Another day, another palace… this time we visited the Belvedere Palace (and adjacent Christmas market!). Again, if you like you can buy entrance into the palace and stables (and museum inside) but to walk around the outside and gardens is free, and there is a good view of Austria from behind the palace. Nearby is also the Military History Museum (or to give it’s more catchier Austrian name, the Heeresgeschichtliches), which we spent several hours at. Admittedly history has never been my favourite subject, but if we go by the history geek Husband’s reviews, this was one of the highlights of the city! It was certainly comprehensive, running from the 16th Century to beyond the Second World War, with a wealth of uniforms, paintings, weapons, and models on display, and even a hot air balloon captured from the French in 1796! Another of the more striking instalments is the car and uniform the emperor Franz Joseph was shot in. There’s plenty of information on display, as well as recorded voice guides, and for those a little more history repelling like me, the interior and exterior architecture is stunning and reason enough to visit.
An alternative plan for this day had been to take a train ride into the mountains to Semmering, on the first trans-alpine railway. Frustratingly, this was incredibly hard to get good advice on, even from enquiring with tourist advice centres and friendly locals, and we heard mixed reports from it being “ugly” to “stunning” to “closed”! Eventually we gave up, but my one regret of our trip is not having spent any time in the surrounding countryside. This is apparently easier to do in the Summer, when visits to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Wachau Valley are also possible. I would recommend carrying out some thorough pre-trip research if this is something you are considering!
That evening we had an early dinner at the very high-demand Figlmüeller restaurant, or “the home of schnitzel”. Customers were constantly turned away from here, so if you plan a visit be sure to book in advance, or go outside of regular mealtimes. Beautiful wooden interior accompanied our traditional dinner, and the schnitzel was tasty, if slightly dry and very oversized in portion! A side helping of potatoes didn’t help the portion size – but was delicious.
Top: Schnitzel at Figlmüeller. Above: Belvedere and gardens, the Military History Museum and contents.