Day 3 in Vienna:
After a fun night out with everyone in Vienna, waking up was slightly difficult. Luckily, there was an endless amount of coffee at breakfast and, somehow, my cup kept refilling itself when I wasn’t looking. (Why can’t this stuff happen in real life?!)
After inhaling breakfast and chugging coffee, we all picked up our receivers and headsets and got off the boat to load the buses. The first half of the day, we would be spending on a walking/bus tour of Wien. (Wien=Vienna)
We were able to see the outside of the Vienna Opera House, the Hofburg Palace, and the beautiful St. Stephen’s Cathedral.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is known for its intricately tiled roof and its nearly 500-foot-tall South Tower (the highest point in the skyline of Vienna’s inner city). A few of us decided to pay the 5 Euros and climb the spiral staircase to the tippy-tippy-top to check out the views.
We climbed the 343 steps of the extremely tight, spiral staircase that led up to the watchman’s lookout 246 feet above street level. Normally, I tend to feel claustrophobic in such small places. But there were tiny windows every couple of feet or so. So I took it slow and steady and made my way up.
It was also a really good workout. By the time I reached the top, I was sweating buckets. Fortunately, there were large windows up at the top. So there was a nice breeze as we got to admire the city views.
Once we had returned to the ground level, we all had worked up quite an appetite. Fortunately, our tour guide was taking us back to the cruise for a “Sky Bistro” where we got to enjoy a grilled lunch on the Sky Deck.
We needed to fuel up because the second half of the day, we decided to take an excursion to the Schönburn Palace. This palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg family.
While the land was purchased back in the 1500s with the intention to serve as a recreational hunting ground, the Schönbrunn Palace – in its present form – was built and remodeled during the 1740–50s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding gift.
Our tour was heavily focused on the accomplishments of Maria Theresa. She was the only female ruler and the last ruler of the Habsburg family. She was the sovereign of Austria and Hungary and, by marriage, she was the Duchess of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany, and the Holy Roman Empress.
Maria Theresa had sixteen kids – which is a crazy accomplishment of its own. In addition to strategizing wars and tackling her responsibilities, she also was very strategic about marrying off her kids so that it would benefit the state. She used them as pawns to gain power and privilege.
Maria Theresa provided education for serfs, created unified judicial code that was the foundation for many of today’s central European laws, created a professional army, and enforced the German language as the only acceptable language of communication. Still, she did all this because she was motivated by political and economic advantage.
Many can argue that she was crazy and controlling. Others will argue that her actions improved the empire significantly. One thing is certain though. After her forty years reign, Maria Theresa left behind an empire that influenced the rest of Europe throughout the 1800s. Pretty darn impressive for being a woman during that time.
Back to the Boat
After a day of frolicking and galavanting around Vienna, we boarded the buses to head back to the cruise for dinner. While there were many more highlights to come during our trip, I was happy that we spent two days in Vienna. We were able to experience both the historical sites and also the modern city life and night life.
Similar to my feelings about Budapest, I could have happily spent many more days exploring the beautiful city. Still, I am so glad we were able to see as much as we did in such a short amount of time.
As we sailed off to Dürnstein that night, we kissed Vienna goodbye with a vow to be back in the future.
Questions of the Day:
- What is one city that you would like to go back to and explore deeper?
- If you’ve been to Vienna, what was your favorite thing you did/saw?