At about 10:30 we took the bus from our hotel and drove 45 minutes to Festschloss Hof, the country home of the Hapsburg Dynasty, originally built by Prince Eugene of Savoy. This palace, on the border with Slovenia (we could see the suburbs of Bratislava from the castle) has been recently reopened to the public after many years where it was first ravaged by the military and then by time and neglect. Restoration work is still continuing and the Austrian Government is trying to locate and return many of the missing artwork from the palace.
The palace originally had just two floors. When Empress Maria Teresia came to live there she found it a bit small so she added a third floor. There is however a painting done of the palace as it was originally built by Prince Eugene and I took a photograph of that because it appears so much more elegant and graceful with just the two stories.
The children went off to make pottery while a lovely lady called Maria gave us a tour of the palace, explaining its sad history and the efforts being made now to restore it to its former glory. The gardens are almost complete and they are a sight to behold indeed! We had lunch on the palace grounds after which the children went to the petting zoo while we did went off for a Schnapps tasting. Later we all enjoyed a horse & buggy ride around the extensive palace grounds. We learned of the existence of blue eyed donkeys and European bison. In days gone by children in Austria kept donkeys as pets instead of dogs & cats. The horses pulling our buggy were of a special breed too, really big boned, tough and shaggy.