Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Magic of Vienna on Viking Cruises

Whether or not we’ve ever written it down, we all have a bucket list. Those lists consist of places we hope to go. Many of us dream about these places, while others make it their life’s mission to travel to them.

I’ve actually got two lists, though neither one is on paper. One is of places I wish to explore and the other is of places I just need to get to in order to see if the magic is really there. 

The latter list includes places such as Paris, Rome, and London, all of which I’ve been to. There’s one place I hadn’t visited until I arrived on my Viking River Cruise. That place is Vienna.

It was cool and foggy when my friend Tracy and I arrived in Vienna, Austria. The buses were waiting to take us on a tour of this city that played such a major part in the world war. 

Vienna had come out the other side and become a spot of history and culture, with former homes of Mozart, Beethoven, and even Sigmund Freud throughout the city.

The tour took us to some of the highlights of the city, including the Prunksaa State Hall, the Spanish Riding School where the Tribute to Vienna Horse Show is, the Palace of Justice, the Parliament, and a few of the many incredible Gothic cathedrals.

We were both impressed with the architectural displays in the city as well as the culture. Museums, music venues, opera and ballet houses were all in abundance. The city is as vibrant and impressive as Paris or London, even though it doesn’t have an Eiffel Tower or Big Ben.

We finished the tour downtown with lots of time on our own to explore. Tracy and I first headed for some shopping at the flagship Swarovski store, where I picked up some gifts that could only be purchased here.  There is certainly no shortage of shopping in Vienna, but we wanted to do more.

Tracy and I decided to spend some time at one of the many museums. We chose Albertina and it was a wonderful choice. This art museum had some of the most magnificent collections I’d seen anywhere, including selections from Monet, Picasso, Matisse, and more.  It was unbelievable to be able to see so many renowned artists at once.

We also had lunch at the Café at Albertina Museum. I had a wonderful pumpkin soup and roasted potatoes, while Tracy enjoyed salad and quiche.

Before we returned to the ship for dinner, we stopped at two of the 21 Christmas Markets in Vienna. 

This city certainly has more markets with even more items than any of the others did. In fact, there was one market dedicated to crafts alone, and another had mostly meats, fish, and cheese.

I didn’t purchase much at the markets, with the exception of one of the giant Bavarian pretzels which looked (and tasted) irresistible.

We had an early dinner back on the Viking Embla because there was a very special night ahead. 

The river cruise line had arranged an exclusive performance for us at the Vienna Opera House. It was a selection of opera, ballet, and classical with some of the House’s best performers. It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience to be there experiencing something like that.

When we returned to the ship, the Viking Embla chef had prepared a delicious Beef Goulash soup for us, along with some Austrian wine that was waiting. After it warmed us up from the cool night air, Tracy and I headed to our stateroom to rest up for the day ahead in Slovenia. 

*Christmas in August? Yes! I was running a bit behind and I decided to just save my Viking River Christmas Market Cruise report until July. After all it’s a perfect time to start thinking about booking one of your own while the prices are low!

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