A leisurely exploration of the superb architecture, fascinating history and culture, and the glorious music and food of one of the world’s truly great cities! Our tour includes all the major sights, such as St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the State Opera, and the Habsburg Dynasty’s Schönbrunn and Belvedere Palaces, as well as fabulous museums and monuments associated with painters such as Bruegel and Klimt and musicians such as Mozart and Schubert. The tour host will be historian Jacques R. Pauwels, PhD, who will lecture on the history and culture of Vienna and Austria in general.
Historian Jacques Pauwels will be your tour host. Jacques has published books in no less than seven languages, including: Beneath the Dust of Time: A History of the Names of Peoples and Places (Battlebridge Publications. London, 2009), The Great Class War 1914-1918 (James Lorimer, Toronto, 2016), and Big Business and Hitler (James Lorimer, Toronto, 2017).
Early evening departure from Toronto on Austrian Airlines’ non-stop flight to Vienna. Dinner and breakfast will be served on board.
Morning arrival in Vienna, and transfer to the city centre by private coach. En route, we briefly visit the famous Prater Amusement Park with its gigantic Ferris Wheel as well as the Hundertwasser Haus, a spectacular creation by the controversial Austrian artist/architect, Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Then we check into the centrally located first-class/four-star Hotel Johann Strauss (excellent customers reviews can be read on Trip Advisor). Free time to settle in and get some rest after your overnight flight. In late afternoon, short introductory walk to view some important monuments in the immediate vicinity of our hotel, such as the impressive baroque Charles Church, the Musikverein building, and the Secession Exhibition Hall. Dinner in our hotel or in a nearby restaurant.
This morning we first explore the Naschmarkt, Vienna’s fabulous food market, then enjoy a streetcar ride to admire the grandiose monuments along the Ring Boulevard, such as the Austrian Parliament, the City Hall, the university, and the City Park. Resuming our walking tour of the historical city centre, we pause at the Monument Against War and Fascism on our way to the Capuchin Crypt, the mausoleum of the Habsburg Dynasty, with the elaborate tombs of e.g. Empress Maria-Theresa, Emperor Francis-Joseph, Crown Prince Rudolph, and Maria-Louise, Napoleon’s second wife and the mother of his only son, the Duke of Reichstadt; the latter used to be here, but was moved to Paris to rest with his father in the Invalides – your guide will explain! The gourmets among us may want to conclude this busy program with a piece of Sachertorte, a world-famous Viennese variation on the death-by-chocolate theme, in the café of the hotel Sacher, located just behind the State Opera; it is also an excellent, though not inexpensive, choice for lunch! Rest of the day at leisure.
A very special day, devoted to the music of Vienna, with hostess, Canadian musicologist (and Vienna-resident) Dr. Rita Steblin, one of the world’s top expert on Schubert, Bach, and other composers – she even revealed the true identity of Beethoven’s “immortal beloved”! We first visit Vienna’s Central Cemetery, with the tombs of famous composers such as Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Strauss. Returning to central Vienna, we visit the Figaro Haus, where Mozart composed his famous opera, and Schubert’s birthplace/museum. (Rita would also love to take us to the Museum of Musical Instruments, but it will probably still be closed for renovations.) This evening, dinner in a restaurant featuring Balkan specialties, accompanied by traditional music!
Morning visit to the Museum of Art History (Kunsthistorisches Museum), considered to be one of the world’s finest museums on account of its magnificent architecture and interior decoration plus an amazing art collection that includes treasures from Ancient Egypt and Greek Antiquity to the late 18th century; among the highlights are paintings by the likes of Dürer, Raphael, Bruegel, Rembrandt, Rubens, Titian, Velázquez, and Vermeer. In the afternoon, visit to the Imperial Treasury, located in the Hofburg Palace, where we will admire more Habsburg treasures and insignia, e.g. the imperial crown, insignia and jewels as well as pieces of jewellery once worn by Empress Elisabeth, better known as “Sissi.”
This morning we walk via the little-known monument dedicated to Kolschitzky, a hero of the famous Turkish siege of 1683, who introduced coffee to the Viennese, to the magnificent Belvedere Palace, with its fabulous collection of masterpieces by modern Austrian painters such as Klimt and Kokoschka. On the way back to the hotel, we view the Red Army Memorial, where your guide will explain another chapter of Viennese history, the birth of a free, independent, but neutral Austrian state in the wake of WW II. If there is sufficient interest, an optional daytrip (by train) may be arranged to Mozart’s beautiful birthplace, Salzburg.
Return direct flight Toronto-Vienna with Austrian Airlines, including all airport taxes, security fees and fuel surcharges Accommodation based on double occupancy in the four-star/first-class Hotel Johann Strauss; the single room supplement is $375 Breakfast daily and a total of four dinners (or full lunches) All sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary, including admission to museums and monuments mentioned Transfers and sightseeing by private coach and public transportation as indicated in the itinerary
All items of a personal nature Beverages such as wine/beer/mineral water with dinners, and meals other than those outlined above Travel Insurance, available upon request