A PRIVILEGED SUNDAY MORNING OF MUSIC, CULTURE & COFFEE
I’m an (hyper-) active soul. As much as I love pampering in a luxury spa or relaxing in my grand luxury suite, I never have time to enjoy it. Be it 2 days or 8 days, there’s always too much to see & do in a city. If I do make time, I feel guilty for not seeing more sights, learning more history or absorbing more local culture. Granted, locals always tell me I’ve done more in their city than they have living there. But I still get that nagging feeling…if only I’d had a few more days.
Vienna is no exception. Whilst most visit for 2-3 days, I spend 8 days. Hoping this’ll allow me time to relax in my luxuriant surroundings is a misconception. I spend 10-hour days on my feet, reading as I explore the city from dawn to dusk, and find myself scheduling coffee breaks and lunches! But this Sunday in Vienna is the most soul-nourishing and sublime, privileged and cultural Sunday I recall in any European city. Actually, it’s my perfect Sunday!
I’ve bagged tickets to the world-renowned Vienna Boys Choir!
No lie-in for me today (or any day in Vienna!) It may be Sunday but those in the know are up and en route. Tickets to watch this rare performance are a scarcity and I’m blessed to be in the city at the same time as they are. Concierge has bagged me tickets to the infamous and world-esteemed Vienna Boys Choir.
The venue is the gorgeous chapel ‘HofMusikkappelle’ inside the Hofburg Imperial Palace.
On arrival, I see it’s a big deal. Security is tight and people are arriving in their Sunday best. As I glance behind me, there’s even a barrier at the back of the Church, for visitors who purchase a cheap standing ticket, to catch glimpse.
Sunday Mass begins; everyone listens intently. The anticipation is electric. Soon, from above and beyond sight, a chorus of angelic voices burst into heavenly song. Pin-drop silence ensues as the boys’ vocals shower down upon an eagerly receptive audience, filling the chapel with angelic notes and pitch-perfect harmonies. The choir being out of sight is lovely as everyone tunes in solely to sound. No impressions, no judgements, no thoughts. It’s wonderful to relax and just let the sounds echo around the Church. The final performance sees a manic sense of anticipation as it’s rumoured the boys appear will before us.
When they do, the crowd is unstoppable. People rise to their feet, almost drowning out the song in a round of camera clicks and gasps of joy. The flash photography is dazzling! Still, it feels a beautiful and very privileged experience. The boys look younger than I expected and are pristinely groomed. The discipline involved in their art clearly shows.
…AND NOW TO THE SUPERB SPANISH RIDING SCHOOL EQUESTRIAN PERFORMANCE!
Still reeling from the performance, it’s time to hotfoot it across Josefplatz square to the popular Spanish Riding School. Concierge has also reserved tickets for the sell-out Sunday equestrian performance of the renowned Lipizanner stallions. They’re marvellous creatures; powerful and graceful, and are Europe’s oldest horse breed with Spanish, Italian and Oriental bloodlines. At around 80E, tickets aren’t cheap, but even so, the seats are over-subscribed as is the event, with many having bought cheap standing tickets. My seat is the second best in the house. Lavish and luxurious, the Baroque Winter Riding School is dripping in gigantic crystal chandeliers and the elegant bay windows are draped in velvet.
The level of expertise is clear as the stallions perform a variety of dressage skills and moves, perfectly in tune with the riders; either seated or standing, even behind on a Long Rein! The horses seem un-phased by thousands of expectant eyes, being used to the limelight. That is, except for one or two boisterous young stallions in training, with whom I inevitably fall in love!
The Spanish Riding School is world-famous and tours, shortly in the UK with Carl Hester, Olympic 2012 Dressage Gold Medallist, who I filmed and interviewed with the BBC as part of the Olympics coverage. If you’re a true horse lover and can’t get enough, visit the morning exercise (daily) also, as do I. This gives an insight into training before seeing the performance.
TIME FOR COFFEE…AND CAKES, VIENNA STYLE!
After a morning packed full of activity, it’s time for… you guessed it, coffee and lunch! Café Central is one of the most stunning Viennese Coffee houses. Approaching it, you can tell form the building it’s going to be a treat. But be warned, queues are usually outside the door. Worth the wait, however, as you’ve this to look forward to…
Gourmet cakes & patisseries are divine! I opt for Raspberry & Rose giant Macaroon with a Hot Chocolate topped with cream. This is the perfect Sunday afternoon tea. The ambiance is wonderful, though busy, as waiters are dressed in traditional crisp white shirts, waistcoats and polished shoes.
NEXT:Vienna’s back streets are quirky & eclectic. Vintage tobacco shops meet antique map shops, in labyrinthe cobbled alleyways. And an unexpected surprise in the back streets of Vienna’s Old Town…
- For Every Sight, a Coffee House: Vienna Insider Tips 1 (ani-shah.com)
- ONE NIGHT IN VIENNA: 1st time solo female travel Austria (ani-shah.com)
- Autumn Travel Guide To Coffee Bliss! Top 5 Cafés to Cozy Up in Vienna (jetsettimes.com)
- Vienna Boys Choir Amazes At Grace Cathedral (wibw.com)