Last night was a rough night, for me at least. I have been fighting an annoying head cold for the past few days and it seems to be getting worse. When morning arrives, since there is snow falling and a stiff wind blowing, a decision is made. I will stay on board Savor and get some rest while Rickee goes into Vienna with the rest of the Tauck Savor guests. Rickee's day started at 8:45am in the Panorama Lounge where guests were shown the proper operation of the "Vox" audio devices. We have used these before on other Tauck excursions and they are a real convenience.
While most river cruise lines offer an excursion to Schönbrunn Palace as an optional excursion at an additional cost, Tauck includes the excursion in your cruise fare. The buses departed for Schönbrunn at 9:00am and the drive into Vienna only takes about 15 minutes during which time our local guide, Sonia, pointed out historical buildings and told us about Vienna's history. On the bus ride to town, each guest was given 10€ in cash and a mission to find and purchase a Christmas ornament for the ship's Christmas tree. Later tonight, guests will gather and decorate the tree with their ornaments.
Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence of the Hapsburgs. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Hapsburg monarchs.
Obviously, there is no way visitors can tour all 1,440 rooms, but after about 10 rooms, you start to get the idea. The wealth of the Hapsburgs is undeniable! And, by the way, in case you wish to tour Schönbrunn Palace on your own, there are 30-40 minute tours available for about 15€ per person. Photography is not allowed inside the Palace rooms, so we are not able to show you what the tour offers.
On the Palace grounds, there is a small Christmas Market, which guests were given the time to visit. As an added treat, as Tauck guests descended the stairs to exit the Palace, the Tauck Tour Directors were waiting to give each guest a coupon good for one warm drink from any vendor at the Schönbrunn Christmas Market. Nice! And we even got to keep the mug.
By 12:30pm, guests re-boarded the buses for the drive to Albertina Square for a 5-minute walk to Palais Pallavicini for lunch. After leaving our coats at the coat-check desk, we climbed the stairs to the third floor where we were greeted by white-gloved waiters serving champagne. Before the buffet-style luncheon, we were entertained by a youth choir singing a selection of Christmas songs. The atmosphere in the palace dining room was so festive and the over-the-top palatial decor made the event even more special.
While RIckee was enjoying Schönbrunn Palace and the Palais Pallavicini, I was getting some much needed rest. Rickee had mentioned to Simona at Reception that I was not feeling well and would be staying on board. Simona called our stateroom around 12:45 to see if she could have some lunch brought to me. That was nice, but I was able to make my way up to Arthur's for a small lunch. Arthur's is located on Deck 3 aft and is an alternate dining venue with all-day dining from 11am until 11pm each day.
After lunch at Palais Pallavicini, guests had the opportunity to return to the ship by shuttle bus at 3:00pm, 4:00pm or 5:00pm, so they could have as much free time as they wanted to explore Vienna's Christmas Markets. Rickee spent some of her free time trying to find me some cold remedy. She found an Apotheke (pharmacy) recommended by one of the Tauck Tour Directors. After explaining my symptoms to the pharmacist, she was sold Grippostad, obviously a brand we are not familiar with in the US.
After spending some time at the Christmas Markets shopping for the ornament for the ship's tree, Rickee took the 4:00pm shuttle back to Savor. When she arrived, I was desperate for the medication. All of the instructions were in German, so Rickee had to ask one of the ship's crew to interpret the dosing instructions, which they gladly did. I took two capsules and started to feel better within 15 minutes. In fact, I felt well enough to get dressed and go to Cocktail Hour in the Panorama Lounge at 5:45. After about an hour of being upright, I was ready to head back to bed. I get the sense that I will feel much better tomorrow.
After dinner, guests were asked to meet in the ship's Lounge and Reception area for the tree-trimming ceremony. Rickee, again, had to assume the duties for both of us. Our ornament was a little violin, representing Vienna's music and Mozart. The guests did a good job in purchasing the ornaments and, amazingly, no two were alike! Hot chocolate and coffee were available with a shot of liquer if you wanted it. A fun time was had by all.
Tomorrow, Savor will be in Melk where guests can visit the famed Melk Abbey.