By Beth Friedman
I had a brief but passionate winter fling with the city of Vienna. It was a whirlwind romance lasting less than 36 hours, but like most relationships that burn quickly, it left a lasting impression on me. Since it’s Valentine’s day, I’ll describe my time in this romantic city like a speed-date that included a long walk, a little something sweet (spiked of course), intelligent conversation about books and art, window shopping and of course some extremely romantic and moving music.
Our ambitious day began at the gothic and grand St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which is a good place to start in Vienna because of it’s central location in the city. Next, we headed to Mozart’s House to see where and how this iconic music legend lived. Followed by a quick visit to MUMOK – Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien (with incredible exhibitions that included pieces from artists like Rothko to Jackson Pollack to Monet to a variety of collections in a variety of mediums). We would’ve like to have seen more at MUMOK, but we chose to move on. So much to do, so little time!!
As you can imagine, we were merely scratching the surface with regard to getting to know Vienna, but there was something about the vibe, the people, the culture, the architecture and it’s overall sophistication that really excited me.
In a desperate attempt to hold on to this romance a little longer, and learn as much as possible in one afternoon, we also toured the National Library of Austria. I’m so glad that we included it in our day, because it is truly one of the most remarkable buildings I’ve ever seen. The photo below is of the interior. I only wish it began to capture the scope, the color and the overall grandeur of this room.
We continued with a stroll around Kärtner Strasse – the main pedestrian shopping area, which is fantastic. The photo of Joe is on Kohlmarkt, a short but exclusive street that leads to Michaelerplatz and Hofburg Palace.
Vienna is the “Music Capitol of the World'” and when ‘they’ say music, ‘they’ mean classical music, which didn’t really turn me on at first. I’m more of “classic” rock n roll girl, yet that evening, we were going to the Wiener Hofburg Orchestra. I went into the experience with an open heart and mind, and low and behold…..classical music truly moved me! I quickly found out that it can make the little hairs on the back of your neck stand up and bring a girl to tears. Literally. A true testament to the theory about how when you travel somewhere new, you always return just a little bit different.
We were visiting Vienna as part of a Christmas-time Danube River cruise itinerary on AMA Waterways, so after the concert we went back to the ship to get into bed after such a busy day. Fortunately we had some more time to spend in Vienna the following morning, so we couldn’t miss seeing Schönbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site and it’s Christmas Market, which was filled with local artists and artisans displaying and selling hand-made trinkets like x-mas tree ornaments and nut-crackers, glass blowers, of course Christmas tree ornaments sausages, pretzels, roasted chestnuts and of course Mulled wine, games and obviously pastries!
I know it’s hard to believe that such a brief and exhausting courtship would result in true love, so maybe it was just an infatuation. But there was something special and unexpected about Vienna that stuck with me. Maybe it’s because you always want more of what you can’t have; who knows? But it was sad to leave, and I can only hope that someday we’ll meet again.
If you have any questions about travel to Vienna, AMA Waterways (I’m friends with the owners!!) and holiday river-cruising (or travel anywhere else for that matter) connect with me, your friendly neighborhood travel consultant at: