For a photo album, an underwhelming start. But this is the upper deck of our 300' long river ship, the Amadeus Royal, with EVERYTHING collapsed upon the top deck, so that the ship would fit under the bridges.
Here, we have just departed Vienna, heading upriver on the Danube, after a 6-hour bus ride from Munich.
The wheelhouse collapses COMPLETELY down into the deck, for really low bridges. Here, you see it about 50% collapsed, with the captain's head sticking out a hatch that exists for this purpose.
As the first low bridge approaches, the crew takes a rest, after collapsing canopies, hand rails, a wet bar, and more for this 30-minute trip upriver to our temporary dock for the night.
The Danube was flooding, so we were unable to start this trip upriver in Passau, Germany, and some bridges were temporarily impassible.
Will the Captain's head strike the bridge?
No sweat. At least 12 inches of clearance.
Looking aft, as we cross under the bridge. I had to duck...
Abigail kept HER head low, by staying inside.
Here we are, at the unglamorous stopping point for the first night, in Vienna.
We all went as a group into the city for some sightseeing. This dock was a convenient 30 minute ride by streetcar from the heart of town.
Our guide for the evening in Vienna, and Abigail.
A quick look back at the stern of the Amadeus Royal, just before I boarded the same bus.
This little palace in Vienna, Schloss Schönbrunn, was the hunting lodge of the Hapsburgs, particularly Empress Maria-Theresa. It was first founded in the 14th century as a monastery. In 1569, it was acquired by Emperor Maximilian II, who expanded the buildings, gardens, and game preserve. The present buildings were started in 1686, and completed, Baroque on the outside, and Rococo on the inside, by Maria-Theresa, in 1763.
Our group, oohing and aahing.
Typical of the statuary on the grounds.
The palace was designed by the architect Nikolaus Picassi.
This is a view of the "Great Parterre", the gardens behind the palace, which were masterminded by Maria-Theresa's consort, Emperor Franz I Stephan of Lorraine. The style is patterned on embroidery motifs, and is called parterre de broiderie.
At the base of the hill behind the Great Parterre is the Neptune Fountain, commissioned by Maria-Theresa in the 1770s. It is carved in Sterzing marble. The fountain depicts Neptune driving across his dominion, the seas, surrounded by nymphs, and sea goddesses. I should be so lucky; when I drive across the seas I have NO nymphs and one usually sea-SICK goddess...
Here, you can see the figures more clearly. Neptune is being asked by the sea-goddess Thetis, kneeling at his right, to look after her son Achilles, on the horse, just heading off for Troy. Neptune was later found to have not been listening...
A detail of a nymph that distracted Neptune. Sorry, Achilles.
This is a view from behind Neptune, looking through the cascading water, back at the palace. The rigid symmetry of the Grand Parterre is now really obvious.
We started up this hill, and then thought better of it. At there top, the only thing to see were some Japanese, who, we having lived in Tokyo for 3 years, were no longer a novelty.
I was struck by this "linear" clock, under the Imperial Crest.
Back out front, a carriage.
Photos were not permitted inside, so you will just have to imagine the thousands of paintings and tapestries.
I shoot horses, don't I?
Abigail and I broke from our group, and walked the several miles from the palace back to the heart of Vienna. Here, we have, after several photograph-free hours, arrived at the famous St. Stephen's Cathedral ("Stephansdom"). Built in 1147 AD, the gothic building with its 450' high steeple was the tallest building in Europe for centuries.
The several main streets converging on the cathedral were pedestrian zones, lined with name botiques, chocolate stores, and cafes.