Published on :   06/09/2015

Discovering Vienna with the MS Vivaldi

“Come, get in this photo! You’re our daughter now!”

Well everyone, two days into my cruise along the Danube and it appears I’ve already been adopted.

What family am I now part of? Well, my ‘new father’ is a wonderfully loud Bavarian baker who resides in Bermuda. He, along with his wife, make up part of my seven person meal table, where three times a day, we enjoy delicious food and share hilarious stories about life and travel. This Photo Tour has allowed me to cross paths with some of the warmest and most interesting people. No doubt, mealtime conversations have quickly become one of my favourite parts of river cruising.

Of course, exploring new places everyday is pretty great too. Today was an absolute whirlwind of a day in the Austrian capital of Vienna, where we toured palaces, museums and indulged in a bus tour of the city by night. With three excursions packed into one day, I have to admit I am exhausted, but it was a fantastic introduction to a city that I have always wanted to visit.

Our first stop was the Schönbrunn Palace, the former summer residence of the Habsburg family, one of the most important royal families in all of Europe. The palace complex is massive, and is composed of 1441 rooms, gorgeous gardens and other attractions like a labyrinth and zoo. I’ve been to Versailles twice before but the truth is I’ll never get tired of seeing the opulence of royal residences. The sheer enormity and extravagance of everything is a feast for the eyes, and you can’t help but be blown away every time. As we toured the staterooms, my eyes took in marble walls with gold leaf detailing, upholstered furniture in ornate fabrics and interestingly, Chinese and Japanese art, which were considered fashionable symbols of wealth at the time.  

… Can you imagine living here? That’s the most fascinating part about Schönbrunn: today, it serves not only as a major tourist attraction, but also as the residence of around 400 regular people like you and me. Renting an apartment in a palace? Let’s add that to my bucket list.

After a quick lunch back on the MS Vivaldi, we continued our tour of Vienna at Hofburg Palace and the Sisi Museum. This was once the main imperial residence of Vienna, and today, part of it still serves as home to the country’s president. We began with a walk through the palace’s gardens and courtyards, which were gorgeously decked out in brightly coloured roses. As we wandered the palace grounds, I couldn’t help but notice countless locals sprawled out on the grass, enjoying picnics, books and of course, the warm sunshine. It seems that even the Viennese can’t resist the Hofburg's charm.

Before touring the palace staterooms, we made a visit to the Sisi museum, dedicated to Empress Elisabeth of Austria. One of my favourite TV shows growing up was a cartoon series based on Sisi’s life, so visiting a museum dedicated to her was really fascinating. Married to Emperor Franz Joseph I at the age of 16, she is easily one of the most famous monarchs the country has ever seen. Revered not only for her beauty, but for her intelligence and strong character, her life was tragically cut short in 1898, when she was assassinated by an Italian anarchist in Geneva. No doubt, her fascinating (yet sad) life story made for a very compelling afternoon.

When we got back to the boat, we had our first CroisiEurope theme dinner waiting for us, and it was Austrian night! In addition to being served Austrian delicacies like schnitzel, we were also surrounded by a delightful ambiance with cute flag decorations and even traditional clothing as modeled by our servers!

Our crazy day concluded with a night time tour of Vienna. I tell you, nothing quite compares to seeing a beautiful city lit up at night. It was definitely a wonderful way to complete our (much too short) visit.

Vienna, I promise you, someday I will be back!

Update you all soon,

- Christina