Tuesday, April 30-Day 11
I felt a nudge at 6 am this morning. No, it wasn’t Cynthia moving me over to my own side of the bed. Rather, it was the Idun docking at the Viking wharf in Vienna. As I stretched out a hand and partly peeled back the curtain, I could see the impressive skyline of modern Vienna across the river from our boat.
We had a light breakfast and at 9 am we boarded the bus for the tour of the city. Soon, even though we were in the morning rush, we reached the ring road which circles the city centre and contains most of the important and historic buildings of the city. The building below now houses the central library but adjacent to it is the home of the Lipizzaner stallions. As we wandered through the area, several crossed our path, being led from their training area back to the stables. I managed to catch a glimpse of one in the stable area and got this pic and a tiny video clip.
The region’s most influential dynasty, the Habsburgs, came into power in 1273, and for 600 years they expanded their empire by marriage and force. Their influence can be see everywhere in this city, through their massive summer homes and palaces.
Our guide Petra took us on a gentle walking tour though the centre of the old part of the city. Once again narrow streets with pastel coloured buildings contrasted with broad, tree lined avenues flanked by massive houses and palaces. This city looks so opulent and it pulses with energy.
Once in the city centre we arrived at the massive cathedral of St Stephen, named after the first Christian martyr, Stephen, who was stoned to death because of his belief. We were given a half an hour of free time to explore this beautiful pedestrian area, so we peeked in the cathedral, then Cynthia wanted to buy some specialty items, so we headed out and eventually found what we were looking for. A huge cleaning of the cathedral’s exterior was underway but as the scaffold is covered by massive pictures of that section of the cathedral, a passer-by might not even notice what was going on. At any rate, the cleaned parts were so good to look at in contrast to the parts blackened by years of traffic and weather.
Eventually it was time to make our way to the meeting point with Petra and on back to the bus. We arrived back at the ship in time for lunch. That was followed by a relaxation time for the fab four so that we would be ready for dinner! It’s a tough life, but OK if you don’t weaken. Seriously though, our dinner is early tonight (6pm) so that we can make it in time for the Mozart/ Strauss concert tonight. More to come on that.
After dinner we were treated to a wonderful concert. The bus took us into the centre to the concert hall which was formerly the stock exchange of the city. However, with the advent of computers and modern technology, such a large building was no longer needed. The building now houses concerts put on by the Vienna Residents’ Orchestra. About ten musicians were in the ensemble, made up almost equally of men and women. They played compositions by Mozart and Strauss. A mezzo soprano and a baritone sang for us, while appearances were made by a ballerina and her partner ,who danced to some of the music. All in all, it was a wonderful evening for some 400+ (our estimate) of us from (we think) five river ships docked in Vienna.
Goodbye for now and God bless.