Day 8: Vienna in Prague and the Danube Travel Log

Revised: 09/05/2022 2:25 a.m.

  • Aug. 16, 2022, 1 a.m.
  • |
  • Public

This was our full day in Vienna. We signed up for a longer version of the tour we did on our honeymoon. Our group was small because it costs extra, with only 7 people, which made it easy to hop on the U-bahn as a group. We actually went to Donauinsel on the other side of where our ship docked first, and took the U-bahn from there. With such a small group, it was qualitatively different from the tours our shipmates were taking, even if we were seeing some of the same sights. We ran into some of them at the Plague column and it struck me how much easier it was to ask questions or advice from the guide if there were only 6 other people in the group, instead of several dozen. I was still entertaining the option to go on the ferris wheel after the tour, but, upon learning of my thinking, the guide quickly dissuaded me from doing that, citing how many school children there will be and how much it will cost. In retrospect, going to Musikverein was a much better choice.

The tour involved taking the metro to Stephansplatz (our shipmates were taking the bus, which would add tens of minutes to their travel time), and walking through Burggarten the to the Hofsburg complex, then visiting the museum of fine arts, eating lunch there, then to Michaelerplatz to take a fiaker ride around the city hall and Burgtheatre before turning back to Stephanplatz.

The guide was a bit of a history and art buff, which made him a great Vienna guide. We could point out interesting buildings or statues on the way, and he could explain in detail his opinion on the subject. In the museum of fine art he would take us to the pieces that he considered the most important. It wasn’t anywhere near the size of the Met, but I could spend a whole day, maybe two there if I wanted to see everything. The lunch was so-so; it wasn’t helped by the fact that the waiter mis-interpreted La Professeure’s request for her dish to be vegetarian as requesting all our dishes to be vegetarian.

We took a fiaker ride afterwards from Michaelerplatz back to St Stephen’s. We learned that some of the guests on our tour took this excursion because they wanted to ride it. I was kind of worried about it since I was familiar with horse-drawn carriages back when I used to ride around central park: you can tell you’re near Central Park South by the smell; I couldn’t imagine being drawn by one. But I was surprised that these Viennese horses don’t smell - they must use some sort of cleaning system on them. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to ride the carriages because it was a warm day, and local law prohibits their operation above 35 degrees. After the ride, and feeling how sweaty the horses were, I felt that 35 degrees was really not enough; 30 would have been more reasonable. I hope they get replaced by electric rickshaws eventually, which we saw some in operation. The carriages block traffic too, but I later realized that that was the point - it’s so we could take our time to take in the sights.

The tour was officially over after the fiaker ride, but the guide took us inside St Stephan’s cathedral. There was artwork and history he wanted to share. It was… big. We then split with the group - the rest of the group would hang around for an hour and then go back with the guide, but I wanted to go to Musikverein for a concert that night, so I stayed in the city center. La Prof had bad shoes on but insisted on coming with me, so we went to a department store to look for shoes, but instead went to the rooftop bar to cool down. Then she decided she was going to go back to the ship afterall. So she came with me to the State opera to take the obligatory picture, then went back to the ship. I continued to Karlplatz after finding out where Musikverein was, and then walked along ring strasse in the other direction to Stadtpark.

After dinner at Nordsee fastfood on Karntner Strasse, I went to Musikverein to get tickets. It took extra long because three young women in front of me were spending a good 5 minutes holding up the line, debating (in Chinese) the relative merits of the sections of the seats and negotiating (in English) with the ticket agent where their seats can be located. After seeing the line getting impatient and me rolling my eyes, the ticket agent subtly asked them to hurry up with the decision. The concert itself was great. We were at the small (Brahms) hall, which was beautifully decorated, with 600 seats, but was only half full. It was evident that, unfortunately, most people were tourists. The level of musicianship was high though. They played a Mozart quartet, a Haydn quartet, and the four seasons. The acoustic of the hall is so good that a quartet and a continuo could sound like a chamber orchestra, and when the half-full hall applauded it sounded like it was from a full house. Unfortunately it also amplified people’s phones or programs dropping on the floor, children getting bored, or just tourists talking during the music. I think the musicians were not amused.

After the concert, I took the U-bahn back to the ship. (La Professeure used Google Maps). From the subway, it was a 5 minutes walk to the cruise terminal - it was a bit of a maze to get there, but I managed to read enough of the road signs to find my way - but our ship was docked at the furthest berth, so it took another 5 minutes to walk there. Walking along the cruise ship center, I got to peek into other cruise ships. I was shocked that there are six Viking ships all moored here now.

Last updated September 05, 2022

You must be logged in to comment. Please sign in or join Prosebox to leave a comment.