Our cruise was set to leave Vienna the next day at around midnight, which meant we had a whole day still to explore. Today’s itinerary for myself, included a tour of the (Kunsthistorisches Museum) Museum of Fine Arts in the Museum Quartier and a bike tour along the Danube. I had initially been signed up for the musical performance at the Belvedere Palace, but after the long bike ride in the heat, I instead decided to stay in and relax.
The Museum of Fine Arts, which is located in the Maria-Theresien-Platz, across from the Museum of Natural History, houses most of the Habsburgs art collection and antiquities. For those who don’t know, the Habsburgs were one of the most influential dynasty/empire in Europe. They held the seat of the Holy Roman Empire for around three hundred years. The collection that is stored in the Museum of Fine Arts represents a key part of Austrian history. Because we were part of the cruise, they had a special arrangement with the museum where we could be inside 30 minutes before it opened to the public. Also, our tour guide was quite knowledgeable in all the different artifacts and pieces of the collection. We walked through the museum for quite some time before finally stepping back out into the 21st century, where we returned back to our boat, just in time for lunch.
My next excursion was a four hour bike tour along the Danube. At two, we gathered by the shore, selected our “e-bikes” and quickly introduced ourselves. On the tour, I was joined by a Ukranian couple who currently resided in Toronto who did many similar cruises and other bike excursions. This couple would continue to bike with me for most of the trips and we would slowly get to know each other etc. Now, these e-bikes were really peculiar in that they had motors on them that would assist your pedaling but would not provide propulsion on its own. It was an interesting product, one that would make sense for the potential users who mostly were on the elderly side of the population. Nonetheless, there was an option to increase the tension on the bikes which allowed for a greater challenge while biking. Adding the tension made the rides much more worthwhile and it allowed me to get some exercise to counter all the food I was consuming.
Anyhow, the five of us (two guides), took us along the Danube where we crossed the bridge and ended up on a man-made island that sat in the middle of “old Danube” and “new Danube”. The island served as mainly a recreational space but also as a flood mitigation measure. Apparently, in the event of a flood, there are locks at the ends of the island that will help divert water flow and help reduce the damage. The route was very nice and we learned quite a bit about local Viennese people and their interests. It was nice to see the locals out and about on such a hot day enjoying the outdoors. It felt like a new perspective on the population as most of the people we had seen in the city center were all tourists from various countries. To see so many local people swimming and rowing boats and just having a blast on the river felt really cool.
We continued our journey to the Danube Tower, the tallest structure in Austria which featured a revolving restaurant and observation deck. There we enjoyed some refreshments as well as the amazing view of the city. We stayed there for about 30 minutes to an hour just seeing the city as we rotated around and around. After we finished our drinks, we returned to the sweltering heat to finish our ride. Our guides took us through the United Nations area of Vienna, with all the affiliated UN organization buildings around. We finally finished, back on our boat four hours later, sweaty, but filled with much enjoyment.
While the rest of the family went off to the concert in the Belvedere Palace, I stayed behind and enjoyed the air conditioning (apparently, due to the art and other concerns, the concert hall in the palace had no air conditioning) and other benefits such as drinks and food. After all the guests had returned, our boat pushed off and we began our journey along the Danube towards Lower Austria.