As we sailed away, Kati gave wheelhouse commentary on the beautiful Wachau Valley. After a relaxing afternoon and another delicious dinner, we arrived in Vienna, Austria around 8:30pm. Once the sailors secured the ship, we disembarked and boarded the coaches for a night drive around Vienna to see the illuminated “ring road.” It was quite a treat to see such an amazing city lit up at night. Wednesday morning started bright and early with a choice of going to Schonbrunn Palace or the Hofburg Complex. On my first training trip, I enjoyed visiting Schonbrunn, the spectacular summer palace of the Hapsburgs. So on this training trip, I visited the Hofburg, the impressive winter palace, which included the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments.
Attached to the Hofburg are the stables of the Spanish Riding School. I got a quick peak of a few of the horses and I knew that my sweet Ethan would have loved seeing the stables. One of these days, I’ll get to attend one of the Spanish Riding School performances. Our walking tour of the Hofburg Complex concluded around noon and the rest of the afternoon was ours to enjoy. I strolled around Kartner Strasse and Graben Strasse, fabulous pedestrian shopping streets. I made my way through many of the shops and then stopped for a bite of lunch at a quaint Italian restaurant. There was one other table of patrons and the room was quiet and peaceful…..until the other table started smoking. I couldn’t believe that smoking in restaurants was still allowed! I guess I am used to the laws in the states where it is prohibited to smoke in restaurants….and I like it that way! I found myself getting annoyed and giving the “don’t you know it’s rude to smoke in a restaurant” glare. The table of smokers didn’t understand the meaning behind my glare and they continued puffing away. I quickly finished my meal, paid and vacated the premises. Note to self: when possible, eat outside! I continued to make my way through the pedestrian streets and back to the Albertina (the designated meeting point) for a 4pm shuttle back to the ship. We all had a little down time before our departure for Palais Pallavacini, where we had our royal evening of dinner and entertainment. During my first evening at Palais Pallavacini, I sat with the guests in the grand ballroom so that I could have the true guest experience. Since this was my second time at Palais Pallavacini, I joined the TDs in their private dining room. We were able to hear the live music but had some privacy and we were able to relax and chat a bit. The guests were in awe and everyone left having had an amazing evening.Our ship stayed in Vienna for the evening and we set sail bright and early at 8:30am, en route to Bratislava, Slovakia. I knew exactly what to expect since we stopped in Bratislava on my first tour. Once again, we had an onboard lecture entitled “Slovakia: Past, Present and Future” and then we set out for walking tour with the local guides. I joined for part of the walking tour but then spent some time on my own exploring the small side streets around the old city.
I made my way back to the ship for dinner and the evening entertainment, a Slovak Folklore Show. I couldn’t believe it was already day 13 on the itinerary and my second training trip was winding down. The sailors started to untie the ship and we were quickly “anchors up,” on our way to Budapest! Friday was our last full day and it was spent in Budapest, Hungary. It happened to be a National holiday so unfortunately most things were closed. We toured the Buda side of the river and then the Pest side of the river….which I had already done with my first tour.
I was starting to feel comfortable in many of the cities, especially Budapest and it was a nice feeling to know where we were going. The last night started with the captain’s farewell dinner and then Carlos arranged for a special treat.
For the first few weeks, I was getting many of the cities and landmarks confused in my head…..but now the details are finally becoming more clear. My comfort and confidence levels are increasing by the day and I continue to feel good about being hired as a Tauck Tour Director.