The morning included a city bus tour of Vienna, (1,750,000 + inhabitants) whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Following the bus tour, we set out on foot to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral begun in 1137 and re-built multiple times over the years. The church is built in the Romanesque style and is enormous in size with huge arched ceilings, tons of beautiful carved stone figures, fine oil paintings colorful glass windows. The churches organ was undergoing major renovations and so many parts of the church were closed off.
After the cathedral we visited the Liechtenstein City Palace still privately owned by the Liechtenstein family after more than 300 years. Having recently undergone five years of renovation the palace appears in all its former glory. Held to be the first major building of the High Baroque age in Vienna with stucco ceilings, opulent neo-Rococo interiors and original furnishings. A selection of masterpieces from the family’s private art collection are also displayed within the residence. We visited about twelve rooms on the second floor, each more beautiful than the previous. Each was perfectly decorated with intricate parquet floors, upholstered walls, ornate gilded ceilings, fabulous chandeliers and was furnished beautifully.
Vienna is situated in the northeast part of Austria with the Danube running through the northern suburbs of the city. The Ring Strasse is the boundary of the Inner City or Innenstadt, with its fine architecture and many shops and hotels. An atmosphere of elegance and style of bygone eras prevails in this area. Art nouveau buildings line the streets of some suburbs, as Vienna was the birthplace of this then-controversial style.
Vienna contains more than 75 museums, grand palaces, shops, antique markets, international choirs and orchestras, as well as fine restaurants and cozy coffee-houses, which are very much part of Austrian culture. The Habsburgs who ruled the country for six centuries resided in the palatial Hofburg, which houses the Kaiser-Apartments and the Crown Jewels. Unfortunatley, time did not permit us to visit the sight.
With Ric and Kevin, we enjoyed lunch at a local restaurant where we had the pork schnitzel and French fries. We walked the city exploring the beautiful and elegant opera house, museum buildings, parks and monuments around every corner.
Some of our fellow guests took an optional tour with dinner in the Vienna woods, but we stayed onboard and enjoyed dinner as usual. Some professional dancers were brought onboard to provide entertainment and encourage guests to learn contemporary dances you could dance at a Viennese Dance. Not us!