After trying to wake up early, we ended up just pressing snooze and sleeping in a bit, having not gotten enough sleep the night before on the train. Before leaving our room, we came up with a rough plan for what we wanted to do that day. On the way out, we got kasekrainer hot dogs at a nearby stand, which were delicious.
When we were on the overnight train, the guy who worked in Vienna suggested that we check out a Viennese coffee house, specifically recommending Cafe Central. We navigated toward the coffee house in some light rain and found it pretty easily. We didn't know about it before visiting, but the coffee houses are actually pretty important in Viennese culture. Rather than small coffee shops like those in the U.S., Viennese coffee houses are extravagant, and some are even converted palaces. Viennese coffee house culture is even on a UNESCO list of "intangible cultural heritage." In the past, important intellectuals were regulars in these coffee houses, where they met, read international newspapers, played chess, and more. The coffee house that we went to, Cafe Central, had been frequented by Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, Vladmir Lenin, Adolf Hitler, and others.
The coffee house was very impressive inside, with marble columns and tables. Janelle got the supposedly-local melange, which mostly tasted the same as a cappuccino, and Matt got the cafe's eponymous Cafe Central kaffe, which was espresso with cream and apricot liqueur. We also got some of the specialty desserts that were on display, including the Viennese specialty sachertorte. The drinks and desserts were fairly expensive, but it was still an interesting experience to see such an important part of Viennese culture.
After taking a long and relaxing coffee break, we took the metro to Schonbrunn Palace, which was the summer home of Vienna's wealthy Habsburg family. The palace was fairly plain on the outside, but it was decorated nicely inside. You could only see most of the palace interior with an expensive guided tour, but we got a chance to see a couple of the rooms through the windows. The palace grounds also have extensive gardens and walking trails, including a maze and the world's oldest zoo (with Baroque buildings). The gardens have essentially become a public park, with many people jogging and walking through them. We spent a while walking around the grounds (in a little bit of rain) and checking out the views of the palace. One thing that we found funny was that the family had built large fake Roman ruins and an obelisk with fake (i.e. meaningless) Egyptian hieroglyphics as decorations.
After walking around for a while, we took the metro back in the direction of our room, but took it a little further because Janelle wanted to check out a ferris wheel she saw on the map. It ended up being part of a large, open amusement park that included a huge swing ride higher than any we've seen in the U.S.
Next, we headed towards our room, stopping at a grocery store along the way. We're always surprised by how cheap the food is at these stores. We bought a few snacks as well as a couple cans of some beer-based drinks called radlers. We'd heard about them from the Viennese guy on our train, who said that a lot of people in this region love them, especially in the summer. They are essentially a half-and-half mixture of beer and lemon-flavored soda or lemonade (after trying them, we don't recommend them).
After stopping at our room to book a place in Salzburg (unfortunately, a potential CouchSurfing host backed out at the last minute when his girlfriend was too busy with school), we headed back out for a late dinner at the brewery we'd gone to the night before. It was crowded again and we had a enjoyed a very filling dinner of Wiener schnitzel, "spicy" (like the Italians, the Austrians don't seem to have any tolerance for spiciness) chicken wings, and, of course, beer. Once we'd finished our dinner, we walked back across the center of Vienna towards our room and went to sleep after updating the blog a little bit.
Overall, Vienna was a very nice city. It consistently ranks first or second for the best quality of life in the world; we thought this was easy to see even after only a little time in the city. There are numerous parks, public transportation is consistent and convenient, food is cheap and hearty, everyone dresses very well, and people seem friendly. Vienna would be a great place to live!