I went to Vienna for a work conference over a long weekend. The conference was good, but I was really surprised by how much I liked Vienna. Even in February. Even with snow everywhere.
Well…there is more to the story. Vienna is the home to the Spanish Riding School. I told you I used to ride–all the time–right? Vienna is beautiful. And I would love to go back in the summer to see Belvedere in green. But the real reason I loved Vienna was because of the horses at the Spanish Riding School. I may or may not have walked down by the riding school multiple times just to catch a glimpse of the horses busy eating in their stalls.
I unfortunately am too dedicated and actually went to the conference instead of skipping some of the best talks to see the horses perform. But that’s ok, I’m familiar with all of their moves from my knowledge of classical dressage, so it was just as fun to tour the stables and see them in person later. All of the horses there are Lipizzaners, which are bred on the Austrian National Stud Farm. The school itself is also stunning, particularly the arena of the Winter Riding School, which was built from 1729 to 1735.I honestly had forgotten much of the important history of Austria before I went. And I still find Austrian history pretty overwhelming. I mean, from the Romans to Napoleon to the Allied bombing of Vienna in 1944? The crazy stories about the grandeur of the Habsburgs? Incredible. Complex. Fascinating.Belvedere was clearly expansive and beautiful, particularly the sphinx statues, with the lion bodies and human heads. I would love to go back and visit the gardens in the summer. Obviously, it was pretty bleak and brown in the winter, particularly when it was entirely overcast. The Belvedere was built as the summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy, and the construction began in 1714. Over the years, art galleries, such as the Baroque Museum, have been added.Oh, and the most amazing ice rink ever!! I would absolutely love to go back and try it out. It’s like a raceway…with curves and some gentle slopes, that winds in front of Neues Rathaus in the beautiful Rathausplatz Park. The kids, and the adults, looked like they were having such a place on the course.
Also, if you are more familiar with Austrian history than I, I took from the Sisi Museum that there is some weird obsession with Empress Elizabeth? The Sisi Museum was quite interesting, but in places there was a very, very strange vibe…like it’s made for stalkers almost, for lack of a better way to phrase it. It’s so weird to me that essentially there is a museum about someone’s personal life. But I suppose when you are an Empress, nothing is that personal anymore…
I would also love to go back for more beer and linzertorte. Together. Probably for dinner (and lunch).