Oh Vienna!! How wonderful you were!
The morning we arrived, we decided to have a leisurely breakfast in our stateroom and it was absolutely wonderful. We hadn't booked the earlier tour and were appreciative to have a bit of a 'sleep-in'.
Our event, after breakfast in Vienna, wasn't terribly exciting since we decided to have our COVID tests for our return flight here since it seemed as though it was the most convenient and best time to get them done. It was quite a long walk to get to our appointment, but it all went very smoothly and we had our results very quickly too! I wish it was that easy getting PCR test results quickly, here in the U.S. Many of the European countries seem to be doing this very well.
We actually were supposed to have an afternoon tour to the Imperial Schonbrunn Palace but decided to have a further break from this since it was to be a fairly long 4 hour tour with an extensive drive both there and back. Instead, we enjoyed some quiet, leisurely time on board the ship and I also was able to get some work done. It was such a beautiful day and the top deck of the ship was very quiet and comfortable.
Here's what we missed though... :(
We were fortunate to have an overnight in Vienna which is why we decided to make this a leisurely day. That evening we had the most wonderful time at an exclusive concert of the Schonbrunner Palace Orchestra at the stunning Belvedere Palace. It was absolutely phenomenal!
The Schloss Schonbrunn Orchestra performed mostly Mozart and Johann Strauss pieces with some fabulous dancers and singers performing as well. They were outstanding and it was very entertaining!
Prior to the evening performance, we also had a wonderful tour inside the palace and also saw the the museum and learned a lot about Gustav Klimt's artwork and story. All very interesting.
This is the Belvedere Palace during the day - so beautiful outside and inside!
The following day, we had a wonderful tour of Vienna's Highlights. That and the prior evening's wonderful performance made both Rene and I decide we have to make it back there sometime. There seemed to be so much to see and do and it's such a beautiful city! The architecture is absolutely riveting.
Hofburg, the Imperial Palace of Vienna is one of the largest palace complexes in the world. The older buildings date back to the 13th century and was the residence and seat of government for the Habsburg emperors up until 1918. To this day, since 1946, it's been the official residence and workplace of the Austrian President.
It also happens to be the home of the Spanish Riding School with the famous Lipizzaner horses. It's an Austrian institution dedicated to the preservation of classical dressage. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to see a performance but here's another reason for us to make a return trip!
We had some free time to wander around the beautiful city center with lovely buildings at every turn, great statuary, and delightful outdoor patios for coffee, pastries, beer and people watching. The buildings were all so beautiful with a mix of both older ones and some pretty fantastic newer ones alongside too!
There was also some great shopping, both high end and plenty of souvenir shops too. Of course there were a lot of Swarovski Crystal shops abound too. This popular world renowned brand originated here in Austria back in 1895 and continues to exist as a family-owned business.
St. Stephen's Cathedral was our final stop in the City Center before we made our way back to the ship. It happens to be the mother church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Vienna and also the seat of the Archbishop of Vienna. Note the ornately patterned roof covered by 230,000 glazed tiles. On the south side of the building there's a mosaic of the double-headed eagle, symbolic of the empire that was ruled by the Habsburg Dynasty, while on the north side both coats of arms for the City of Vienna and the Republic of Vienna are depicted. It certainly has quite the history, with all the fires that it's had to contend with and multiple restorations and rebuilds throughout the years since it was originally built in 12th century.
Prior to leaving Vienna, we enjoyed yet another mini concert on board the ship with an acclaimed vocalist, Steffan Mullan and a virtuoso pianist, Lord Byron. They performed some classic melodies from the golden age of cinema for us all. It was a befitting end as we left the lovely, majestic city of Vienna behind with Budapest, Hungary our next and final stop!