After a fair amount of resistance and eye rolling, Hirsh agreed to take a Segway tour of the city. Sarah had done this once, years before, in Washington DC and has talked about it fondly ever since. It looks goofy but it's really lots of fun! We had a great guide, Max, who took us to all the major sights and provided witty history lessons along the way. Our group also consisted of two young professional women from London and a mother and her teenage daughter from Tel Aviv. An unexpected highlight of the three hour tour was stopping to have coffee with all of them and discussing world affairs. One of the best things about traveling is meeting other people from other places and realizing how similar we all are. Max told us how the fabric of the Viennese culture is quickly changing due to overwhelming immigration, the Brits expressed their disappointment in but understanding of Brexit, and the Israelis asked us about our presidential election, of course.
We chose the right day to do the Segway tour because the weather was beautiful and because just about everything is closed on Sunday in Vienna. The restaurants and some cheesy tourist trinket shops are open, but not much else. We had lunch at Trzesniewski, a well known casual restaurant famous for its gourmet finger sandwiches. A Rick Steves recommendation, too! We know you're all shocked by this.
Then we took a nap in the grass of this gorgeous rose garden, one of our favorite spots in the city. Don't worry, everyone does it.
And a little more walking around/looking around...
We also took a guided tour of the famous Vienna Opera House. It wasn't really high on our list, but it was something to fill the time when nearly everything else was closed. The big surprise was how fascinating it was. The tour is offered every hour in multiple languages, and our group was so big that it had to be divided in two. That tells you how popular this tour is! We learned about the staff of 300+ who work at the opera house to manage the business and assemble and dismantle the sets. During the season, they don't repeat any one show on consecutive nights. This means they are breaking down and setting up entire sets every single day, and they start early enough in the morning to leave time for dress rehearsal from 10am-2pm. It's quite a production.
Here's a picture of Hirsh backstage
And a picture of a picture of the annual Viennese debutante ball. There's a very involved application process to be presented here, including proving you can dance the Viennese Waltz with the unconventional left turn. And you thought Carolina Country Club was fancy!
Our Segway guide, Max, had pointed out some of his favorite eateries during the tour. One of these is a restaurant called Figlmüller, serving what he said was the best Wiener schnitzel. We had wanted to try schnitzel but until now had always been distracted by more obviously delicious things, like French crepes. As this was our last night in Vienna, it was our only chance. We called early in the evening to make a reservation, but they said they were fully booked and quickly hung up on us. Feeling hangry and determined, we decided to try another method. We got to the restaurant and through Sarah's...we'll call it charm and ingenuity...managed to snag the last table of the night. The deliciousness of the schnitzel and potato salad helped assuage our guilt.
Believe it or not, this picture was taken before Hirsh took a single sip of wine. True story.
Then there was more gelato at Zanoni & Zanoni, conveniently located just next door.
And drinks at the fancy Do & Co bar overlooking the impressive St. Stephens cathedral.