Vienna, what can I say? It’s so stuffed with ostentation, it’s too much to take in. To be important back when was to
have the biggest edifice closest to the royals. So the approach to the Imperial Palace is lined for kilometers with elbow-to-elbow palaces. Inside the Imperial Palace, the Imperial Treasury flaunts priceless crowns, relics, robes–every sort of royal paraphernalia. I had to keep reminding myself that these were not reproductions. Kings wore them. Kings who ruled empires that changed the course of civilization.
At the palace entrance I wondered about several sculptures of violent scenes. They depicted the tasks of Hercules. Really? Those statues were created when people still worshiped Roman gods?
After seeing the stables for the Lipizzaner Stallions, Steve and I paid way too much for a horse and carriage ride, but I quash all regret by reminding myself: “it’s Venice.” A trip to Venice also requires a leisurely coffee with decadent pastry at one of the preeminent shops, but watching people savor pastries I couldn’t even taste (I’m gluten free) would have been torture. We split a diet soda at a lower-brow establishment.
Bigger even than carriage rides and coffee shops is culture, and our cruise director sent us to the Kursalon Music Hall for a lovely sampling. How’s this for Viennese elegance? Our bus delivered us to a palace where we sipped Champaign in prelude to a private Mozart and Strauss concert. The mini orchestra played familiar pieces, sometimes with operatic vocalists, sometimes with ballet dancing. Their last piece included clapping from the audience. The first chair violinist directed us without
a word but very precisely: “start now”, “very quiet”, “now loud”, “silence”, “begin again”. Fun!