Do I Hear a Waltz?

We’re back in Vienna! This is a fascinating city and a Mecca for music lovers.

Mass at St. Stephan’s

We started our day with another bus tour. It was cold and rainy, so I was happy that most of the sights were seen from the inside the bus. We did get off for a walking tour of the Hofburg, the Imperial Palace of Vienna, and some free time to wander around Stephansplatz and St. Stephan’s Cathedral. The Cathedral is gorgeous and, because it’s Sunday, there was a mass in progress when we entered. We heard the organ and an orchestra accompany the choir during the service and it was lovely. Just as in Milan, no one seems to care that tourists are wandering and snapping photos in the back of the church during mass.

Christmas Market

We then went to a cafe to get warm and have some coffee. We had been told many times about the cafe culture in Vienna and how you just have to order one coffee and you’re welcome to stay for hours, if you want. I had a Melange (cappuccino) and Paul had a Verlängerter. Paul also ordered a Sachertorte because he had heard so much about it (I had just one forkful of his). I could happily have stayed there all day with a book. I think someone should open a Viennese coffee house in Brunswick, where folks could sit all day with a cup of coffee and the newspaper, or talk with friends while Viennese waltzes play in the background. Just an idea for some of my entrepreneurial friends.

Skaters at the Christmas Market

We returned to the ship where we were again greeted by staff handing out chocolates. We opted for lunch on the terrace rather than in the restaurant because I was feeling the need for lighter fare. (I’m especially enjoying the soups.) We had a little free time after lunch and then we boarded another bus to go to one of the huge Christmas markets in Vienna. Every city we’ve visited on this trip seemed to be constructing Christmas markets, but this is the first time we saw one that was actually open for business. This one had stall after stall of food and drink, crafts and gifts. The most amazing thing was the skating rink. It wasn’t the ordinary, large rectangular or oval sheet of ice; it was a series of ice pathways, almost like a labyrinth, that skaters could glide through. It wasn’t a place for figure skaters to show off their skills, but it looked like a lot of fun.

The view from our seats at the Vienna State Opera

In the evening, we went to the Vienna State Opera to see Salome. I will admit that Salome is not my favorite opera, but this was a memorable performance. Of the three operas we saw on this trip, this was without a doubt the best. The orchestra was excellent (Paul loved the tuba) and the singing was exquisite, especially (as bizarre as this may sound) when Salome was singing to the severed head of John the Baptist. And we had an unobstructed view from the balcony, which made using my new opera glasses (gift from the teachers at BRHS) a pleasure.

Tomorrow we dock at the town of Krems in Lower Austria.

A little side note: I’m quite a bit behind in uploading pictures to the photos pages of this blog. Internet is sketchy on the ship and I barely manage to upload a few pictures for the posts. The others may have to wait until we get home.