Are you ready for the Vienna travel blog? Well here it is! I wasn't planning on going to Vienna, Austria this year BUT when I found out I was awarded a Stevie Award and that's where the award ceremony would be held, we knew we had to change our schedule and go!!!
First off, I entered the prestigious Stevie Awards on a whim and did not think that I would be awarded! The Stevie Awards are one of most distinguished business awards that there is! They have a few different business award ceremonies, one for women and a few for different countries including the American Business Awards and the International Business Awards. Since I serve clients internationally, I decided to enter the International Business Awards. There are several different categories that business can compete in. I entered the Company of the Year- Consumer Services- Small Business Category. There is a panel of judges that look at what business have accomplished within the year and base their judging decisions on that. I was awarded a Bronze Stevie Award in this category! Since I won a Company of the Year award, I was also entered into the public vote for the Stevie's People's Choice Award. I ended up winning the Consumer Services People's Choice Award as well!!! I'm still in disbelief! Other companies that were present at the International Business Awards were Dell, Cisco Systems, IBM, Pegasus Airlines, FedEx, Amway, DHL, Shell, Mercedes Benz among others! Being able to represent a small business as an entrepreneur with all of these huge corporations at this awards was pretty mind blowing! Thank you so much IBA Stevie Awards for this honor!
The International Business Awards 2019 was held in Vienna, Austria at the Andaz Vienna am Belvedere Hotel on October 19th. I luckily had that weekend free and were able to attend the awards. We didn't have a ton of time surrounding that weekend to take off and visit Vienna so we flew out Thursday night and flew back on Monday. We were still able to see so much of Vienna though and packed our days full while we were there!
Keep scrolling for the photos and to see and read about what we saw and did! Although I took my camera with me, I didn't end up taking a ton of photos so most of these are cell phone shots. I was busy enjoying myself and most of the places did not allow photos inside so I just snuck some with the cell phone. The photos from the Stevie Awards are from the photographers that the Stevie Awards had present.
Our trip started out around 4pm on Thursday, October 17th. We left Lafayette and drove up to Chicago since we were flying on Turkish Airlines out of O'hare Airport. We LOVE Turkish Airlines and fly them whenever we are able. We decided to take the longer drive to Chicago vs Indianapolis just so we could fly Turkish! I'm one of those people who refuse to get sick on airplanes (tip- to limit getting sick wear a mask, wipe down your trail table and arm rests, and get a window seat away from the restrooms- you have a higher chance of catching something with an aisle seat vs a window seat!) so I wore a mask on our longer 10 hour flight from Chicago to Turkey.
We had a super short layover in Istanbul and then had a quick 2 hour flight to Vienna!
Once we got into Vienna, which was on Friday night, we took the Vienna City Center Train into the city center and then we realized that was still aways away from our hotel so we called an Uber to take us the rest of the way!
The next day, Saturday, we woke up bright and early, 4am, so we could catch a 6am breakfast at our hotel which was super good! We stayed at the same hotel as the Stevie Awards, Andaz Vienna am Belvedere Hotel, to make things easy on us. Plus the hotel was literally across the street from Belvedere Palace, more on that later! We wanted an early start to the day so we could sightsee a bit before we had to get ready for the Stevie Awards that night.
Mornings in Vienna were super foggy as you can see in that first photo! The second photo with colorful buildings were a block away from our hotel. Apparently, they were painted the colors of the Euro bank notes and were supposed to have projections of the money on the buildings. The tenants, however, did not like that idea so the projections were nixed but the colors stayed.
To the right of these photos is one of the outer walls of Belvedere Palace. The grounds here were huge! We didn't visit Belvedere this day but took a quick photo while we were walking by. To the left is nicknamed consulate square and was filled with all of the foreign consulate buildings which were also beautiful!
The monument below is for the Soviets and there is a special treaty in place that insures that it will not be removed or torn down. The photo of the right is of one of the gorgeous consulate buildings!
The architecture in Vienna is super beautiful! I'm always a fan of other countries architecture because I love the older architecture styles and American is too new for all the pretty styles of the past! The elaborate buildings that you see below used to be mansions/houses/etc of rich business owners. They wanted to display their wealth and how well their businesses were doing with their homes so these are prevalent throughout downtown Vienna. They are now shops, apartments, and businesses. How neat would it be to say you had an apartment in so-and-so's palace!
The Cathedral below is St. Stephen's Cathedral. I'm a huge fan of Gothic architecture so this was a favorite of mine! I mean, it's soooooo pretty!
Below is another example of a former business owner's palace that is turned into shops and apartments. The right is a cute little cafe that was on our walk to Naschmakt which was an amazing open air market with lots of food. I didn't take any photos there because it was pretty crowded but there was so much amazing food!
Our next stop after Nashmakt was Hofburg Palace. This palace was the main palace for Franz Joseph and Elizabeth (Sisi). Part of the palace is turned into an art museum, they have concerts in another part, and you can tour the Sisi apartments, which was the living quarters of Elizabeth.
