This story is part of a series.
Link to Part 1
We got to tour the ship’s wheelhouse on the way to Vienna. It reminded me of the “glass cockpit” in my 767. There were three large screens in front of the guywhosteerstheboat. One looked like a very detailed GPS and the other appeared to be a ground mapping radar.
I forget what the third one was but it might have been a depth finder. I was told that the river wasn’t all that deep and there were only a few feet of water under the ship. I know that in the US Navy running aground is a career ending maneuver and I would expect it’s the same in this business.
I was also told that the ship had an autopilot but all it could do was hold heading.
The entire wheelhouse sits on a lift mechanism and can be retracted flush with the deck for going under low bridges. Likewise every else up top can be lowered flush with the deck.
We had a live vest drill that day, which just involved gathering on deck for about ten minutes while they did a head count.
I don’t know what that building is but it was impressive. Looked like it was under renovation (these things require constant upkeep).
Going through another lock. I have no idea how they do this. I’m reaching out and touching the wall with one hand here.
I was usually up early because time zones and such. Plus years of night flying have destroyed any circadian rhythm I might have once had. Fortunately they had a cappuccino maker and pastries set out for us early risers.
Docked outside of Vienna. Like a lot of European cities, they built the modern skyscrapers on the outskirts.
Prior to this trip I had only stopped at the airport in Vienna and never actually seen the city. I found it to be very impressive. Beautiful, clean, efficient, artistic, historic — all of the above. I probably can’t do it justice here. Definitely go there if you ever get the chance.
I think we got a full two days in Vienna, which was nice. I could have spent more time there.
I must tell the story of the olives. We were at the huge outdoor market and decided that it would be nice to get some olives to take back to the boat for a snack later.
Or as I like to call it “Great moments in bad ideas”.
The olive vendor looked and sounded like he was either from Turkey or the Middle East somewhere. That should have tipped me off from my time in Turkey. Nice folks but they are the world’s most aggressive and persuasive salespeople. Which is how I ended up with some very nice (and priced accordingly) Turkish rugs in my house.
Long story short we ended up with a very large bag of olives that probably cost 50 euros. The vendor assured me it was vacuum sealed and would make the trip back to the states. The vacuum seal lasted maybe a day, at which point I donated them to the ship’s crew.
Basically I’m an idiot. If you buy olives in Vienna, watch the guy’s hands closely. What he’s actually showing you is maybe a third of what he’s cleverly concealing in the bag. Caveat Emptor.
If you’re in Vienna you have to stop at a coffee house. I had the obligatory Sacher Torte and Mrs. Kong had what she declared to be the best apple strudel ever.
The second day in Vienna we toured Schönbrunn Palace, which is Vienna’s answer to Versailles.
The palace was built during the reign of Maria Theresa, the only Habsburg empress.
We could spend days talking about the Habsburgs but let’s just say they were a big deal back in the day.
Maria Theresa sounds like a mixed bag. She opposed the abolition of torture, imposed censorship and had government spies arrest people who “violated social norms”. Note that meant anything from homosexuals to sex with someone of a different religion.
Wait, am I writing about Austria in the 1700s or the United States circa 2030 or so?
She did however promote public health and promote inoculation against smallpox. So there’s that.
The last Habsburg emperor ended up on the losing side of WWI, so that was pretty much the end of them as a political power. Their remnants did however oppose the Nazis and later the Communists, so kind of a mixed bag if you ask me.
(I’m sure someone here did their doctoral thesis on the Habsburgs and will correct all the stupid sh*t I probably said.)
I don’t have any pictures from inside the palace because I don’t think we were allowed to take any. Reminded me a lot of Versailles. “It’s good to be the Empress”.
Our ship was the “Atla”, named after some obscure Norse deity. Not sure what they’ll do when they run out of Norse gods to name their ships after.
Back on the river. Headed to Krems and the Austrian wine country.
Link to Part 3