On Alice's recommendation, we decided to spend our last day visiting the Schönbrunn Palace and gardens. We had this great idea that we could ride the city bikes for 4 miles when it was 80 degrees and sunny... that was not true. We ended up taking the U-bahn to Schönbrunn, and it was totally worth the 4 Euros.
The palace entry fee was too much for us, but we were able to see the outside and walk through the amazing gardens. Rebecca loves taking flower pictures, so we spent a good hour or two strolling the garden paths and enjoying the beautiful weather.
We returned to the city to stand in line for stehplatz tickets for the Vienna State Opera. Anna Netrebko was singing in La Bohéme that night, we knew it would be a long line and wanted to be there early. We arrived about 40 minutes before the ticket office opened, and we weren't even close to first in line. We ended up getting tickets 52 and 53, some people had been waiting for hours by the time we arrived.
The girls next to us brought sandwiches and salads for dinner and were camped out like shoppers on Black Friday. For opera! I can't imagine this happening in the US. The tickets were only 4 Euros, so it was totally worth the wait. We ended up in the gallery, which was basically front and center with a great view of the stage. The seats in front of us go for hundreds of Euros... we felt like super savvy travelers.
La Bohéme was amazing. The orchestra sounded perfect, and the Vienna horn sound just soared out of the pit and coated us in magical golden rainbows. (Not really, but close enough...) The sound quality of the orchestra was unreal. The singers' projection was amazing, I can't imagine what it's like to be standing next to one of them during an aria. My favorite set was when Mimi goes to find Rodolfo at the tavern. They had the most realistic stage snow I've ever seen, it had that thickness and fog that sets in during a nighttime snowfall. It even SOUNDED like snow, everything was muffled. I can't believe the sets get torn down every night for a new opera the next day.
After standing for three hours (and having walked all day for the last 4 days) we decided to splurge on our first meal out in Vienna. We'd been really good about eating at Alice's and packing sandwiches to save the little money we had, so it was time for a treat. This Würstelstand was a little ways down the street, and as soon as I saw the Würstel box meal with fries and Käsekreiner (cheese-filled sausage) I was SOLD. It was an incredibly delicious end to an awesome evening.