day 3 – Vienna

Joe and our tour guide Kati.

Joe and our tour guide Kathi.

Today is our first full (and last) day in Vienna. Paris gets all the press as the cultural capital of Europe but one could make a very strong case for Vienna as an equal or greater. In addition to the titans of classical music, Vienna can claim the likes of Sigmund Freud and Gustav Klimt among many, many others. And of course there are the Hapsburgs who merely shaped the course of a few centuries of European history (and therefore the direction of world events).

Our guide for the duration of the tour is Kathi (pronounced “kah-tee”), a German national from a tiny town in Bavaria, southern Germany. This is her fifth season, i.e. year, as a tour guide and like any good tour guide, Kathi is friendly and approachable as well as erudite. In addition to her native German, she speaks four (!) other languages: English of course, Spanish, French, and Italian and holds advanced degrees in Romance languages and philology from Heidelberg University. Phew!

Two of the high points of our day were Schönbrunn Palace, The Hapsburg’s summer “cottage” with 1500 rooms, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum, easily one of the finest and best curated art museums in the world (Helayna Thickpenny is in her element!). As for Schönbrunn Palace, it boggles the mind, for instance, to be standing in the very room Napolean once used as an office.

Tomorrow? Innsbruck via Salzburg!

~ Ken

Inside the dome of the Cathedral of Salzburg.

Inside the dome of the Cathedral of Salzburg.

The opera in Vienna was the highlight of the trip so far. The tenor and soprano had voices
beyond compare. Nemorino’s aria, “Una furtiva lagrima” brought down the house – the audience’s attention during the aria was something I’d never experienced before – everyone was rapt with appreciation of the emotion and flawless beauty of the song. Truly an unforgettable experience.

~ Rachel