A 100-hour Visit to the Austrian-Hungarian Empire
Vienna, Europe's central power
For centuries, Vienna was the capital of one of Europe’s most powerful kingdoms, the The Austro-Hungarian Empire.
The city was also the seat of the Holy Roman Empire, an historical political entity once decried by French philosopher Voltaire as neither holy, nor Roman nor an empire. However, where there is power, there is wealth, and where there is wealth there is art!
Parnassos holds the keys – literally – to the grandeur of the past. From Wednesday 28th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022 we invite you to join us in opening the doors to bygone glory.
Overture - Palais Coburg
Our trip starts at the Palais Coburg in Vienna, currently host to the nuclear negotiations between Iran and world powers.
The palace boasts an award-winning wine cellar of more than 55,000 bottles, and our journey starts here with a guided tour, exploring aisles bristling with bottles from the likes of Mouton Rothschild and Chateau d’Yquem; an assortment that has achieved the Grand Award from Wine Spectator for several years in a row.
Several thousands of bottles later we will reach the champagne cellar, where a glass from the Reims district will await us.
Please note, there are strict regulations for this. We have to leave our mobile phones – photography is not allowed – outside of the cellar.
Tonight’s included dinner is served by the palace’s kitchen. We will be seated in the luxury of Der Gelbe Raum (the Yellow Room) where the food and drink will be served on Christofle silverware plates and Riedel glasses. (Don’t worry, we have taken out insurance against any accidents).
The Esterházy Palace in Eisenstadt
On Thursday at 1pm, a bus will pick us up from our hotel, for the journey to the Esterházy Palace, 35 miles outside Vienna.
Apart from being one of the world’s most beautiful baroque palaces – known as the Versailles of Central Europe – this castle is steeped in Classical music history. The composer Joseph Haydn lived and worked here from 1761 for nearly 30 years. The founder of Viennese Classicism, Haydn was Beethoven’s music teacher and a mentor to Mozart.
We will enjoy an exclusive concert in the extraordinarily beautiful Haydn Saal, where Haydn and his orchestra performed his compositions for the Austrian aristocracy. A quartet from the city’s Joseph Haydn Conservatory will perform works that would have been heard here in the18th century.
After the concert we will enjoy private access to the palace’s enormous terrace, where the resident sommelier will discuss the wines produced here, with an included tasting. Part of Haydn’s salary consisted of wines from the palace, giving us the opportunity to sample what was on his payslip.
Hausmannskost in Vienna
Early on Thursday evening we will return to Vienna, where we will take a break from Renaissance, Goth, Rococo, Baroque and Viennese Classicism with some Viennese home-style cooking.
We have found the perfect Heuriger restaurant where we will have a three-course Wienerschnitzel menu served in gemütlichkeit. (Vegetarian option available.)
*Everything described here is included in the price. See the pdf file at the bottom, where you can see what you exactly get for your money.
Friday sees us exploring Vienna through the centuries from a double decker bus, under the guidance of Gerti Schmidt, director of the Austrian Tourism Organization.
She will be giving us insights into a city that no one knows better than her. Highlights include Belvedère Castle, Schönbrun Palais, Zentral Friedhof and places only Gerti knows about.
In the city centre, just behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral – where Mozart and Haydn both got married – we find Das Mozarthaus, the building where Mozart and his wife Constanze lived in the final years of his far-too-short life.
Today, the house is a museum, which closes to the public daily at 6pm, but on this night Parnassos has the keys to the house and we have Mozart’s home to ourselves.
The museum staff will guide us through Mozart’s life and work, followed by a concert in Mozart Hall, in the building’s basement, where pianist Richard Tauber will perform music composed by Mozart under this very same roof.
After the sound of music, we can enjoy the surroundings and feel the spirit of Mozart while partaking in drinks and nibbles. (Included.)
Baroqued-out in Vienna
There will be a number of options for Saturday. You could just enjoy the shopping: when it comes to clothes, for example, the price difference between Copenhagen or London and Vienna is quite noticeable; or you can join us in one of a number of included guided trips, splitting into smaller groups. Details of these options will be provided a few weeks before departure, but some examples might be:
Prostitution in Vienna
Gerti Schmidt will guide us to the indecencies of the past. At the beginning of the 19th century there were sinfully many prostitutes in Vienna, with estimates putting it at more than 10,000 at any given time.
Vienna resident Johannes Brahms was probably a frequent guest, and many composers died of syphilis or other sexually transmitted diseases, including another resident, the composer Franz Schubert. Of course, we don’t need to have this in mind when we listen to their music.
A visit to the Hundertwasser Museum.
