IF YOU want to win the heart of a lady then take her across to Venice for a romantic holiday.
Alongside of Paris this jewel in Italy must rank as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
Our visit to the town that floats came at the back end of a long trip that entailed a number of European stops and in hindsight if we did the journey again I would start in Venice.
As the gondolas slowly cruise past you can only imagine what the terraces that overlook the canals hold inside.
Locals watch the passing flotilla from their balconies sipping a freshly made latte.
You wish you could join them for a week or two.
It's not a cheap place to stay and it is sometimes hard to even get a bed for one night, but don't despair; Venice just can't be missed.
My only complaint was that our stay was all too brief.
After embracing beautiful balmy weather throughout Europe we weren't prepared for our next and final stop in Vienna.
Someone turned the temperature gauge down and brisk wind rattled your bones as the mercury dropped to 11 degrees.
We had booked most of the way through Europe with the Holiday Inn group and once again it was a good choice in Vienna with a large two-bedroom room ideal after some cramped quarters else-where.
Vienna holds some classical encounters but none quite like the Schonbrunn Palace.
More than eight million people a year visit the former home of Austria's monarchy who were deposed in 1919.
The palace is a time warp and it stands as it was almost 100 years ago.
The original baroque furnishings, intricate tapestry and haunting portraits of the royal family adorn the rooms.
As part of your $20 entry fee you are handed a small radio which is programmed to guide you through some of the Palace's 1441 rooms.
In one room the radio told me how a five-year-old Mozart had performed here for Princess Lizbeth.
“He finished his performance, ran across to the princess and sat on her lap,” my remote tour guide told me.
That room alone was worth paying the entry fee to visit.
Of course if you are in Vienna you must attend a concert and despite the protests from my 12-year-old daughter we bought our $70 tickets for the Mozart performance that night at the Palace.
So now we can all say yes, we have attended the opera in Vienna.
Was the performance worth it?
I say yes, my wife agrees, although the daughter will tell you she slept through most of it.
After three days in Vienna our trip was at a close. We had visited numerous cities throughout Europe and found each one fascinating.
We will be back, but first of all we will have to pay off the credit card bill.
As they say in Italy:
Fino a quando incontriamo ancora il mio amico
(Until we meet again, my friend)
Boscolo Bellini Hotel Venice, $130 a night.
Holiday Inn Vienna City, $140 a night.
Schonbrunn Palace Tour $20 each.
Mozart Concert, Vienna $70 each.
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