We have had an exhausting but incredible 48 hours of travel! After a 10 hr flight (Lufthansa) from Denver to Frankfurt, we walked from what had to be the entire length of the Frankfurt Airport to our connecting flight to Vienna. While on the connecting plane, several students engaged a young Slovak man in conversstion ( in perfect English, of course!) about the cultures, history, customs, etc. Then, after a short 1 hour flight (and a very unique cheese sandwich that was served on the plane), we arrived in Vienna and met Johan, our tour guide, who was there to greet us and Marcus, our coach driver. (And, by the way, congrats to Lufthansa Airlines for not losing a single bag!) Our students are already in love with Johan, our tour guide, who is quite knowledgeable in the areas of history and maneuvering through the course of the tour. He has already been a wealth of knowledge and has a confident, but laid back temperament that seems to have quickly won the confidence of our students. Our first stop upon arriving in Vienna was the stunningly beautiful Schoenbrun Palace. We took a tour of the 1441- room palace, which included the
room where the 6 yr old Mozart played for Maria Theresa. The palace (yes 1441 rooms) is a stunning example of Roccoco architecture built originally in 1549,' then purchased for by the Holy Roman Emperor, Maxamillion II to use as a summer home in 1560"s. It subsequently became the Imperial home of the Hapsburg Dynasty, with Maria Theresa overseeing adding to the original architecture with the Rococco design in 1743. Perhaps the most stunning feature of the palace (if, indeed, a palace of this grandeur can be outdone) is the massive gardens area, with gardens ranging from mazes, to ponds, fountains, and expansive beautifully coiffed groves of trees and floral designs. There is also a zoo.
The crowning architectural piece is the GlorIette, which is a belvadiere like structure high on a hill, overlooking the palace and gardens, with a stunning view of Vienna as a backdrop. The arduous climb was certainly worth the spectacular view!
After arriving at the hotel, which is near the Stephansdom area, we walked to dinner at a lovely Italian restaurant. While enroute we noticed an excessive police presence lining the streets. We discovered that there were parades and demonstrations associated with remembrance
of the May 8 ending of WW II in Europe. Johan skillfully led us back to the hotel in order to avoid any possible resulting safety concerns (which did not seem to arise.) The very strong police presence seemed to have been appreciated by all and to have been effective in managing the situation. And so, an exhausted group of travelers ends their first two days! Tomorrow: tour of Venna and joint concert at Stift Klosterneuberg with Chor Weidling, an Austrian choir!
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