Exclusive Partners, Exclusive Places

Posted by Mary-Frances Walsh on 6/24/2015
Posted in: Tauck’s Travelogue
Tags: Europe, history, Italy, Jazz, Michelangelo, New Orleans, River Cruise, Sistine Chapel, Vatican, Vatican Museums, Vienna, Rome, Louisiana

tauck partnership vaticanTauck’s partnerships with top venues around the world mean that our guests have access to places that others can only dream about – and to amazing experiences on our travel tours. Here are our Top 5 Tauck Exclusives for 2015, accessible only with Tauck.

Schönbrunn Palace

This December, Habsburg history and Baroque splendor come together at Schönbrunn Palace for an elegant start to the evening on The Tauck Vienna Event (December 29, 2015 – January 3, 2016). Tauck guests may feel as if they’ve time traveled back to Imperial times as they enjoy an after-hours tour and private cocktail party at the sumptuous palace.

schonbrunn palaceSchönbrunn was refashioned by the Habsburg empress, Maria Theresa, in the 1740s and 1750s. As her favorite residence, she oversaw its transformation from a late-summer hunting lodge into a stunning palace and gardens – and a suitable symbol for the powerful Habsburg monarchy.

Part of what makes Schönbrunn fascinating is that its Imperial apartments and staterooms were frozen in time on November 11, 1918. On that day armistice ended WWI and Emperor Charles I relinquished his authority to the State of Austria. Schönbrunn was left behind by the Habsburg monarchy, forever.

Inside, lit by crystal chandeliers and warmed by white porcelain tile stoves, are the Vieux Laque Room where Napoleon met with his generals during his 1805 Austrian campaigns; the Blue Chinese Room where the last Habsburg emperor gave up his crown; the Rococo Room of Millions, covered floor-to-ceiling with Indian and Persian miniatures; the Grand Gallery, where Austrian State receptions are held; and the Hall of Mirrors, where six-year-old Mozart performed in 1772.

Schönbrunn Palace is also visited on Warsaw, Budapest, Vienna & Prague; The Blue Danube; Amsterdam to Budapest by Riverboat; Danube Reflections & Tauck Bridges The Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure.

Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel

Founded in the early 16th century, the chapels and galleries of the Vatican Museums house collections of Egyptian mummies, Roman antiquities, paintings by Renaissance masters, classical statues and more. Even the mosaic floors are works of art! On an exclusive after-hours visit,
Tauck guests enjoy the works in an intimate way, shared with only their fellow group travelers and
a local expert.

sistine chapelAs they follow the museum’s passages, they’ll be
led to the ultimate “wow” of the Sistine Chapel. Michelangelo painted its ceiling between 1508 and 1512, portraying scenes from the Old Testament, figures of the prophets and sibyls who predicted the coming of Christ, and the Ignudi, a series of idealized male nudes. Michelangelo’s painted figures are bold, elegant, and confident, conveying the optimism of Italy’s High Renaissance period.

Twenty years later, Michelangelo returned to paint the wall behind the chapel’s altar with a change of heart. In The Last Judgment he portrays scenes from the New Testament, with Christ looking down in judgment upon those destined for Heaven or Hell. Michelangelo’s painted figures, this time around, are disproportionate and disturbing. They seem to convey a sense of the Church’s upheaval during the Protestant Reformation.

Either way, when Tauck guests experience the art
within the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel on Classic Italy or The Sweet Life: Rome & Sorrento – without shoulder-to-shoulder crowds, the response is uniformly, “Magnifico!”

After-hours visits are also included on these additional Tauck trips that visit Rome: Classic Italy, Small Groups; Italian Lakes, Venice, Florence & Rome; A Week In… Venice, Florence & Rome; The Heart of Italy: Venezia, Firenze & Roma; A Week In… Rome, The Amalfi Coast & Capri; & Tauck Bridges Italia Bella: Rome to Venice and Grand European Family Holiday.

Palais Pallavicini

palais pallaviciniTucked between Vienna’s Imperial Palace and the Spanish Riding School, Palais Pallavicini is a privately owned city jewel, where Tauck guests will enjoy a private holiday luncheon on Christmas Markets Along the Danube.

