11 Day Austria, Germany, Prague & the Passion Play



DAY 1:  USA / VIENNA.  Depart USA for Europe. Breakfast and dinner will be served aloft.

DAY 2:  VIENNA.  Upon arrival at the airport we are met and transferred to our hotel.  The balance of the day is at our leisure with dinner and overnight.

DAY 3:  VIENNA.  After a nights rest and hearty breakfast, we visit some of the most important historical sights of Vienna.  We start with a visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral – Austria’s most eminent Gothic edifice which houses a wealth of art treasures.  Then, we pass by the Hofburg Palace, winter residence of the Habsburg emperors; the Capuchin Church, which contains the imperial vaults; St. Charles’ Church, a splendid example of late Baroque architecture; and the Belvedere Palace, former residence of Prince Eugene of Savoy.  We drive around the Ring, one of the most magnificent boulevards in the world, passing the Vienna Opera, Museums, House of Parliament, City Hall and the Burgtheater.  In the afternoon, we tour the Schönbrunn Palace - one of the most important cultural monuments in Austria and since the 1860s has also been one of the major tourist attractions in Vienna.  The palace and gardens illustrate the tastes, interests and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 4:  VIENNA.  After breakfast this morning, we drive across the Danube Valley to visit the Shrine of Maria Taferl.  Originally a pagan place of sacrifice, two shepherds were healed in front of a simple wooden cross after their prayer.  After lunch, we continue to Melk to visit the Benedictine Abbey, crowning the rocky hill overlooking the Danube.  It is the best sample of Baroque architecture in Austria.  The Abbey, founded in 1702, has a library which contains over 80,000 books and 2,000 manuscripts of religious subjects.  At the end of the day, we return to Vienna for dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 5:  VIENNA / SALZBURG.  This morning, we bid adieu to Vienna and make our way to the “Sound of Music” city of Salzburg.  We drive across spectacular forested mountains, rushing streams and small market towns, stopping at Mariazell – a favorite Viennese resort.  Here we visit the Shrine of Mariazell – a famous pilgrimage center in Austria dedicated to the Blessed Mother.  The Shrine was founded in 1157 by a monk, who built a small shelter (“Zell”) in the woods to protect a statue of the Blessed Mother.  In the past, the Mariazell Baroque Church has been rebuilt several times, in different architectural styles, and still houses the old statue.  We celebrate Mass here.  After lunch, we continue along the Austrian Lake District, with marvelous views of the Salzkammergut.  Then, we arrive at the beautiful city of Salzburg – a jewel set on the scenic banks of the Salzach River.  Dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 6:  SALZBURG.  Following breakfast this morning, we proceed to the Shrine of Maria Plain to celebrate Mass.  Next, we begin our tour of Salzburg’s sights along the Getreidegasse – the City’s pedestrian avenue, lined with authentic 17th & 18th century buildings including the house where Mozart was born.  Afterwards, we view Monchsberg with the fortress “Hohensalzburg” which overlooks the city.  We see the Residenzplaz – the center square of Salzburg, dominated by the dynamic sculpture of the Cathedral dating from 1614.  Next, we visit St. Peter’s Abbey, next to the cemetery where the escape was filmed in “The Sound of Music” and where most of Mozart’s religious works were premiered.  After lunch, we have the remainder of the day at our leisure for pursuits of our own.  We may stop in at one of Salzburg’s many cafés for ice coffe or hot chocolate and cake – a tradition that Austrians enjoy.  Perhaps we may explore the city further on our own and discover Salzburg’s many breathtaking churches, fountains and famous residences such as the house where Mozart was born.  Another option is to take the cogwheel train up to the mighty Hohensalzburg Fortress – the former residence of the powerful Archbishops of Salzburg.  From the terrace high above the city, we can enjoy a breathtaking view of the old town with its never-ending charm.  Tonight, we have dinner and Mozart Show at Peterskeller.

DAY 7:  SALZBURG / HOHENSCHWANGAU / ETTAL / OBERAMMERGAU.  After a nights rest & hearty breakfast, we depart Salzburg & travel to Neuschwanstein Castle, near Hohenschwangau.  This Cinderella-style castle is the former residence of King Ludwig.  Following lunch, we arrive at Ettal to visit the Monastery.  Almost 2,700 feet above sea level, it is located in a narrow mountain valley of the Western Alpine foothills.  Here, we celebrate Mass before continuing on to Oberammergau.  Dinner and overnight.

DAY 8:  PASSION PLAY.  The whole day is devoted to attending a performance of the world famous Passion Play, held once every ten years in this tiny alpine village.  Dinner and overnight.

DAY 9:  OBERAMMERGAU / ALTOTTING / PRAGUE.  Following breakfast this morning, we depart Oberammergau & travel to Altotting.  Here we stop for a visit to the Marian Shrine and celebrate Mass at St. Konrad Church.  After lunch, we continue on to Prague for dinner and overnight at our hotel.

DAY 10:  PRAGUE.  After breakfast, we tour Prague, including Hradacany, Loretto Church, St. Vitus Cathedral, the Royal Castle, St. George Basilica, the Golden Land, Mala Strana, St. Nicholas Church.  We celebrate Mass at Our Lady Victorious.  Following lunch, we cross the Charles Bridge to the Old Town seeing the Astronomical Clock & Our Lady before Tyn.  The balance of the day is at our leisure before returning to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

DAY 11:  PRAGUE/ USA.  Transfer this morning to the airport for our return home - the end of our memorable tour.