Schonbrunn Easter Market

The downside to having Easter come so early this year is that being out and about at the Easter markets has been somewhat less comfortable and pleasant than in years past.  Our first time, we went in short sleeves and sandals.  Not so this year, where the winter weather has stuck around longer than is typical and Easter came earlier than usual.  All in all, it feels more like visiting the Christmas markets than the Easter ones!

But, we weren’t completely discouraged from attending — just wise . . . or so we thought.  We waited until the last possible day to visit the Schonbrunn Easter market, because we figured it would be the warmest.  We also watched the weather reports which seemed to support our hypothesis.  All week, the weather for today has looked the best of the week — partly sunny with a balmy high of 44.  Compared to what we’ve been getting, that’s nearly like summer.

012Alas, it was not to be.  Yesterday, which dawned cold and rainy, actuallly had a lovely sunny afternoon with highs in the mid-40s.  We missed our chance on that, though.  Today was cloudy, drizzling, and didn’t get out of the mid-30s.  Brr.  But still, we went.  We wanted to visit beautiful Schonbrunn, and we wanted to show Jo the lovely Easter market there.  Unfortunately, the entire population of Vienna appears to have had the same idea — so there were thick crowds of people packed into the market, in spite of the weather.

014Despite the chilly temperatures, we had a really nice time.  Upon our arrival, the kids immediately got caught up in a series of children’s games and acitivities.  In Vienna, you never know — sometimes a “children’s program” is a fairly uninteresting performance or a tiny corner of poorly set up arts and crafts.  And sometimes it’s a comprehensive, compelling collections of games, toys, rides and acitivities that captivates the kids for hours.  We went to the market today with no expectations except for doing some shopping and eating some food.  But the boys had a great time with a maze game with a wooden duck on strings with a ball (it’s not the easiest thing to describe), some 015chicken air hockey (not a real chicken), and a swan race (also, not a real swan).  They also tried out walking on stilts and got to talk to a guy on stilts in a chicken suit, who spoke English (as if walking on stilts in a chicken suit isn’t impressive enough).  It was a good time.

We ate too much food, shopped for handmade cards, hand-painted eggs and too much chocolate and got to practice lots of our German.  Even though it still feels like winter, it was a good day at the Easter market.




Schönbrunn Palace

006So, Schönbrunn Palace.  Wow.  Amazing.  Unbelievable.  Truly on a scale beyond anything I had ever seen before, or even imagined.  I’m not overselling it — those of you who have never seen it will STILL be amazed by it when you see it.  And we didn’t even go inside — this is just my reaction from seeing a part of the gardens.  Opulent, excessive, beautiful, lush and peaceful.  I loved it.  Easily my favorite place in Vienna so far.

011Dan, Benjamin, Liam and I went today, and we had just a wonderful time.  They have an Easter market going on now, which was fun (and made getting lunch easy) and then we explored the grounds and marveled at the exterior of the palace itself.  It just defies explanation to try and convey the scope of this place.  We saw only a small part of what the palace grounds have to offer (we didn’t visit the labyrinth/maze or the zoo, for example) and they aren’t even yet in their full splendor (they’re in the 013process of planting the yellow tulips, but nothing else is in yet).  I just loved it.  We played hide and seek among the trees.  We visited the koi pond (there’s probably more than one).  We saw amazing statues and topiary.  We kept Benjamin out of the fountains (he asked me several times to take his shoes off).  Benjamin just ran and ran.  At one point, I was holding Liam as he gazed up through the trees, and I imagined what the princes and princesses must have experienced when they strolled the 016grounds.  It was so fun and beautiful.  We saw just a little bit of the “wilder” (the less manicured, forest-like) sections, but that part was too hilly for us to explore too deeply with the stroller.  The only downside is that we had to stick to the shade, because (of course) all of our sunscreen is in the air shipment that we can’t get to.  (We’re going to go out and purchase some more tomorrow.)  On the way home, Liam made eyes at an entire family on our tram.  What a great day!

021All that, and it was only about 10 minutes on the tram from our current apartment.  I can imagine that it’s somewhere I may even go with the boys on nice afternoons while Dan is at work.  What an amazing place to be able to visit, just on a whim, whenever we like!  What a treat.  We loved it.  We’ll go back.  Soon.028053