We’d come full circle. Our trip had begun with a blurry, jet-lagged handful of days on our own in Vienna before meeting up with our Tauck tour in Prague. Now we were back, but this time under our professional tour guides’ professional purview, complete with coach, the ever-present Vox Boxes and a meticulously planned itinerary.
Which way is better? If you’re in the “decidedly-averse-to-group-travel” category as we’d always been, well, of course, you’ll want to go it alone. We had a lovely (if sleep-deprived) time stumbling about the city on our own those first few days. But if, just if, you’re a person of a certain age and have become a bit weary of lugging your suitcases from city to city to city, you might be surprised to learn you won’t hate a tour.
“Oh, we’ve already seen Vienna” was the thought that sprang to mind. But right off the bat, our Tauck coach tour of the Ringstrasse provided sights we had not yet seen. First, a passing view of the lovely Jubilee Church, completed in 1913 and so named to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.
Then a glimpse of the Prater’s iconic ferris wheel, revered by devotees of The Third Man and Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise:
The subsequent walking tour brought us back to some familiar sights – the Pestsäule, or Plague Column, on the Graben being one of them:
and we opted out of the Naschmarkt tour since we’d toured it during our previous visit. Feeling a bit müde after all our touring, we also opted out of the afternoon visit to the Upper Belvedere Palace, which was a HUGE MISTAKE – it is a must-see for fans of Klimt. I will always regret that I passed on my opportunity to see The Kiss. Lesson learned: go see everything!
We had decided to rest that afternoon because Tauck had a big night planned for us. “Dress up”, they said, for a special evening at the Palais Pallavicini! This was most definitely something we would not have experienced on our own – a beautiful Viennese feast, never-empty glasses of Grüner Veltliner, and entertainment by local musicians, singers and dancers. And yes, there was no avoiding it, The Blue Danube Waltz was played…
Next day we had a fabulous Tauck-sponsored tour of the Schönbrunn Palace, marred only by some elbow-poking from fellow tourists who looked suspiciously like those we encountered in Salzburg. The Schönbrunn is a very busy place that receives well over a million visitors annually..
Then a bit of free time where we said our farewells to Vienna over a lovely lunch at Café Imperial…
and then, it was time to move on. We had a 3:00 p.m. “All Aboard” deadline for departure to our next stop… Auf Wiedersehen, Vienna!