Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 7
Having a ball
Destination for our concert - Italian style The
Kursalon - at the end of city park, next to the famous golden Strauss statue.
Concerts have been held here for many years. Many were conducted by the Big
Daddy of the waltz Johann Strauss and his brother Eduard. A very enjoyable 4
course meal and coffee. Good conversation with many laughs too. Rajiv, Uma and
Vandana from America and Irene from Saskatoon were great company.
The lady attendant sat outside the toilet looked as though
she had been there since Johann's productive years. Her companion looked even
older - surely not her mum?. Her name was Heidi.Should have been called Hide
her away - unsmiling, unkempt hair and a chin worthy of an Olympic ski jump!
‘Eine Kleine Nachtmusik’ always makes me smile and
reminisce. It was the first piece of classical music I ever studied at
Armthorpe High School. And for a brief moment - two crotchets and a quaver - I
felt myself back in 1A1 being taught by Ms Dewse our music teacher. A Little
Night music was truly apt on this night of big music.
The singers were excellent with great voices and great
personalities. ‘On the Beautiful Blue Danube’ is my favourite waltz.
Spectacularly danced. And was that, maybe a slight tear of joy trickling down
my left cheek? Oh yes, music can be so moving.
A truly wonderful evening. Once again Trafalgar and Paul had
excelled. The best seats in the house, champagne in the interval and door to
door travel courtesy of the amazing Gabor. A night to remember forever.
Schonbrunn Palace is the former imperial summer palace of
the Habsburg dynasty. Originally a shooting lodge it was named after a spring
found on the site. It was commissioned by Emperor Leopold for son Josef. Paris
has Versailles, Schonbrunn is Vienna's answer. Equally as magnificent, 20
minutes drive from the city, 435 acres in total and 10,000 visitors each day -
we arrived early to beat the crowds.
Schonbrunn yellow is a lovely colour, a light yellow ochre.
This big yellow palace is a gorgeous, 574 feet / 175 metres wide. The Great
Gallery is superb, a fine setting for state banquets. Don't forget to look at
the ceiling. The Bohemian crystal chandeliers light up the paintings on the
wall. Delicate golf leaf is everywhere as is Rococo style, Chinoisere lacquer
and ceilings frescoed to within an inch.
Mozart, him again, gave a concert here at the tender age of 6 in the Mirror Room - a clear reflection of what was to come from this genius.
The public can visit 40 out of the 1441 rooms on the Grand Tour. 22 on the Imperial tour included in our Trafalgar trip. The gardens are spectacular. Floral patterns everywhere.
The Gloriette sits as the crowning glory on a hill
overlooking the palace and gardens. It's a bit of a hike up the hill but worth
Emperor Franz Joseph was born here in 1830 and died here at
the age of 86. Hatched and dispatched at Schonbrunn. He was the longest
ruling emperor in the Habsburg dynasty. He was a bit of a lad. 15
grandchildren, 55 great grandchildren and these were the legitimate ones. 68
years on the throne and by the look of it plenty of time in bed too.
Vineyards grow in and around the heart of the city. In days
of old Schonbrunn's gardens were used to produce wine. The famous Vienna Woods
are well known too for producing superb wines. And today's optional excursion -
A visit to the scene of a double tragedy. Crown Prince
Rudolf and his lover, 17 year old Mary committed suicide at Mayerling hunting
lodge. It is now a convent.
Then onto Baden - so good they named it only once - a hot
springs destination since Roman times. Wallow in mud and smelly sulphur-tinged
water. Rheumatics leave rejuvenated and our group returned to Vienna having had
a very good excursion.
Tram 71 took us from our hotel into the city centre. All the
trams are being replaced by more modern energy efficient trams designed by
Porsche and it was nice to travel in comfort.
An afternoon of leisure. Cake, coffee, more cake and
shopping. The main shopping is known as The Golden Quarter or Golden U. Close
to the Hofburg Palace we strolled through the fully pedestrianised Karntner
Strasse, Kohlmarket and Graben.
Demel was once confectioner and cake maker to the Imperial
court. The cafe has been here since 1888. Lovely elegant and ornate and full of
cake. The ever changing window display is good enough to eat. Edible art,
surely the best type of art, and so much better than ‘Summer’ and ‘Water’
Demel employ only female staff dressed in smart black and
white uniforms. Our waitress looked like Rosa Klebb, the Bond villain. I half
expected her to cut our cake with the blade hidden in her shoe! Nice cake and a
nice smile, when she did smile.
Gothic St Stephen's Cathedral is probably Vienna's most well-known
landmark. Almost slap bang in the centre of the Old Town. Entry is free through
the left door, 7 euros if you enter through the right. A quarter of a million
coloured tiles cover the roof.
Head for the 7th floor of the department store Steffl and
its Sky bar for an amazing view of the roof. Well worth the price of a drink.
The night before we left home we heard about the death of a
wonderful friend. Inside the cathedral we both lit candles and said a prayer
for our wonderful time together. Ironically Joan died of heart failure. But
Joan you had a big heart which never failed you. You gave generously and this
chapter is dedicated to you. God Bless. It has been a true privilege to have
shared your company through many happy years.
Trzesniewski is a wonderful sandwich shop. Very popular with the locals. A bit of a squeeze to get in and find a table but the food, canapes style sandwiches are excellent. Not far from the Cathedral.
The coffee at Cafe Mozart was exquisite. A great place to
chill and people watch. Welcome to the world of apple strudel. Taste buds in
harmony. A cafe has been on this spot since 1794. Family run now. Linger here
and while away time. Delicate and delicious coffee smell - roasted to
Around the corner is the five star Sacher Hotel, home of
Sacher Torte. Chocolate cake so rich and stuffed with apricot jam - a winning
but slightly sickly combo. The cake at Demel was lighter.
360,000 pieces of Sacher Torte are hand-made each year - too
much for even this diabetic. It is still made using the 1832 recipe. Apparently
the secret to its success is in the combination of different
chocolates used in the icing though I still prefer a big bar of Galaxy (other
chocolate is available).
Paul gave us a wonderful tip which I pass onto you, but do
keep it secret. The Sacher hotel is really fabulous. Pop in for a look and a
bit of a wander. Head for the Blue Room. It is beautiful. Unknown by the
tourists. Babs and I spent 30 minutes listening to classical music, eating cake
and drinking tea and coffee brought by a lovely girl. We had the room to
ourselves and felt like royalty and were treated as though we were. Personal
attention in an exquisite room. Outside thousands
of tourists milling around, in here quiet only slightly broken by the music in
the background. One of my favourite songs came on. ‘Time to Say Goodbye’ sung
by Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. A fitting end to our visit to this
We have loved our time here in Vienna. You could say we have
had a ball. A perfect city. Perfect weather too has added to our enjoyment. We
are sad to leave this beautiful place, return we surely will one day, but
reluctantly we must leave.
Budapest beckons and you know what they say "If you are
hungry head for Hungary". Not that we are.
Danke Vienna. Auf wiedersehen pet.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Trafalgar
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 1 - preparing to travel
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 2 - a stunning city and new friends
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 3 - a guided walk and music by candlelight
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 4 - city wonders and cafe life
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 5 - Vienna bound
- Trafalgar Tours - Prague, Vienna and Budapest: Chapter 6 - a Viennese whirl