The ladies lodged for three days in the Art Hotel, which was filled with contemporary paintings.
“We were immersed in culture straight away,” says guild PRO Maura Walsh.
Their first full day saw them at the morning exercises of the Lipizanner horses at the Hofburg Palace.
“They’re a mix of Spanish and Arabic horses. The foals are born black — they go white as they age. The horses were practising some of their routines and it was all done to beautiful classical music,” says Maura.
They took a lift up the South Tower of St Stephen’s Cathedral, where they basked in views over Vienna.
“When we came down, we were very lucky. A high-school choir from the US was performing Schubert hymns. It was such a beautiful treat.”
At the Museum of Fine Arts, they saw a roomful of Caravaggio paintings and later that night heard Mozart and Strauss at a concert in the Kursalon.
“After all, one couldn’t visit Vienna without a waltz or two!” The tour also took in Schonbrunn Palace and gardens and the Opera House.
Cappamore Guild members are big into travel and, when an itinerary is drawn up, nothing’s set in stone.
“If someone doesn’t want to go here, there or anywhere, they don’t have to. And if someone really wants to see something, we’ll try to fix it that they do.”
So — for those who wanted ‘just this much culture and no more’ — there were plenty of opportunities to savour Sachertorte (chocolate cake) and apple strudel in Vienna’s coffee houses.
“Or sit in the sun if you didn’t want to fill up on calories — we soon discarded our hats, scarves and gloves because it was 22 degrees.”
ICA member Margaret Coffey celebrated her birthday in Vienna.
“Her husband had a word in my ear. We went to an Italian restaurant that night. They had all these celebrity photos. Plácido Domingo and Pavarotti had eaten there,” says Maura.
The beauty of travelling with Cappamore ICA, she says, is how flexible it all is.
“There’s nobody you have to be humouring, no one you’d worry about sitting next to. We’re blessed with the group we have.”
On the return trip, the ladies were already thinking ‘where to next?’ Maybe Reykjavík, maybe New York — it’s all very democratic.