Another early day…..we needed a wake-up call to get up early enough to pack and have one last breakfast with our “boat buddies,” Bob & Judy and Carlos & Carlene. Bob and Judy are headed back home (hopefully with fewer problems than they had getting to the ship) and Carlos and Carlene are spending Christmas in Vienna with his daughter and her family.
We were out of the cabin at 8:00, right on schedule. We settled in the lounge while Elena, our tour director, called a cab for us. Blaine, from New Jersey, joined us and added our email address to his roster of fellow passengers wanting to share pictures….then the three of us just kicked back and shared memories of these past few days that seem like so much more. Our cab arrived and we bid “auf wiedersehen” to the Amadeus Royal.
Our cab driver, who spoke no English, did know the location of Pension Pertschy and soon dropped us off under a crane in front of the scaffold-shrouded hotel. An auspicious introduction to a charming hotel. The hotel’s street entrance leads to an interior courtyard. The reception desk and rooms, on the upper floors, are reached by an interior stairway or an exterior elevator.
Although we arrived early, our room was waiting for us…..another floor up, through a doorway, down a hall and around a corner. Craig turned the key slowly….once, then twice and voila! We entered a spacious, utterly romantic room with a sparkling chandelier overhead.
After yesterday’s fast-paced itinerary, we decided to have a low-key day. On an impulse, I logged-in to the Vienna Opera website and found that we could get tickets for tonight’s performance of Mozart’s “Don Giovanni.” We’re not opera fans…..we’ve only been to a local production in Livermore…..and it was ok. But this is Vienna…..and Mozart…..and the Opera House. One swift “click” and we knew what today’s agenda would be……a late lunch and an early opera.
We walked a few blocks down the Graben, one of the many pedestrian walkways in Vienna, and found Reinthaler’s Biesl…..a warm, cozy restaurant with myriad rooms and lots of diners enjoying loud conversations. We were seated at a table with another gentlemen….a German, here on business, just finishing his lunch. He lives in Germany near the French border and encouraged us to come up for the Strasbourg Christmas Market. He also bemoaned Austrian beer, Belgian beer and French beer….insisting that the only good beer is German beer. He soon left us and we were alone with our sausages and Austrian beer….which we thought was pretty good.
Walking back to the hotel to get ready for the Opera, it occurred to us that we might need to dress for the event. Fortunately, all I needed to do was add a scarf to an all black ensemble. Craig, who seems to have lost his jacket when we were leaving San Francisco, was more clothes-challenged. When we stopped at the hotel’s Reception Desk to ask if the opera has a dress code, the young man behind the counter looked up in astonishment….but of course! It’s a state affair! He took pity on Craig and loaned him a tie. After changing into a shirt, tie and sweater, Craig returned to the Reception Desk and met with a pleased look…..it’s not formal wear but he passed muster…..as verified by the smiles behind the desk.
We hurriedly walked to the Opera….scheduled to begin at 6:30. After some confusion about checking our coats (the coat check on the ground floor is only available to people seated on the ground floor) and getting our tickets (since we booked them so late, they hadn’t been printed yet), we finally had our tickets in hand and were headed up to our to our seats on the second level.
We’re taken to our seats…..we have a balcony box! I’ve always wanted to sit in a balcony box…..just like Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman” (woo hoo!). We hung our coats in the box’s anteroom (scoffing at those poor souls who will need to wait in line to retrieve theirs) and took our seats….two of the eight in the box.
Our box was next to the stage directly above the orchestra……bringing fears that we’d be unable to see much of the opera, but we only missed the very few scenes that were upstage-right. It was absolutely incredible to sit so close to the stage that we could see the singers’ facial expressions…..and then to turn around and see the entirety of the opera house…..rows and rows of seats filled with rapt listeners. Incredible, amazing, phenomenal…..words that just scratch at the surface of what we were feeling as we watched, listened and breathed-in this performance.
After it was over and the audience was giving ovation after ovation, the woman seated next to us pulled out the biggest bouquet of red roses I’ve ever seen and, with all her might, threw them on stage for Dona Elvira….who, curtain call after curtain call, never saw them. Our box-mate shouted out each time until finally Don Giovanni himself saw the predicament, walked to our side of the stage, retrieved the flowers and presented them to Dona Elvira with a flourish…… to the smiles and applause of the six occupants of Box #1.