The outside is so pretty and curved into an arch shape.
We did the Sisi apartment tour which started with the China and Silver tour. This featured tons of silver, gold, china serving sets that were used throughout the palace through the different generations. The photo of the left is of one of the amazing candlesticks. The photo on the right is the main staircase to Elizabeth's apartment.
They had a few of her dresses on display as well as lots of artwork. The artwork on the left is of her husband and ruler Franz Joseph.
I LOVE all the gold leaf in palaces!
Hofburg Palace's pretty golden gates of the palace.
After our Hofburg tour we were pretty hungry. We decided to walk back to Nashmakt for lunch and went to Dr. Falafel (if you're in Vienna, definitely go here if you like falafels or kebabs). I got a falafel wrap. Soooo yummy!
On our way back to the hotel we stopped by Karlskirche! It sort of looks like a small Taj Mahal and is super pretty! (You can also see that it's still pretty foggy even in the afternoon.) After this, we went back to the hotel to rest for a bit and get ready for the Stevie Awards.
The Stevie Awards were held in the ballroom of our hotel.
Got some photos in front of the step and repeat wall.
And drank lots of wine!
Then it was time for dinner and the awards! That's our table down there on the right! We had a great table group and we cheered each other on when it was time for our award speeches!
The Stevie Awards said a few words and then all of the Stevie Award winners were announced!
Here I am accepting my Bronze Stevie Award for Company of the Year- Consumer Services- Small Business and my Consumer Services People's Choice Award!
If you want to watch my acceptance speech, then here you go!
And here I am at the step and repeat with my awards!
After the awards we went up to the rooftop bar for one quick drink and then headed to bed so we could get up bright and early and explore Vienna one more time!
We started out Sunday with a breakfast and listened to Linus Schellin of IBM give a small presentation. Afterwards, we went on one of the tours that the Stevie Awards offered the winners (so nice)! We did a bus city tour and toured Schonbrunn Palace! Schonbrunn Palace was the summer palace of the Vienna royalty. The city during the summer didn't smell great so the rich would escape to the outskirts of the city. This palace became a favorite of Franz Joseph and Elizabeth and they stayed here often. It was also where Marie Antoinette was raised and Empress Maria Theresa lived!
I mean, the outside of the palace is pretty great! Marie Antoinettes mother, Empress Maria Theresa, received this palace from her father and really expanded it and painted it this yellow color. That color is now known as Schonbrunn yellow and was the color of the year when she painted the palace that color!
Lot's of art fills the palace from photos of Franz Joseph and Elizabeth to Marie Antoinette and her 13 siblings.
The rooms are all different and gorgeous in their own way!
This gallery ballroom was amazing! I could just live here forever!
I love how each room was really decorated differently but everything still flowed great and was so elaborate.
After Schonbrunn Palace, we were taken back to our hotel and I explored on our own. Our first stop was this small demure church on the left. This church is Kaisergruft and you would never know it by looking at it from the outside but under the church is an amazing crypt called the Imperial Crypt! This crypt was for members of Austria's former Habsburg dynasty. 149 Habsburgs, 12 emperors, 19 empresses and queens have their final resting place here. Franz Joseph and Elizabeth are also laid to rest here. The coffins and cypts are so ornamental and beautiful!
I mean look at all of this detail!
Family members of these former royalty still come to pay their respects and you can find flowers and tokens laid by the feet of the tombs.
Franz Joseph and Elizabeth's tombs.
Our final stop was Belvedere Palace! This is the palace that was across from our hotel. It featured a ton of garden areas and two palaces, Upper Belvedere and Lower Belvedere. Belvedere Palace was the summer residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy. Upper Belvedere, which is more elaborate, was only for his guests! He only used this huge amazing palace to entertain! Lower Belvedere was where he lived and was much smaller and less elaborate. Both of these palaces are now art museums and feature so many amazing works of art!
The palaces in the above photos and in the below photos are of Upper Belvedere, the part that was just used for guests and entertaining.
The palace you see below that's small with the red roof is the palace he lived in. Such a stark difference!
Needless to say, I was in love with Upper Belvedere! This is the front view with the pond.
So many pretty details!
I mean, I'd gladly be a guest and then just never leave!
We sat at the gardens for a bit and then went to a street vendor for more falafels for dinner! We then called it a night since we needed to leave the hotel at 3am to catch our flight back home.
After checking out of our hotel we called and Uber to the airport this time and caught our short flight from Vienna to Istanbul. We had a 3 hour layover in Istanbul so we did some shopping and checked out this mini Stonehenge-esque exhibit.
Then it was time to board our flight and fly back to Chicago! Vienna and the Stevie Awards was really a blast and I am so blessed and humbled that this little business of mine really takes me to some unique places and gives me some unique opportunities!