Vienna is a delightful city, full of historic buildings, palaces and churches. It's a place of opera, ballet, tasty sweets, the Spanish Riding School (with its famed Lipizzaner stallions) and more.
The capital of Austria also is a place that I find can be easily explored during an early morning run on its well-marked biking/walking/running paths. I made my second visit to Vienna on a recent cruise on AmaWaterways' new river cruise ship AmaViola on the Danube River. On our stop in Vienna, which sits right alongside the river, I started my Sunday morning with a run through a quiet city. I have run in many cities and towns around the world, usually with a camera in tow to snap pics as I make my way past interesting spots, and in Vienna, my route brought me through neighborhoods in which my only company was residents walking their dogs.
The views along the Danube were as stunning as you would expect just after sunrise. (I was surprised to see so many rabbits inhabiting the greenery along the banks of the river.)
This jog was just the start to my day exploring Vienna, though. Once again, I was off to tour the city by foot. My previous river cruise to Vienna just about two years earlier left me fairly well-acquainted with the top sites to see, and one of the best is the sprawling and busy Stephansplatz, the main city square in which the city's iconic St. Stephen's Cathedral rises to almost 450 feet at its highest point (the South Tower). The Gothic church, which dates back 700 years, is a beloved landmark for the Viennese. Composer Joseph Haydn sang in the choir as a youngster, and Mozart was married there.
To climb the 343 stairs of the South Tower of St. Stephen's Cathedral, you enter through a small door on the exterior of the structure, pay at a ticket window and head up the staircase.
This is no ordinary staircase, either. It starts out innocently enough before quickly narrowing. The whole process feels as if you are trying to climb up a straw.
Tiny windows offered a glimpse over the city as we continued to rise, first reaching a small chamber, then a bell housing, before finally emerging to the payoff. The old watchman's lookout room (now, a gift shop, of course) sits some 245 feet above street level, which means it's just over halfway up the total height of the tower. Four windows provide incredibly scenic views over Vienna, one window for each direction. I pulled out my camera, snapped a pic through each one and soon after started my dizzying descent.
Till next time, thanks for reading and always travel happy.