Der Staatsoper (Vienna Opera House)
We arrived in Vienna, Austria after a long drive from Venice, Italy. Central Austria is very green and beautiful with some very high mountains. The autobahn is always in excellent shape. When you drive the speed the Germans, Austrians and Italians drive you had better have some good pavement under you. Actually, I have never seen roads in such good shape. But since most of the good roads are toll roads I guess they have the money available to keep them in them in top condition.
We arrived in the big sprawling city of Vienna at rush hour so it was quite a chore trying to find our lodging place in a huge city we had never before visited. Fortunately, we had our GPS system up and running (we call her "Jill"). Without that we would have no idea how to find our goal--not even a good city map would be very helpful in such a complicated place. We found our hotel not far from the central city. It was actually a building with small apartments. We rented ours for four nights. It is very comfortable with a furnished kitchen, bathroom and a large bedroom with a couch, TV, twin beds and a large boudoir. The added plus was air conditioning--it is hotter than usual for this time of year and humid. Since we have our own kitchen we went shopping for supplies for breakfast. But we couldn't pass up a dinner of Wiener Schnitzel from a nearby deli that made only food dishes to go.
On Tuesday morning we set out on foot for the center of town--that's where all the famous old sites are to be found. We visited the Stephansdom (St. Stephen's Cathedral)--more about that tomorrow. We went on to the Staatsoper (the opera house). It's one of the most extravagant opera houses in the world and we took a tour through the entire building. Actually, Eric, our opera- singing son tried to find us tickets for a performance of the opera Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi which is playing while we are here but he couldn't find a seat under $100 per person and knew his tightwad dad wouldn't go for that. So the next best thing was the tour of the opera house. That was much cheaper and it was worth every penny of the price. Following that we got on a "hope on--hop off" tour bus that takes you around the central city. As its name suggests, you can get off at any point and see up close whatever you find interesting and then hop on another later bus and continue your tour. We've done that in several places in Europe and it's a great idea. We also walked--a lot! That's the cheapest way to see the city. But we didn't have to walk all the way back to our apartment because they have a wonderful subway system (Ubahn). Tomorrow we will use it again because we have tickets to see the famous Lipizzaner Spanish Riding School: the stables and behind the scenes places and equipment. We'll let you know how that turns out tomorrow.