Vienna, Austria 

In so far as Vienna was known to the generation of post-war Anglo-Saxons, it was most likely through the stunning black-and-white photography of Carol Reed's film version of the Graham Greene thriller, The Third Man, released in 1949. Its director succeeded triumphantly by defying the American producer's desire to cast Noel Coward in the role of Harry Lime, making the inspired choice of Orson Welles instead, and by refusing to provide the film with a Hollywood-style happy ending. Vienna herself was allowed to play the lead role, the city's war-torn melancholy grandeur conjuring up the devastation and corruption of an era. One of the most famous images of that movie is the stately progress of the giant Ferris wheel in the Prater, Vienna's famous amusement park. Now over a century old - it was built in 1897 - its swaying gondolas glide slowly to a height of 200 feet, making a full revolution once every twenty minutes.

In a delightful Lindblad touch, we began our two-day visit to this great city by making the short drive from our berth on the Danube to the Prater for a private opening of the Riesenrad, as the Ferris wheel is popularly known. We boarded the gondola in style, with a glass of champagne, and were rewarded on a perfect day of Autumn sunshine, with a magnificent overview of the city. As in so many European cities the skyline was dominated by a great Cathedral, in this case that of St Stephen. Its green, yellow and black chevron roof tiles were clearly visible as was wonderful south tower, affectionately known to the Viennese as the Steffl. The Danube was visible too, sparkling in the early morning sunshine if not conspicuously blue.

Before long we were assembling beside the cathedral in Stephanplaz to begin our walking tour of the inner city. En route we passed two famous cafes - Sacher and Demel - that produce rival versions of the chocolate and apricot dessert known as Sachertorte, that was the memorable concluding course to our lunch in the historic Griechenbeisl tavern. Previous diners there had included Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, not to mention Mark Twain and Gina Lollabrigida.

Suitably revived, we continued our cultural program with an afternoon visit to The Liechtenstein Museum, an extraordinary private art collection housed in palatial splendor, famous in particular for its remarkable collection of works by Peter Paul Rubens. Returning to River Cloud in the late afternoon, a hardy group of culture-vultures dined early before heading out again for a night at the opera!