Friday, November 20, 2009

Vienna



City street with black plague monument (left) and Roman ruins on the right.
Hofburg Imperial Palace


This morning we were in Vienna and had a VERY full day ahead. Our included tour started at 8:30 am with a trip into Vienna around the “Ring Road”. There are so many sights to see that we really just glossed over many along the bus ride. After a brief overview of the city we arrived at the statue of Maria-Theresa, wife of Franz Joseph I. Since most people know about Vienna I will not go into all of this history of the city. We could see that the Christmas Market was set up and opened at 11 am. We started our walk to the Hofburg Imperial Palace which was the winter home of the Habsburg family. We did not go inside, but rather walked through the courtyards and looked at the gorgeous architecture. We also saw where the current President’s offices are located and noted that he is in the country since the flag was flying. We went by the Spanish Riding School where the Lipizzaner horses are trained. I didn’t have time to see them practicing, so perhaps on another trip. We did get a glimpse of one or two of the horses. From there we went on into the city and even saw some Roman ruins that were discovered as they were building the metro system. Two things I discovered about Vienna, there are a ton of cathedral spires and LOTS of green domes. It makes it a bit difficult when using those as landmarks when trying to get back to a location (as I found out later). We made our way to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, again not going inside, but observing the very Gothic architecture and noting where the second spire was not completed, but merely capped off. We then made our way to where
Mozart lived for two years and where he composed his Figaro. This concluded our guided tour and we were on our own. I went with Rena to the Spanish Riding school, but decided we really didn’t have enough time to go and see the rehearsal. I left her and went over to the small Christmas market that we had seen earlier. They were just opening so I wandered through there looking at all of the different vendors. I bought a really neat etching from the artist – I just love it! I decided to not catch the bus back, but spend some more time in the city. I ran in to Rod and Dawn (friends from the ship) and they mentioned that there is a much larger market across town. I finally made my way over there and walked around for a while and had their version of a hot dog (brat) and some Gluhwine.
Time was running out since I had to go to Schönbrunn Palace. Needless to say, I got a bit lost trying to find the U-Bahn stop I needed. I finally realized that I went most of the way around the ring (a mile or two), but finally managed to get on the U-Bahn, and get back to the ship at 1:20, just in time to get on the bus to the palace. I was exhausted. We took the 30 minute trip across town to Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburg family. Maria-Theresa made major changes to the palace during her time. It is very reminiscent of Versailles and certainly as ornate.
We couldn’t take pictures inside, but the rooms are truly beautiful, but certainly “over the top” in terms of decoration. We spent free time in the gardens which have been winterized already. I hiked up the hill to the Gloriette, but only made it part of the way since I needed to get back to the bus. I made it, but was the last one on. After getting back to the ship it was time for an early dinner of Weiner Schnitzel and some more yummy desserts. We boarded the bus for the concert at 7:30 and went back into town.
video
The concert was at the Koursalon, where Strauss played his first concert. I have never had and hour and a half of music go by so quickly. They also had singers and dancers accompany some of the pieces. There was a brief intermission with champagne then the final portion of the concert. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the concert. When we arrive back at the ship they had Goulash and more sausages waiting for us. I have yet to be hungry! I decided to call the folks from the cell since service will be way too expensive once we get into Slovakia. It was great to talk to mom, but unfortunately dad was not home. Tomorrow we depart Vienna and sail to Bratislava. Looking forward to sleeping in because I am beyond exhausted!

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