The last time I was in Vienna, I was about 18. That's a long time ago...
Joan and I spent a week there in January 2018. Our hotel was right downtown, a block from Stephanplatz
and the cathedral
but our taxi from the airport could not reach it and we had to walk the last few blocks. The reason was that the whole of downtown was blocked off, due to a planned demonstration against the right wing government's sponsoring of the "Akademikerball".
Ah, the Viennese balls! That was, in fact the reason for our trip. Joan had always dreamt of waltzing in the Hofburg (the imperial palace), and this year was the year. So we joined our Swiss friends Adrian and Louise Casty for the Ärzteball - the ball of the doctors.
Earlier in the day we spent time checking out some of the sights
Then, after a nice traditional dinner of Wiener Schnitzel and beef roulades,
we went back to the hotel to get ready.
then we met our friends at the Hofburg. Everybody has to be photographed in front the roses!
The theme of the ball is "Viennese blood" so the decor and many dresses - and Adrian's bowtie - are red.
The place is huge, though only a small part of the Hofburg. We look for our appointed seats in the "Zeremoniensaal".
The official opening of the ball is at 9:30 with the grand entrance of the debutantes.
Then the various orchestras take their places. Ours is a ladies orchestra playing traditional waltzes, polkas, etc. Just what we came here for.
There are six orchestras, ranging from small jazz ensembles to big bands.
The floors get pretty crowded, and most people know how to dance well. It is a real pleasure both to participate and just to sit around and watch.
We lasted until about 3:30 AM, after watching the public quadrille. The real die-hards went on til 5.
A couple of last pictures, then out into the cold night!
The rest of the week was spent mostly visiting museums. 2018 is the hundredth anniversary of the death of Egon Schiele, who died of the flu at age 28, and of Gustav Klimt, two of the great Viennese painter of the early 1900's. There was a great exhibition celebrating that period at the Leopold Museum.
I don't usually take pictures inside museums, but I could not resist taking a few shots of some of the rooms in the Belvedere (a pair of summer palaces):
Here is the view of Vienna from the Upper Belvedere:
Another building is part museum, part storage for the government surplus furniture, including old furniture that preceded the royal family and entourage when they moved from one palace to another. Joan was interested by a room full of chairs by the Thonet Brothers because her sister has some of them.
In the "Augarten" there is a small museum with porcelaine that used to be made there. Here are a few examples.
The "Secession" building was under renovation, but we could see the room that contains the giant Klimt fresco inspired by Beethoven's 9th symphony.
Then we went to see the imperial treasure. The rooms themselves, with their fancy chandeliers and rococco display cases are almost worth the visit. But what impressed us most, among the crowns, scepters and other bejewelled objects, were the amazing embroidered vestments, some as old as the middle-ages. Unfortunately the lighting is, understandably, very low, and our pictures do not quite reflect the fine details.
Finally, Vienna would not be Vienna without its cafés and pastries. One of the most spectacular ones
is Café Central: