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Christmas Markets Along the Danube 2014

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Post-trip: Vienna, Austria

Join us as we explore Vienna, a magnificent old-world city of museums and music, art and architecture, and famous people from its storied past, that has lost nothing of the grace and charm that has for centuries helped it stand out even in the dazzling company of other great European cultural capitals.

It's Included:
Accommodations: 3 nights at the Superior First-Class ARCOTEL Kaiserwasser or similar
3 meals: 3 breakfasts
Included tour: Vienna
Exclusive services of an experienced Grand Circle Program Director
All transfers
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    After breakfast, disembark and enjoy a tour of Vienna en route to your hotel. Your tour showcases the Ringstrasse, one of the many achievements of the Emperor Franz Joseph. In 1857, the Emperor ordered the demolition of the ancient city walls, which were no longer needed as fortifications and which were actually impeding the growth of the city. In their place was constructed an elegant 2.5-mile-long boulevard, encircling the Innere Stadt. The Neoclassical buildings along the Ringstrasse bring together all the greatest architectural styles in an exuberant celebration of all that seemed possible during the Industrial Revolution. You then walk to a typical Viennese coffeehouse, and stop in for coffee and cake. Our stroll continues along the city sidewalks, passing by the well-known Imperial Palace.

    The balance of the day is free to relax or do some more exploring on your own. You’ll certainly want to visit Vienna’s Christkindlmarkt, the largest and most famous in Austria. Get a final taste of the Christmas Market tradition you’ve explored throughout your cruise as you browse through stall after stall offering unique handcrafts and traditional holiday foods. You may also consider a stroll through the old Jewish Quarter to see the only Viennese synagogue to have survived the 1938 Kristallnacht.

    Your evening is free to do as you please. Ask your Program Director for interesting suggestions.

    Or, join us this evening for an optional Imperial Spa Town excursion to Baden, a town which is known for its curative mineral waters.

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    You have the day at leisure to relax, do some shopping, or explore this unique city on your own.

    Vienna has served as home and inspiration to some of the world’s greatest artists, thinkers, and musicians. You’ll notice statues of Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler throughout the city, and see how music is such an integral part of Viennese life. The strains of waltz music emanate from the many cafes, and these harmonious melodies move outdoors to the sidewalks in good weather.

    Perhaps you'll join an optional Best of Vienna tour to discover two of Vienna’s most beloved and beautiful sites: the Vienna Opera House and Hofburg Palace.

    The first performance at the opening of the Vienna Opera House in May 1869 was Mozart’s Don Giovanni, and since then the company and its orchestra have been at the forefront of international musicianship, vocal expertise, and production values, with long associations with some of the greatest names in music, including Gustav Mahler and Richard Strauss. Designed in a Neo-Romantic style that was not well received at the time, the stage and the company’s set and costume collections were severely damaged by Allied bombing in World War II. The Opera House reopened in 1955 and has been a prime destination for opera lovers ever since, presenting 50 operas and 20 ballets annually. You’ll tour the house and learn about its illustrious history.

    Please note: When the Vienna State Opera is not open, we visit Haus der Musik (House of Music) during this tour instead.

    Then you'll continue on to Hofburg Palace. The Imperial Apartments and the Sisi Museum at the Vienna Hofburg are among the most frequently visited historic sites in Austria. Formerly the residence of the Habsburg rulers, the Hofburg contains the 19-room state and residential apartments of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth, which are open to the public. In an impressively staged exhibition, the Sisi Museum seeks to give the visitor an understanding of the myths and reality surrounding the figure of Empress Elisabeth.

    Your afternoon is free to pursue your own interests in the city. You can spend your evening as you wish.

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    You have a day at leisure to further sample the delights of Vienna. Enjoy your day of discovery with an included day pass for Vienna's excellent public tram and trolley system. You may want to browse through one of the city's many museums, or visit the famous Hofburg Spanish Riding School, which we passed during our walking tour at the beginning of your stay, known as much for its architecture as for the renowned Lipizzaner horses. You might also consider strolling the gardens of Maria Theresia’s Schoenbrunn Palace.

    Gather this evening with your fellow travelers to toast your memories over a Farewell Drink at your hotel, then enjoy dinner on your own.

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    • Meals included:

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight home.