THERE IS A LOT TO SEE IN VIENNA, ALSO KNOWN AS ‘THE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD’:
Amsterdam to Budapest River Cruise – Avalon Waterways – Day 12
Today was our Vienna visit day and our morning sightseeing tour by coach provided an overview of the city and included the lavish Hofburg Palace, the impressive Vienna Opera House, the impressive Ringstrasse and awe-inspiring St. Stephen’s Cathedral. After the city tour there was free time to explore the city before returning to the ship for lunch.
Back at the boat, those passengers who were going on the excursion to Schönbrunn Palace had a quick lunch and then they were off. As we’ve been to Schönbrunn Palace a couple of times before, we chose to stay in town to take snaps and to enjoy some free time on our own.
Our ship was moored quite far out of town, but luckily the metro was quite accessible and the trip into the centre of town was easy. Before reaching the metro we spotted an internet shop and stopped there to use the internet as it was much cheaper than the price on the boat. (Note – these days internet and wifi are provided free of charge)
If you don’t mind walking, Vienna is best explored on foot. The best place to start is undoubtedly St. Stephen’s Cathedral at Stephansplatz where we got off the metro. Stephansdom, with its richly coloured and ornate roof tile is one of the most distinctive landmarks in Vienna. As the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna, St Stephen’s has witnessed many important events in the history of Austria and one could spend a couple of hours in the cathedral, but we had to keep moving.
Luckily, many of the main sights of Vienna are within the Ringstrasse and without looking too hard, we found ourselves walking past grand buildings like the Hofburg Imperial Palace, the Austrian Parliament Building, the Rathaus, the Austrian National Library and more.
If, like us, you enjoy classical music or opera, Vienna is the ‘music capital of the world’ and eminent institutions such as the Wiener Staatsoper, Wiener Musikverein, Wiener Konzerthaus and the Burgtheater made us wish that we had more time in Vienna. In fact, the city was in preparation for Mozart’s birthday anniversary celebrations and there were scaffolding everywhere and Mozart look-alikes trying to sell people tickets to the many Mozart concerts in town.
We did manage to pay a visit to the Wiener Staatsoper and were lucky to be there in time to join a backstage tour.
Nearby in the underground passage at the Karlsplatz underground station we happened upon the “Opera Toilet”. Yes, the entrance to this public toilet is decorated to look like an opera stage and you can choose whether to go into Loge 2 or 3 or 4, etc. and enjoy opera music whilst using the facility. It is said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I’m not sure if the people at the State Opera and serious opera devotees appreciate this kitsch imitation of their glorious opera house.
Vienna Coffee House
Vienna is of course famous for its coffee house culture and all around town there were plenty of coffee houses ranging from the grand cafés and coffee houses like the Café Residenz, Café Hofburg, Grand Café, Café Demel and Café Landtmann to literary cafés like Café Hawelka or the more atmospheric places like the Café Engländer.
For Tony, a visit to Vienna is not complete without a stop for some Sachertorte at the Hotel Sacher. He likes the dark chocolate icing and the layers of apricot jam in the Sachertorte, but I still prefer the decadent chocolate mudcake that we have in Sydney.
Mozart and Strauss Concert
Tonight, passengers had a choice of exploring Vienna on their own or going for an optional Mozart and Strauss concert. We went along to the concert at the Vienna Kursalon. These performances are put on for tour groups and although the recitals were good, the place lacked the atmosphere of a true concert hall. The price of the ticket included a drink at interval time.
After the concert, we returned to the ship by coach and after midnight, the ship slipped away from Vienna and continued to nearby Bratislava.
There was a lot to see and do in Vienna and a day’s visit was hardly enough to properly enjoy the Austrian capital. However, we did see a lot during our walk within the Ringstrasse, had a taste of the famous Sachetorte and enjoyed a Mozart and Strauss concert, so we didn’t do too badly.
Vienna opera and concerts (you can book tickets here)
Photos of Vienna: Vienna Photo Gallery
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