Vienna is also a city where there are a number of very fine auction houses, and there will be a visit to one of these.
A walk through the city to learn about the Jewish population in the 19th century.
A visit to the chambers of Sissi, the Empress whose life will remind you of Lady Diana.
A trip to Austrian billionaire Heidi Horten’s museum, the Heidi Horten Collection, which opens in the summer of 2022, and should be second to none.
The Vienna State Opera is one of the finest opera and ballet houses in the world.
Stepping into the building is both mythical and magical. Dating from 1869 it has hosted some of the greatest artists ever since. The composer Gustav Mahler was the chief conductor for a decade, from 1897 onwards.
And as it has just been announced. We are going to see ‘Rigoletto’ by Giuseppe Verdi with a formidable cast. We have ordered tickets at € 79, which will give us seats in group 5 out of 9. We believe that’s the best value for money. A glass of champagne awaits us in the interval and is included in the overall price.
If you want to upgrade (the following price ranges are € 100, € 141, € 190 and € 215) do let us know and we will reserve the seats for you. We will then charge the difference from the €79. The champagne, of course, will still be included in the price.
But no matter where you sit, the hours in this hall will be the artistic highlight of the weekend.
There are subtitle screens in all seats in the theatre, with the lyrics translated in various languages, including English. You can also choose to simply turn off the screen.
The opera ends at around 10 pm, at which point we shall see what Vienna has to offer for the rest of the evening.
Lotte Heise's Vienna
Model, actor, talk-show host and much more, Lotte Heise doesn’t require any introduction to a Danish audience.
For close to a decade she has been responsible for Denmark Radio program Bravo, broadcast every Saturday. The program is dedicated to opera and only opera.
As can be deduced, not many know more about opera than Lotte Heise. She has visited Vienna countless of times, and never without visiting the Vienna State Opera.
Lotte joins us Saturday, where she has promised to give us a brief introduction to opera, followed by an introduction to Rigoletto we will attend the same evening.
An der schönen blauen Donau
Sunday morning – not too early – our bus brings us to Archduke Ferdinand’s castle – the prince whose assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 ignited World War I.
From there we will head to the banks of the Danube, where we will embark on a river boat which, will take us through German romance whilst we enjoy our lunch.
NB: We will be back in Vienna no later than 5 pm. This means that if you are flying home on Sunday evening you should book a flight for after 8pm. We look further at the logistics and needs as we approach our trip.
On the way back to Vienna, the bus will be able to drop you off at an appropriate point for travel to the airport. If you wish to do this you should bring your suitcase with you on the bus.
Hotel Grand Ferdinand
To get the most out of five star experiences, it obviously is best to stay in a five-star hotel.
You’ll find Hotel Grand Ferdinand near the city center, 3 minutes from the Musikverein – another legendary concert hall – and 6 minutes from the Vienna State Opera. The hotel offers three restaurants and a lounge / club as well as a swimming pool at the top of the hotel.
Members of the club and hotel guests have access to it. The ‘ambiance’ of the place is in itself an experience. Our rooms are standard rooms. You can of course upgrade.
As mentioned in ”the shop” all standard rooms in Ferdinand are now occupied on those days (crises, what crises?). We have an alternative in the form of the five-star hotel Intercontinental, just around the corner of Ferdinand. Or you can upgrade to “comfort” rooms in Ferdinand, which are still available. You will hereby get 50% more space for 500 dkk/night. (around 66€/night). Alternatively, you may wish to find a hotel yourself hereby saving 4000 dkk/person. You will of course still have full access to all the above “five star” events.
Princess Anita von Hohenberg's reception
And finally, as mentioned in the above text, we will visit Schloss Artstetten Sunday 2nd October. It is with great pride and honor we can announce that the archduke Ferdinand’s great-granddaughter, princess Anita von Hohenberg, who lives on the upper floors of the castle, will receive us at her Rote Salon for a champagne-reception.
You can read more about this event via our August month’s newsletter. Feel free to subscribe via this link.
And our purpose is?
We want to create exclusive experiences – without excluding anyone.
Granted, our tours are not among the cheapest, but they are still accessible to most of those who walk in the footsteps of Hans Christian Andersen, the Danish poet who once said, ‘to travel is to live’. (He visited Vienna several times).
The ‘trick’ is to be a large group. We’re talking about 50+ people. Being many has its own dynamic. And a larger budget allows us to offer truly unique adventures, that surely will be beyond most of us if we acted on our own.
Our purpose is to tear us away from our day to day lives, to ensure that when you are back home again, you will ask yourself, ‘did I really experience what I think I experienced’?
Your camera will confirm. Except for the Coburg wine cellars – they must remain in the chambers of your memory.