Palais Pallavicini, built by one of Vienna’s richest residents, has long been known for its concerts and balls; Beethoven and Schubert were frequently on the guest lists. In 1800, Daniel Steibelt, a piano virtuoso from Berlin, found himself competing at the palace with the young Ludwig van Beethoven in an improvisation contest. The two pianists played back and forth until a winner (Beethoven) was declared.

In 1842, the palace was purchased by Alfons Pallavicini, an Italian of noble descent who served in Empress Maria Theresa’s Imperial Services. More than 170 years later, Pallavicini’s descendents remain residents in parts of the building and the palace continues to be used for official State receptions.

In the 1950s, Palais Pallavicini became known as the fictitious home of Harry Lime in The Third Man. The spy classic was set in a quite different Vienna – a shadowy, Cold War city of intrigue. But this December, when Tauck guests enter the palace they’ll head up the grand staircase to the ornate white, gold and chandeliered festsaal, the gilded setting for Tauck’s private Christmas luncheon. Guests will experience the arts of Viennese hospitality and holiday cheer.

Also including Palais Pallavicini experiences are: The Blue Danube, Amsterdam to Budapest by Riverboat; Danube Reflections; Musical Magic Along the Blue Danube & Tauck Bridges’ The Blue Danube: Family Riverboat Adventure.

Preservation Hall

preservation hall350 nights of the year, in the heart of the French Quarter, one can hear the rhythms of New Orleans jazz being honored yet once again by ensembles of local musicians. Tauck guests will know they’ve arrived for their private concert here by the letters that spell out “Preservation Hall” on battered instrument cases hung above the entry gate.

Inside, they’ll enter a space that’s hosted presidents, prime ministers and movie stars. Musician Tom Waits called it a “sacred space,” and Louis Armstrong said it’s a place, “where you’ll find all the greats.” Had Preservation Hall not been established here in 1961, this American art form may have been lost forever.

The roots of Preservation Hall date back to the 1950s, when the owner of “Mr. Larry’s Gallery” routinely invited local jazz musicians to rehearse in his small art gallery as a way to attract patrons. Performers included George Lewis, Punch Miller, Sweet Emma Barrett, Kidd Thomas Valentine and many more.

Among today’s legends, these musicians found themselves at the time growing older and challenged by discrimination and poverty. Rock ‘n roll and bebop were overtaking the world of jazz, making gigs hard to find. By playing for tips in Mr. Larry’s “kitty hall,” they gave new life to an aging musical form rooted in blues, ragtime, and the funeral dirges of New Orleans’ spiritual life.

The evening jam sessions at the hall proved so popular that Mr. Larry moved to a larger space next door, where Preservation Hall stands today. “Larger” is a misnomer, for the space remains an intimate, dimly lit room with wooden floorboards and simple benches for seating. Yet, the hall has been deemed a shrine to the art of jazz. On New Orleans: Bayous & the Big Easy, Tauck guests will experience a wonderful sense of showmanship and a taste of joy.

Hartley's Crocodile Adventures

crocodileOne of the most beautiful coastal drives in Queensland, Australia, brings Tauck guests to the “Wet Tropics,” a World Heritage Area, and Hartley’s Crocodile Adventures. At this wildlife park, the staff members take their role in wildlife and habitat conservation seriously but share it with an infectious dose of fun.

As a showcase for ecotourism, the park’s landscaping is a profusion of native plants. And in addition to the main attraction, the crocodiles, there are brilliant birds, flashing fish, lazy lizards and timid turtles – all of which are found locally in the wild alongside the crocs.

Crocodiles are the largest living reptiles on Earth and one of the few remaining links its prehistoric past. Culturally, they are also the focus of Aboriginal stories, songs and art. Until 1974, crocodiles were hunted to near extinction. Today they are being bred in captivity at Hartley’s – farmed for their meat and skin as a way to support efforts to increase an understanding of the “croc’s” role in the wild.

On Grand Australia & New Zealand Tauck guests experience a private lagoon cruise at Hartley’s in a setting that is exactly like the crocodiles’ natural habitat. Lazing on the banks, these other-worldly creatures interact with one another as they would in the wild. It’s an intimate opportunity for Tauck guests to learn about crocodile biology and behavior, and why it matters that a habitat crucial to Australia’s birds, plants and mammals be preserved – not to mention take in the surrounding beauty.


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