Leaving Bratislava, Slovakia on board, we attended the Captain’s Dinner and that night we passed through border formalities in Vienna, Austria.
A little bit of history… Vienna or Wein is the capital of Austria. It is the political, economic, cultural and intellectual hub of Austria. Originally a Celtic settlement, Vienna (then called Vindobona) became an important Roman military and commercial center. After the Romans withdrew in the 4th century, it rapidly changed hands among invaders. The biggest danger was posed by the Ottoman Turks, who besieged the city in 1528 and 1683, reputedly bringing with them a strange brew called “coffee”. The withdrawal of the Turks by a combined force of German and Polish soldiers resulted in the triumphant frenzy of buildings in Vienna, which gave the city its famous barouque face.
On March 15, 1938, Adolf Hitler triumphantly entered Vienna. The occupation lasted until 1945· Since the Iron Curtain came tumbling down in 1989, Vienna has found a new sense of purpose, as a gateway city to Central and Eastern Europe. It is also known as the musical capital of the world with Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, Beethoven and Schubert calling the city their home.
On with our tour…
After breakfast we enjoyed a motorcoach tour of Vienna including the Ringstrasse, probably the greatest achievement of the Emperor Franz Joseph. We also toured St. Stephen Cathedral. St. Stephen Cathedral houses Austria’s largest bell, cast from Turkish guns left behind after the great siege of 1683.
We also enjoyed a ride on the Riesenrad, Prater Park’s giant ferris wheel built in 1897, the oldest and the largest in the world.
We then visited the world-famous Weiner Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera) which was inaugurated in 1869 with a performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni.
Vienna without music would not be Vienna, so that evening, we enjoyed unforgettable performances in one of Vienna’s beautiful palaces, the Liechtenstein Palais. The performances featured historic costumes, famous singers like Monika Mosser (mezzosoprano)and Sylvia Schramm (soprano) and ballet performances. Since we cannot take pictures inside the palace, I kept the magazine/program so I can remember how magnificent that night was!
I fell in love with Vienna right away! It must be the combination of the city’s history, architecture, music and all the rich chocolate pastries and candies I had been eating. What an enchanting city!