VIENNA, Austria– Check off another city on my to-visit list. The lovely city of Vienna, Austria. I had never been to this famous city of Strauss, Mozart and Beethoven and so was pleased to learn that we were going to spend a couple of days here at the beginning of our river cruise.
Yesterday morning we flew from Amsterdam to Vienna and boarded Uniworld’s River Duchess at about 1 p.m. Everything went perfectly, from the airport pick-up and transfer, to the lovely glass of complimentary wine with lunch, to our safety briefing, to our first dinner where I had streudel for dessert, of course.
I don’t know why, but for some reason I was not expecting to find so many other river boats here. I had not considered that Vienna is visited on both north- and southbound Danube River itineraries.
Walking along the pier, we saw the Viking Prestige, the Viking Odin and the Viking Bolero (the latter two are among Viking’s brand new vessels). Rafted next to us was the Swiss Diamond. Others moored here included the Beethoven, the Da Vinci and the Prinzessin Katharina and another Uniworld vessel, the River Beatrice. The River Cloud II went by us on the water. Today most of those are gone and another group is here. What a nice boost to the city’s tourism!We have made a few discoveries already about our fellow passengers. Most are from somewhere other than North America…so far we have met Brits, Scots, Australians and we know there are some New Zealanders and South Africans aboard. This will make for lots of interesting conversation. Also, about 20 or so have been on e the ship for two weeks already, sailing the portion from Amsterdam to Vienna.
So this morning, there were two city tours offered: A basic tour for those who had not been here before and a second focusing on art for those who had. We joined the basic tour which first drove us by all of the major buildings and then walked us to the Austrian National Library.
The State Hall of this library is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful historical libraries in the world. I have toured churches, opera houses and government buildings the world over and few are as impressive as this. It was built in the 1700s and its collection of leather-bound volumes date back that far as well. Frescos and paintings adorn the walls and ceilings and beautiful original walnut woodwork glows in the low light. Nowadays 200,000 books printed in the years 1501-1850 are stored in the State Hall.
Like many folks, I tired of BOBs (“big old buildings”) when on tour but I am certainly glad I saw this one.We then were on our own in the city center where we could enjoy the coffeehouses, the pedestrian malls and the general ambiance of this relatively small city.
There is only one snag: The temps are soaring. Europe is having a heat wave and we were ready to return to the cool of our ship for a quiet lunch. However, we will be ready to head out tomorrow when we go to the markets.
June 29, 2012
Photos by Chet Janssens