Saturday, August 29 continued again


We go to the sun deck on MS River Adagio for a final view of Vienna before we leave the boat tomorrow morning.

A church at the harbor.
The DC Tower is the tallest building in Vienna. There's a restaurant on the top 57th floor. The tower is surrounded by a complex of UN agencies. About 5,000 people in Vienna work for the UN.

Tom and his friend Bill Dumka from NY.

Karen and Lois Kiehl from Sarasota.

A tower in Danube Island Park. People bungee jump from the platform at the top.

Good morning Vienna! We have breakfast at sunrise to leave for the airport. A magical end to an amazing trip. We're leaving at a good time as the temperature is to be 95 degrees today. The forecast for Minnetonka is 81 degrees at our expected arrival at 2:30 PM.



Saturday, August 29 continued

We end our walking tour at St Stephen's Cathedral and go to a cafe for coffee and Sacher torte and to observe the Saturday activities in Vienna's Old City. Sacher torte is chocolate cake with chocolate cream filling and chocolate frosting with whipped cream. At 11 in the morning!

The spire of St Stephen's Cathedral. St Stephen was the first Christian martyr.

In front of the Cathedral.
Horse and carriage teams line up beside the cathedral waiting for patrons.

A monument of thanks for the plague leaving Vienna.

A ticket seller for evening music performances.
Groups in native costumes are gathering next to the cathedral for a performance.

Vienna is proud of the purity of its city water. It is wonderfully tasteless.


Saturday, August 29

In Magical Vienna all day today! It's hot and sunny, forecast is 91 degrees!

Austria has a population of 8.5 million with 1.8 million in Vienna. It is landlocked now, but had access to the Adriatic Sea before 1918. We have a bus tour of the city, driving on Ring Avenue which was built on the footprint of the original city wall. About 25 to 30 percent of Vienna was bombed in WWII. Our guide, Sylvia, tells us that the Marshall Plan was responsible for rebuilding Vienna. We pass a multitude of beautiful, impressive buildings. Vienna's Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The State Opera House has a different opera performed every night and every performance is sold out. It was rebuilt after WWII.

The Presidential Palace houses the offices of the President of Parliament, mostly a figure head position. The flag indicates that he is here in Vienna.

We pass a statue of Mozart in a city park.

City Hall is a large, ornate, impressive building. It is not near the center of the city, so we must be satisfied with a drive by photo.

We're off the bus, walking through Hofburg square, past the Imperial Palace. The Habsburg family was in power for 640 years and responsible for the impressive buildings in Old City Vienna. Maria Theresia reigned from 1740 to 1780. She had 16 children. Her son Joseph II reigned with her and after her.

The famous Lippizaner Stallions of the Spanish Horse Riding School are housed here in Hofburg Square.

We catch a glimpse of a few of the horses in their stables. 72 horses are here. They come here at age four and are trained for five to seven years before they perform.

The Winter Palace now belongs to the Republic. The short wall in front circles an area of Roman ruins.

In a nearby square there is a spot for modern art, with the pieces being changed every month. This one of a broken horse and seated rider is called Monumental Break. The square marks an area that was the original moat of the city wall. The Badenburg family filled in the moat in the 1100s with money received from the ransom of Richard the Lionhearted.

Tom takes a break from the sun.


Friday, August 28 continued

We reach Vienna in the evening and go to a musical performance at the Kursalon. We realize we have been here before, perhaps twenty years ago, in this same music hall. Tom believes it was his birthday then, as it is today.

We sit on gilded chairs with red seat cushions and hear a 13 piece orchestra play Strauss and Mozart.

There are dancers.

There are operatic singers, singing solo and duets.



Friday, August 28

Happy Birthday Tom!!!

We're in Austria today, on the Danube River. There are several boats in Melk, most headed north. Tom stays on the boat and walks into the town of Melk to drink coffee and watch the world. Karen joins the excursion going to the Melk Abbey above the town.

Melk Abbey is a large complex, with highly decorated, ornate Baroque buildings, including the church. The Benedictine monks have been here for 900 years. Thirty monks run this Abbey, with a 63 guest rooms accommodating over 100 guests, a school for 900 students, a museum, a famous, large library, and responsibilities for farmland and forests.

The museum gives the history of the Abbey and it's ups and downs (represented by wavy floor boards) over the centuries. The idea of heaven is shown with heavily gilded figures.


The church has many detailed frescos on the ceilings and walls. The largest one is painted on a flat surface, giving the illusion of a dome.

This is certainly the most ornate church I have ever seen. Our guide Bob calls it Baroque on steroids.

After our tour of the Abbey we have Music and refreshments in the Abbey restaurant.



Karen and Betsy, our friend from CA.





Friday, August 28 continued

We leave Melk and head toward Vienna. We cruise through the Wachau Valley, with beautiful vistas, classic villages, vineyards and castles.

Schoenberg Castle is privately owned, and they give no tours. It appears to be in great shape.

Achstein Castle is a ruin on top of a hill.

Swimming in the Danube. A nudist beach complete with nude people.

A three inch statue, determined to be 25,000 years old. was found near the village of Willendorf. It was a primitive fertility statue and is now a museum piece.

The Castle of Vindenhaus is a ruin with a ghost.

Another nude on the beach.

The town of Durnstein has a blue clock tower. It also has a statue of Richard the Lionheart. He was returning from the Crusades and was held captive here in 1386-87. As the story goes, the English paid a huge ransom for his release. Check out the dates. Richard the Lionhearted was England’s King from 1189 to 1199. Oh well! Aha! Further research shows that Austrian Duke Leopold V, 1157 to 1194, held Richard here.

This town has built a wall for flood control.

As we cruise the Danube, Captain Pavel gives a wheelhouse tour.


Thursday, August 27, Passau continued

The docks are crowded with river boats today, the most we've seen since the beginning of the trip. They're docked two abreast for the length of the dock, and we have to walk across a Viking cruise boat to get onto shore.

The story: Danube River levels are very low, and many boats have made it this far but are too large to continue in either direction. Their passengers are being put onto buses with their luggage and they will complete their tours on land.

Our Grand Circle Cruise boat is smaller, with a smaller draft, and our captain is confident that we can continue on The Danube, but we will have to go more slowly in some places.

We leave Passau at 3:15 and have wonderful views of the city as we head south.

We see the two different colors of the water as the Ilz meets the Danube.

German sunbathers

Soon we see Austria on the right bank. The Danube is the Germany/Austrian border for a while before we have Austria on both sides.