Vienna, Austria

Our day in Vienna started with another early morning tour, with an 8:45 call time.  We began with the Viking bus tour, and then once it came time for the walking portion, our group of six broke off to go to the famous Spanish Riding School to watch the schooling of the beautiful snowy white Lipizzaner stallions.  To make a long story short, our tickets were purchased through the ship's concierge and there was some misunderstandings and misdirections along the way, causing us to miss a portion of our time there.   The city outside the school building was calling to Jeff and I, so we chose to watch for only a short while.


There was SO much to see, and we had SUCH a short time, we decided to kick back and view some of the sights from a carriage ride.   As we passed palace after palace and one amazing building after another, we knew instantly that we must return to Vienna for a longer visit someday!! 


Before taking a taxi back to the ship, we enjoyed a schnitzel lunch in a Viennese cafe.


We arrived just in time for the optional tour we signed up for - Schönbrunn Palace (which translates to "castle of the beautiful fountain").  This palace was built on the imperial family's hunting ground, and was intended to rival Versailles in France.


Habsburg empress Maria Thersea had 16 children (including Marie Antoinette) and each had the right to 5 rooms... in total there are 1441 rooms in the entire palace!  For a while, the royal family would move their entire belongings for their summer stay.  Can you imagine moving a whole house's contents and three months later moving it back... every year!?!  Finally it was furnished with permanent furniture, which remains today. The palace became Napoleon's headquarters when he occupied Vienna. 


Some of the sights we saw in Vienna: St. Stephen's Cathedral, Johann Strauss' house ( the king of the waltz), the Opera House (there's a 3 year wait for tickets to the famous New Years concert - 200 to 2000 euro per ticket on the black market - closed during July & August), Ringstrasse (a famous street from the middle of the 19th century), and the most AMAZING city hall building that I've ever seen!


Some interesting tidbits:  It was once forbidden to dance the waltz because it was too sexy as ladies and gents were too close together; 60 % of Vienna was destroyed in last two weeks of World War II; and, 50% of the area is covered in parks.


Our day ended with cocktails, disembarkation instructions (already? Time flies!), the Captain's Farewell Dinner, and the completion of our Yahtzee game (Triple Yahtzee with six people really does take a while!)

Tomorrow:  Budapest