Day three on the ship dawned warmer and sunny and once again it was continental breakfast in the Aquavit Terrace. Today some could slept later as the first excursion to Vienna didn’t leave the ship till 9:15am. It was fun sipping coffee with new friends and watching as we made our way through another of the locks on the Danube. We went through our second lock of the trip. This time I could stand outside on the top deck and Captain Gabor was there to explain what was going on as we went through it.
At 9:15am, on schedule, we left the ship and boarded the waiting busses to go into Vienna. Viking does a great job with this. If you are traveling with friends they make sure you are all on the same bus and all of us were. We began our tour with a drive around the Ring Strasse. We drove by the Prater amusement park and saw some interesting parts of Vienna on our way to the Volks Park where we got off the busses to begin our walking tour. I have been to Vienna before and my mom had been born there, leaving at the age of fourteen to escape the Nazis. My first time there was in 1968 and reminders of the war were everywhere. That has changed today. Back then all the statues in the Park were still toppled over and today they were all fixed and cleaned. It looks like all of Vienna has been spruced up. We went on a walk around what is called District 1, the city center. We walked by palaces, the Opera, some museums and past the stables of the Lipizzaner Horses. Our guide was great and kept up a wonderful fount of information telling us about each building we passed. We got lucky and the world famous Lipizzaner horses were being taken out of their stalls by their trainers and walked right by us. They are truly beautiful animals.
While we were a little too early to hear the Sunday concert by the world famous Vienna Boys Choir we did see some of the boys and they were charming and posed for pictures for our group. Then it was off to the final stop on the walking tour the beautiful St. Stephens Cathedral with its beautiful alters and stained glass. From here we had an hour to ourselves before we again met our guide and got back on the bus to return to the ship. We spent that hour drinking delicious Viennese coffee in a café on the sixth floor of a hotel opposite the cathedral. There were many opportunities for afternoon walks around Vienna and you could take one of the great excursions Viking had set up including those to Shonbrunn Palace or another to listen to a wonderful concert in a salon where Mozart himself once gave a recital. Others like myself who had been to Vienna just relaxed on the ship in the afternoon drinking tea or coffee, having cocktails or just chatting with new friends. With only 189 people on the ship it is easy and fun to meet many of them.
The ship was scheduled to leave the dock at exactly midnight so everyone was told they had to be back by 11:45 pm or be left behind. In order to make it convenient for everyone, except for the hardworking crew, Viking arranged for two dinner seatings, one at 5:30 and one at 7:30 pm and even had a goulash soup available for those coming back to the ship after 10:00pm. We were quickly reminded there was no way anyone was going to go hungry on a Viking cruise.
For those staying on the ship all evening Dawn, the program director, announced a game of ‘Name that Tune’ in the lounge. People put together teams and chose names for them and Dawn played parts of 20 different songs and the team who could identify the most, writing them on a pad to be turned in to Dawn, would be the winners. My group chose the name the DC Bloviators, the reason for the name too complicated for this short blog, but as it turned out we won and the prize was two bottles of champagne. It was a little unfair as we had a DJ and former band manager on our team but as they say all’s fair in love, war and name that tune.
The time on the VAR thus far has been totally relaxing which is exactly what one wants when sailing up the beautiful Danube River. Dawn informed us that tomorrow’s tours would again begin earlier at around 8:15. Day three ended with happy faces all around.
Tags: Danube Cruise, Lipizzaner horses, Vienna