Day 28: Schonbrunn to Apfel Strudels

Today’s adventure was to Schonbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Hapsburgs. The featured image above is the SIDE of the palace, not the main elevation. That’s about 5 times the width of this view. As mentioned earlier, this tops Versailles in my mind. The Austrians, in the tour guide’s words: are “crazy”. The palace tour provided proof of the royalty’s propensity towards personality disorders. There were numerous amusing stories and morbid details. The guide repeated several times “don’t believe what you see in the palace—it’s all an illusion”, referring to the wooden chandeliers painted to look like solid gold, pictures of important dignitaries who were not present at an event, and elaborate settings that even the royalty couldn’t hack.

Among the many amusing stories were those about hygiene and infestation. Thanks to the Catholic Church, the priests promoted the idea that bad men smaller than the eye could see existed in the water. They could get into your pores through water and make you die. For thats reason alone and for 400 years no one wanted to wash. They only took baths once or twice a year. Slowly through a catholic edit they were able to wash once a month.

For that reason, so much death and dying occurred. Infant mortality was very high; the queen and women spent many years bearing children, many of whom died in infancy. Out of 15-20 children, only 2-4 would survive. During this time, someone you knew either died of smallpox, influenza, or the plague before 35. The fact that some people, let alone royalty, lived to 50 years old would be considered our present-day octogenarians or older.

The concept of the “flea Market” comes from one of the few activities that both rich and poor engaged in. During that time, monkeys were used to deflea and delouse inhabitants. All people were living and breathing biosystems infested with organisms that bred on the human body. The average person’s idea of a spa day was going to the market where they could get deloused or be rid of fleas in public. The monkeys ate the lice and fleas, and everyone was entertained in the process. The royalty didn’t do it in public venues, but had their own monkeys trained to do the same for them. It made me itching to watch someone I know partaking in this purging and richly satisfying event.

The pompadours and hair styles of the royalty often weighed more than several pounds, as they were from many years of growth from their own hair. In order to wash their hair, it took a lot of planning, help from others and a full day’s activity. Like washing, this was another once-to-twice a year event, because of the difficulty in organizing the cleaning (there were plenty of other distractions and more interesting things to do than this). They also had to wait an entire day for the hair to dry—sorry, no Vidal Sassoon dryers were on hand.

Obviously, I was inspired and paid more attention to this tour than others in the past. I guess this one of gore and filth really appealed to me and reminded me that I didn’t want to be one of the royalty anyway. I gave the tour guide 5 stars, though.

I’m attaching a few off-the beaten track photos I took while cruising the grounds.
I indulged in apple strudel at lunchtime and had that AHA moment. The dough is stretched like pizza to make it chewy, and they add breadcrumbs to the apples to soak up the liquid. I was reading the recipe from a cookbook I bought for that purpose and realized that I was eating what I was reading. So here it is to share with you. I am also attaching a recipe for Salzburger Nockerl for those of you who were wondering what I was talking about.

A few of VV’s Random, Spur-of-the-Moment World-Wise Travel Tips:

1. The supermarket is your friend. Find the nearest one as soon as you can, and buy fruits and vegetables for salads to maintain your diet. It can at least balance the rich foods you will be pigging out on in the restaurants. Eating out is often cheaper than eating healthy, so you have to swim upstream on this.
2. Do your own laundry. After not having any options in Russia, I finally started washing my own laundry. I managed to avoid this for a long time, even on all my travels. But now I am borrowing Gee Kin’s tips to use bath gel or shampoo to wash my underwear and even my designer jeans. I finally resolved that it takes less time to do this on Day 1 of a five-day hotel stay and have plenty of time for the items to dry out, than searching for and going to a laundry. You will find creative ways to hang garments on clothes hangers, such as any door knobs or projections in the hotel room—even on lamp shades!
3. Take public transit. Forget taxis, unless you are in a jam. I love cracking the entire bus and mass transit system if there is one.
4. Stay cool. Stay in the shade whenever you are at those palace grounds, walking 3 miles to the gazebo. Wear a wide brimmed hat and check your path before you move. Don’t follow tourists who are notoriously stupid about these types of things.
5. Save a screen shot of your arrival point to the hotel. Its often easy to forget. If you are taking public transit your phone is not often connected to wifi at the train station or airport. You can also show these at tourist information counters where you want to go, and point to it if you don’t speak the language.
6. Get a phrase guide for the country you are visiting off-line on your phone. Use it to practice while you are on the road.
7. Use wi-fi only in the hotels and turn off your cellular phone coverage. Check your provider in advance for options to cellular access but only if needed.
8. Bring bandaids for sore feet.
9. Find the biggest, flattest royal grounds to walk or run 3 miles every chance you can get.
10. Can’t make it to 10, so it’s the Top Nine.

Some are obvious, some are not. The ones at the top are from the fact that I have battled with these for years as a world traveler, tried to avoid them, and then finally resigned myself to facing the music. No magic bullets. Some learn faster than others.

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