Good Morning Everybody,
We wrapped our two day visit to Vienna, Austria yesterday, drove back to Budapest to drop off the rental car and caught a flight for London, England last night. Today I pick up another rental car and we are off to beautiful Cornwall, England right after I finish this post. We have had a fabulous time touring Eastern and Central Europe these last 7 weeks!
We were listening to a Rick Steve's podcast - he's like the Scott Kelby of travel - and he commented that it would be a grand adventure to tour the three great cities of the Habsburg Empire, Budapest, Hungary; Vienna, Austria; and Prague, Czech Republic
We hit the trifecta and visited all three on our journeys. In fact, over the last 7 weeks we have traversed nearly 3000 miles of the beautiful countryside visiting many of the most historic and scenic parts of Europe. What an experience!
A Trip To The Musical Capital Of The World and It Isn’t Nashville!
Anyway, let me re-cap our quick two day visit to Vienna. This was our second trip to Vienna since we arrived in Budapest way back on September 8. We made the day trip with the Master Class during our first week in Europe. This time we got a chance to better explore the city and it's exciting offerings.
Once we landed - we were staying at the Hilton Danube Hotel, a 5 star hotel (it's good to have all those Hilton Honors points built up over the years ;~) The hotel was just a short distance via underground to Old Town, the hub of Vienna.
We quickly learned how to navigate the underground, purchased our tickets, and were on our way within minutes after check-in to our hotel. While traveling down the tracks we weren't quite sure of the stop we needed to exit so we asked a friendly police officer for assistance. He offered much more than simple directions. He showed us a short-cut and gave us a "police escort" through our train change and then directly to where we wanted to be - pretty nice of him.
I wanted to check out the famous 144 year old Vienna State Opera. You simply can't go to Vienna without seeing one of the world's epic enters of music. Mozart, Strauss, Wagner - all those guys worked this house, and we wanted to be part of that history!
Of course all performances have been sold out for weeks but the street scalpers were happy to oblige you with a ticket. After a little “wheeling and dealing” we had our two tickets to the opera Der Rosenkavalier for not more than a regular tour of the Opera House would have cost us. This Richard Strauss opera is very popular and widely performed around the world. We even manage to acquire box seats. Now that sounds great on the surface, but please read on.
Box seats are great if you are in the first row but not so good if you are in the second row - if you get my drift. We had to stand the entire performance just to see the performers as our box was to the side. The good news is that the boxes come with personal "subtitles" screens built right in. We were lucky enough to have one of the three patrons in front of us tuned to "English" so we were able to follow along quite easily.
View from our box seats above – not too bad ;~)
LaDawn and I have not been to many operas but the experience of seeing and hearing an opera in the largest opera house in all of Europe with such a rich musical history was a genuine treat. It was a late night including the 2 1/2 hour performance and two intermissions with us arriving back to our hotel about 11:30 p.m.
More Castle Hopping – On To The Habsburg’s Summer Cottage – Not!
Nevertheless we were off and running fairly early the next morning planning to visit the 1,441 room Schönbrunn Palace, the summer residence of the Habsburgs. The Habsburg Empire reigned for nearly 700 years so this castle was pretty important to see for history buffs like LaDawn and myself.
The tour was fun and informative with our English speaking guide who added lots of detail and color as she shared the story from the reign of the Habsburgs.
Show Me The Good Stuff!
Next it was off to the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna’s Museum of Fine Art. This museum is simply spectacular both in design and in the scope, depth, and range of its collections. The museum was as spectacular in design and beauty as were the master pieces of the collections. You simple can't make it through all the collections in one day - simply unbelievable!!!!
It was a busy week and we figure we walked about 60 miles for the week and we were wiped out by the end of our museum tour. We decided to head back to the hotel and grab dinner there. I know, the travel purists reading this post think we must have been crazy to have a hotel dinner while in Vienna, but the strategy was perfect for we chatted with the entire hotel staff - always a pleasure for me to connect with the locals - enjoyed a very nice dinner watching the not-so-blue Danube River gently roll by and more importantly grabbed a chance to relax.
It was an early night for both of us as we drug our exhausted walked-weary bodies back to our room, enjoyed a brief nightcap and hit the sack. The big challenge for us the next day was repacking our bags - nearly 200 pounds worth of luggage - for the flight to England. We managed and were on our way back to Budapest arriving to an easy check-in with a very friendly British Air agent - what a relief for that.
I've put together a small album of photos from the Vienna leg of our journeys below. Please enjoy – David
Hey gang, that's it for me today.
After we get settled in our new hotel/apartment in Cornwall, I’ll follow up with two more posts about our travels to Prague and Germany which happened prior to our Vienna visit. The lack of free time has created a small problem getting these posts up.
Have a great rest of the day.
See you soon, David