The whole reason for our trip was here! New Year’s Eve. We started the day by visiting the Belvedere, an art museum that is made up of multiple palaces in the city. The palaces were built in the 1700s and were the summer residences of Prince Eugene of Savoy (late 17th century, early 18th century). This is also the home of Gustav Klimt’s famous “The Kiss.”
We arrived around 10 am and started in the Upper Belvedere. Unlike a lot of museums we have been to, these were a series of bite size exhibits, which made it quite enjoyable to walk through and prevented “museum fatigue.” We made our way through many Klimts, as well as plenty of impressionist pieces and of course your typical medieval art. The palace is breathtaking and we were not disappointed!
Following, we headed to the museum cafe in the Upper Belvedere and were pleasantly surprised by how tasty the salmon prosecco risotto was. It was a good thing we did the Upper gallery first because by the time we left two hours later, it was jam packed. We headed over to the Lower Belvedere, which houses temporary exhibits. Currently, Hubert Scheibl’s exhibit “Fly” is up in the Orangery. I’m not alway a huge fan of modern art, but this exhibit was breathtaking. Massive pieces with thoughtful color and techniques used throughout. I highly recommend checking the artist out, and if you have a change to see the exhibit (in Vienna or wherever it goes next), definitely do so!
The final stop of the museum was the Winter Palace, which is about a 15 minute walk from the Upper and Lower Belvedere museums. Here we walked through an exhibit featuring work from the sculptor Johann Pinsel. Pinsel worked in wood and produced pieces during the Baroque period for churches. Up until very recently, art historians did not even know his name and can only guess his approximate birth/death years as limited information exists.
Our final stop before heading back to the AirBnb was SPAR gourmet, a Whole Foods-esque type grocery store, to stock up on chocolates and other goodies you can only find in Austria/Germany. At the AirBnb we packed, made dinner and finally started getting ready for the Silvester Ball.
The Silvester Ball was absolutely magical. The people watching is superb, and the Hofburg Palace is opened up to attendees to roam. Each room held a different activity or musical performance. There was a DJ in the Disco room, a blues band in the Lounge, performances throughout (ballet, singing, dancing) and of course, a ballroom to dance the evening away.
To start, we gathered around the grand staircase and enjoyed glasses of champagne (I did, James simply held my second one for me!). The staircase opens with a ballet/dance performance, and then everyone walks up to where they spend the rest of the evening.
We roamed around for the first 45 minutes or so, taking in performances, listening to music, and watching partners do the Austrian Waltz. The Austrians are so serious about their waltz that you can actually be asked to stop dancing if you can’t do it incorrectly! We luckily avoided that, though we used the massive crowds to help hide our horribleness.
The rest of the evening we spent on the ball room floor, dancing, people watching and counting down to midnight. At the stroke of 12, silver streamers came flowing down from the ceiling and the bell of St. Stephen’s cathedral is broadcasted indoors. It was an incredibly unique and wonderful experience, and I am so glad that we were able to make this happen. I told James it was on my bucket list, but now I might have to convince him we go back a few more times in our lifetime.
Happy New Year!