Schloss Schönbrunn, Vienna

Although the sun would break through a bit later, Schönbrunn Palace was set off by heavy, brooding clouds when I first arrived on a Sunday morning. As I walked from the nearby subway station to the Palace gate at 7:30 am, I saw virtually no one. Though he is a little hard to make out in the relatively low-res photo for web posting, there is a lone jogger just to the right of the staircase in the photo. In any case, my plan was to take an early morning walk around the Palace grounds and later buy a ticket to go into the Palace. The walk through the beautiful grounds was thoroughly enjoyable, and went just as planned. However, when I went to buy a ticket for the Palace, the earliest I could enter was after 1:30 pm. Typically, I had done zero research or advanced planning for my visit, and thus was not aware there is a limit to the number of visitors inside the facility at any given time, and one has to reserve a time when buying a ticket. I wanted to go inside, but with only three and a half days in Vienna, it just did not make sense to spend pretty much an entire day at the Schönbrunn, so I went in search of brunch and coffee instead.

Schloss Schönbrunn served as the principal summer residence of Austria’s Hapsburg rulers from around the year 1600 until early in the 20th century. Several kilometers from the Hofburg in the center of old Vienna, even today the Schönbrunn and its extensive landscaped grounds are removed from the bustle of contemporary Vienna. The imposing Baroque-style edifice that appears in this photograph was completed in the 1740s during the reign of Hapsburg empress Maria Theresa. Wikipedia informs us that the palace has 1,441 rooms. The Schönbrunn and the grounds are preserved, restored as needed, owned and managed by a limited-liability company, which is, in turn, wholly-owned by the Austrian state (Wikipedia). Although I did not get inside the palace itself, everything I saw outside was immaculate and in excellent condition. Very impressive.

The main gate to Schönbrunn Palace.

And yes, the Schönbrunn has more statues featuring scantily clad classical figures in what appears to be uncomfortable repose.

Winter Day, Da Nang, Vietnam

There is never snow or really cold weather in this part of the world, but there is definitely a winter season in central Vietnam. It is characterized by rain, overcast days, and the occasional damp chill with temperatures in the 60s. Laugh if you will, but when you live in a house that is completely open to the exterior environment and the temperature inside is the same as the temperature outside, a damp 65 degrees can feel pretty raw and uncomfortable when you are lounging around that house. Normally, the rainy, wintry season begins in late September or October and is over by early to mid-January. Not this year – unseasonable rain, wind, and low temperatures have been with us throughout February.