Austria Schoenbrun PalaceWith only one day to spend in beautiful Vienna, Austria, my friend singer and actress Dalal Buchmann and I headed straight for the Schoenbrunn Palace, the gardens, zoo and a little shopping, Austria-style.

The Palace is one of the most famous tourist sites in Vienna. Its history dates back to the Middle Ages.

The Palace started out as a hunting lodge, then became a summer residence and today is the political meeting point of all dignitaries.

It also was home to the beloved Elisabeth of Austria, who was the wife of Franz Joseph I, and therefore she was also Queen of Hungary. She also held the titles of Queen of Bohemia and Croatia, among others. She was a historical icon, a non-conformist and free spirit, and valued individual freedom above all else. After her son committed suicide, she was murdered in Switzerland.

Austria Schoenbrun Palace GardensShe was known by her nickname, Sisi, throughout her life.   She has a fascinating history including when once asked for a gift what she would like most, she replied, “A young tiger and a medallion, but: …a fully equipped lunatic asylum would please me most.”  Copies of her earrings are sold at gift stores, (and they were gorgeous, so I bought a pair.)

Surrounding the castle are beautiful Baroque gardens, where the imperial children could play a really good game of hide and seek if they wanted to. The gardens are listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites as of 1996.

Our last tourist spot for the day was the Schoenbrunn zoo. What can I say, they were animals.

Shopping in Vienna

We capped off our whirlwind trip to Austria by shopping the streets of Vienna, and with a stop at the famous “Café Mozart, in the heart of Vienna, right next door to the Opera house. The Café is known for its, Melange, strudel and hot chocolate. The waiters are a bit stuffy, but the desserts are delicious.