, the former summer home of the Hapsburgs. The poor man's version of Versailles (it's only one-sixth the size of its French rival, but it still has 1,441 rooms), Schonbrunn was used by generations of Austrian emperors between the 17th and 20th centuries. We walked through 40 of the state rooms where Maria Teresa held court, one of which was where Kennedy and Kruschev met in 1961. Awesome.

We also took a tour of the Heilingenkreuz monastery that lies 30 minutes out of Vienna. Dating from the 12th century, Heilingenkreuz is the oldest continuously occupied Cistercian monastery in the world — 40 monks still live there today. We saw the cloisters, the cathedral, and the chapter house containing the tomb of the last Babenberg emperor. I'm not usually big on church tours, but this one was actually quite fascinating.

Other highlights of the day included a photo stop at Liechtenstein Castle (which is not actually in Liechtenstein, but is owned by the ruling family of Liechtenstein) and a drive-by view of the hunting lodge at Mayerling where Crown Prince Rudolf and his very young mistress were found dead in 1889. Good stuff.

One day left…