After our fun-filled Day 1 exploring Vienna, we woke up bright and early for a Vienna Woods & Mayerling half-day trip. I booked the tour through Viator.com, one of my favorite websites to use for booking day trips. We were picked up from our hostel at 9:00 am, met up with the rest of the group, and set out on a four hour tour.
The tour description includes a drive through the Roman City of Baden, famous for its thermal springs. I was still battling jet lag and fell asleep on the bus ride (oops!), so I missed it. As we got closer to the Mayerling hunting lodge, the scenery turned to hills, forests and streams. This was the beginning of two songs being sung by Ariel and myself… “the hills are alive with the sound of music…” and “Ooooooh, and Austrian went walking on a hillside one day…” haha
Our first main stop was to the hunting lodge in Mayerling, shown below. In 1889, Prince Rudolph and his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, were found dead of a suspected suicide at the hunting lodge. There is a lot of speculation as to whether it was really a suicide or maybe a staged murder. Here’s a link to the Wikipedia page if you’re interested in reading more about the incident! The room where they were found dead was converted into a chapel. The lodge has a small exhibit explaining the timeline of that fateful day & night in 1889 and discussed different theories.
The nuns attend the church service through this window:
Our next stop on the tour was to the Cistercian Abbey of Heiligenkreuz, built in 1133. According to Viator, this is the oldest continuously occupied Cistercian monastery in the world. The grounds have a “plague column” that commemorates all the lives lost to the plague. We toured the monastery grounds and several of the rooms.
The last stop on the tour was a boat ride on the Seegrotte, the largest underground lake in Europe. This man made lake was used during WWII to build planes like the one shown below. Honestly, the ride wasn’t that exciting. We were in a cave and there wasn’t much to view from the boat.
On the drive back to Vienna, we passed the remains of the Lichtenstein Castle in Austria. I actually visited Lichtenstein on a previous trip to Europe and had no idea there were Lichtenstein Castles in other countries. We saw a lot of people walking around the area of the castle and enjoying the scenery. I wish we could’ve stopped, but was happy we at least got to drive by!
When we got back to Vienna, we did some more walking around and stumbled upon the Succession Building with a gold “ball” on top!
We spent some time at the Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) and the Christmas Markets outside of it. We took the elevator to the very top to see the artwork inside the dome. There were some “interesting” scenes that we got a close up view of.
One of my favorite foods I tried in Vienna was a Puffer, which tasted like a hashbrown with some spices!!!!
We went to Stadtpark and saw the Johann Strauss statue. The statue wasn’t that exciting, but we enjoyed walking around the park and seeing all the ducks in the ponds!
That was the end of our second day in Vienna. The next day, we headed to Schloss Schonbrunn, a huge palace outside Vienna.
* Vienna Woods & Mayerling half-day trip – Overall, I enjoyed the trip. I was expecting to see more Austrian hills and scenery. Since we went in the winter, there weren’t many other day trip options to choose from, but I would pick a different one over this one if given the choice.
* Viator.com – I LOVE this website. They have a ton of tours you can book for places all around the world.
* Karlskirche – I enjoyed the Christmas Market outside the church probably more than actually visiting the church. It was pretty neat to be able to see the paintings inside the dome though! Even if they were a little strange looking, haha.
* Stadtpark – Even though it was winter, we still enjoyed walking around this park. I wish I had some bread to feed the ducks!
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