We have recently returned from a two-week tour of Vienna (and surrounding area) with Tim and Janice, close friends of ours, and led by Bill and Mim, Janice's parents. Bill is a retired music prof, and has been leading this tour for the past 35 years. The tour focused on music, art history, and culture, and also included lots of excellent food, some time to relax and explore the city, and a couple of days in the Alps. Over the next few weeks, we'll be sharing our experience with daily posts, so keep checking back to see how our trip unfolded.
A comment on the title: one thing that both Dave and Natasha were excited about was the chance to try a foreign language, in this case German. In Natasha's case, she has lived in both German- and Dutch-speaking countries, and was happy to find that her conversational skills returned quickly. As for Dave, he has been madly cramming nouns and verbs from a phrasebook he received from the Tim and Janice last Christmas, and was happy to find that he didn't make a complete fool of himself in using this phrasebook-German at every opportunity (or, if he did, that the Viennese people he encountered were very nice about it).
One of the first things we did upon arriving in Vienna was go on a bus tour around the city, which helped orient us and gave us a sense of the city's history and architecture. Here are some of the highlights:
A monument thanking God for ending the plague which struck Vienna in the 1600's. The monument is in the middle of the Graben, a pedestrian thoroughfare near our hotel.
An impressive fountain near the Albertina Museum, which is between our hotel and the Staatsopera.
The balcony of a museum on the Heldenplatz (Heroes' Plaza), where Hitler gave a speech after Austria was annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938.
The Danube canal, which runs through Vienna and makes the city "flood-proof" (according to our bus-tour guide).
A view of the Danube river (and canal), from a revolving cafe midway up the Danube Tower.
Standing outside the Secession art museum. The Secession movement was a reaction to the conservative attitude towards art in the early 1900's, led by artists Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, and the architect Otto Wagner.
The Staatsopera (State Opera) house, where our group saw several operas over the week. As for the two of us, Dave saw An Italian in Algiers, and Natasha went to La Traviata.
Stephansdom (St. Stephan's Cathedral), which is at the end of the Graben, with its distinctive patterned roof. We climbed the tower later that week -- stay tuned for pictures from the top.
A merry-go-round just outside Stephansdom. Sam rode this later in the week -- again, pictures and video are coming soon!
Up next: Our visit to Hundertwasser Haus.