We arrived in Vienna in the morning on the overnight train from Florence. We went to the meeting hotel for our river cruise to leave our luggage prior to transferring to the ship and headed to do some exploring of Vienna on our own.
It was agreed that a trip on the Vienna Ring Tram along the Ringstrasse Blvd. which circles around the Old City and had a narrated commentary would be good to orientate ourselves with Vienna and some of it’s history. After that we walked through Vienna stopping along the way for lunch at an outside cafe. We were to meet back at the hotel to transfer to the ship with all of the other passengers. We were scheduled to board our cruise ship in Vienna but due to low water conditions of the river, and the cruise line needing to do some shifting of passengers from the previous week for completion of their cruise, we were bussed to Komarno, Hungary to board our ship which would sail back down the Danube to Vienna…..bonus for us, extra sailing and we didn’t miss a thing on our itinerary! The cruise line was very efficient and organized in handling this situation which was totally out of their control and also offered all passengers the opportunity to attend the following nights opera concert in Vienna free of charge due to the inconvenience. Upon boarding and being shown to our staterooms we attended the mustering drill and then the Captains Welcome dinner and we were sailing!
We arrived back in Vienna the following morning and began our morning with a city bus and walking tour along with some free time. We passed many historical sites and caught a glimpse of the Lipizzaner stallions from the Spanish Riding School. We also learned that every New Years Eve at midnight the Blue Danube Waltz is played throughout the city and everyone grabs someone and dances the Blue Danube Waltz. They even hold classes to learn this dance so that everyone can participate in this tradition. After a bit of a chilly walk our group wanted to warm up and experience a Viennese coffee house…..along with a pastry of course.
We chose the well known Cafe Sacher for our coffee house experience. This coffee house is located across from the Vienna Opera House and is known for making the original Sacher-Torte, a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam between the cake layers and topped with a decadent chocolate icing……which of course I had to try and thoroughly enjoyed, others decided on an apple strudel. This cake has been made since 1832 and the original recipe is a well kept secret. You will find many copies of this cake being made but you can only get the original at the Hotel or Cafe Sacher. There were many choices for coffee and all were served with a small glass of water (as I had indicated in my earlier coffee blog) which is traditional.
This was a great way to warm up and enjoy the coffee house ambience. We then returned to the ship for a quick lunch and then we were off for a very extensive tour of the Ottakringer Brewery followed by a beer tasting with pretzels of course! Our river cruise was a Beer Theme Cruise which included many extra tours and onboard options that were available for all passengers at no additional cost. Back to the ship for dinner and then off for a night at the opera. I must admit I don’t normally listen to classical music, nor do I know much about it, but it was a very enjoyable evening full of aria’s, ballet, operetta’s and a little comedy as well.