Nom de Plumage

February 9, 2013

Horses Reign Supreme

Whatever your predilection is to horses or horse performances, the Spanish Riding School has been a legendary institute that has through the centuries, dazzled and wowed the audiences. There are not many of these types of performances in the world and certainly none with the same reputation as the one here in Vienna. For me, there never was going to be the choice of whether I should go or not, but which price I should pay for the privilege. For a seated performance, it costs 89 euros and for standing, a reasonable 23 euros.

When I arrived, the direction to entrance  the hall, was not stated very well. In fact I was somewhat lost and hoped to find other’s to guide me. I found a door and stood outside with some other people, who are just as lost and confused as I am. So we all stood together, waiting and praying that all will be well. I met a lovely man from the US named Patrick and since the both of us were here alone, we started talking about  our respective travels and it helped to forget the bitter cold that no winter jacket or boots could compete with. Further down, we saw other  lost ticket holders move towards a now opened wooden door and it was quickly established, that we had indeed stood at the wrong door. A quick dash in an orderly manner and we were ushered in and shown to our seating. Patrick and I said our goodbyes. For those people who have a standing only ticket, there is no designated place that you have to stand. All around the outer perimeter and behind the seated area, are areas with elevated wooden benches that you can choose were you wish to stand. I choose somewhere in the middle of the arena and just behind the seats. In fact, I was happy to discover that the 66 euro price difference, gave you the same unobstructed view.

No photo’s are allowed once the horses enter and that is for the simple reason, that the many multitude of flashes will spook the horses. So I got a quick photo in of the arena and then went to buy an expensive tourist book, for a souvenir of my memorable experience.

The Lipinanzer horses are a unique breed, especially bred and trained for this riding school. Born a dark dirty grey colour, it is when they mature that their coats change to a pure white colour. Some of the horses still had traces of grey somewhere on their coats, a sure sign of still being a teenager. The eighty minute performance was beautiful and each horse masters the precision in executing their moves. One cannot help but be in awe of their elegance and beauty, but also of the countless hours spent in training. I certainly enjoyed the performance, although I cannot say that for everyone because one couple kissed throughout the whole spectacle . Oh well, guess horses are not their thing.

The weather was not going to be kind today. Heavy dark clouds came over and the temperature just kept getting colder. But I was not going to be deterred and I got onto the U-Bahn (train) and made my way to the very popular Schonbrun Castle. From the train station, it is an easy ten minute walk up the very expansive driveway to the castle. What was a special treat, a Christmas market had been set up at the front and it is quite large. Here, for the first time since Paris, I encountered a huge queue of people purchasing entrance tickets. My only bonus for not having to wait in the long line, was that I had purchased a ‘Vienna Card’ and that got me through much quicker. Entrance price is 11,40 euros, with no tour guide to accompany you, only a set of headphones. Personally, I like the tour guides better because they tend to add that little bit more information that recorded guides do not. There is also that element of it being more personal and you can asks questions. Times are changing and with the massive onset of tourists, changes need to be made.

The majestic schloss is several hundred years old, but it was only during the regal era of Empress Maria Teresa, that it truly became what we have the privilege to see today. The interior is of the unique Rococo style, with a lot of gold gilding, stunning tapestries and beautiful portraits of family members. Two rooms, that for me personally were the most remarkable, was Maria Teresa’s marriage bedroom and a room dedicated to the drawings of her children. The bedroom had a stunning bed, one that has outshone all the previous royal family beds that I have seen to-date. The other room, is predominately of two colours; blue and white. Framed drawings of her children and grandchildren, are beautifully arranged to dominate the four walls.

Outside, I wish I can write that the gardens were in full bloom and the sun shone. In fact, it was very cold, the snow covered the majority of the landscape and not a flower in sight. It still is a massive garden and one still used by many families who come here with their children for a walk. I am sure it is stunning in summer and spring.

The sun was slowly disappearing in the horizon and my tummy was in need of some nourishment. I made my way to the Christmas market and was in awe of the choice of food. I had to try something different and yet discovered that it is not so different from the food that I have been brought up on. Thick noodles generously coated  in ground hazelnuts and dusted with sugar. Now that is comfort food and it may not be wholesome and adhere to dietary requirements, but damn it tasted so good and I thought of my mum and really missed her home cooking. Now, I have personally stopped counting how many gluwein’s I have had, but need I write that I had another one and it really warmed my insides up because the cold was so bitter.


Brilliantly converted into a restaurant

Brilliantly converted into a restaurant




The front view

The front view


The main fountain

The main fountain


A beautiful evening

A beautiful evening

DSC00077English: Spanische Hofreitschule in Vienna.

English: Spanische Hofreitschule in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Vienna (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Spanische Hofreitschule in Vienna.

English: Spanische Hofreitschule in Vienna. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



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