We only had the two full days to explore Vienna, and there was a lot to see! We slept late on Thursday morning, though, because we were both so worn out from the crazy schedules of the week. Once we got up, and had some breakfast, we made our way back to the Spanish Riding School.
My mom loves horses and kept telling us we should check this out. Somehow, we timed it just right. They were preparing for a big ball that was taking place the next day, so they only had one tour time available and it was about to start! We were able to see the hall where they normally perform (that was being transformed for the ball), the stables, and the tack room. In the tack room, the white saddles up high are the ones they use in performances. They are all custom made to fit the horses so they do not have to use pads. The different blankets, the green and the red and the different gold stripes on them, all signify things about the riders and the horses like what levels they are. We did learn that the first female rider to enter the school is an assistant this year and should be the first female rider to perform in shows in the next couple of years. It is a 10-12 year commitment in the school just to become a rider! We also saw some of Lipizzaner stallions! A lot of them were on vacation in the Alps to avoid the heat, but we saw some of the younger ones. There was a gorgeous dark horse in the stables and they explained that the stallions that stay dark, as opposed to turning white, are good luck! They only happen in about 1 in 100 of the births so they get a free ticket to the School. It was so neat to take in all of the history and tradition. I only wish we could have stayed for the ball! Haha! It is actually really expensive to get in, and the cheapest tickets just get you a spot to stand- no food, drinks, or dancing!
We had lunch at a really yummy sushi spot that afternoon. I didn’t even take any pictures, probably because we were starving! Chad says it was the best California roll he ever ate. I agree, it was all pretty tasty. After lunch we met back at the Opera House for a walking tour of the downtown Vienna area. We were really kind of disappointed we had not done this tour sooner, as there was a lot to see on foot. Our guide was having to speak two different languages, and it was hard to hear her, so we decided to break off and explore on our own.
We viewed the St. Stephen’s cathedral from the outside, and we went inside of St. Peter’s. It was so incredibly ornate! The statue was kind of in-between the two churches and represents the Holy trinity with its 3 levels. On the way back to the hotel we stopped for a traditional Viennese pastry, the sachertorte. It is basically a chocolate cake with a layer of apricot jam. Chad wasn’t overly impressed. I thought it was pretty good, but I agreed that I did not see what all of the fuss was about! It was pretty unique. We were told that when Austrian people travel to the states, they bring one of these cakes from the original Cafe Sacher as a gift. I guess the cakes grow on you 😉
The farewell dinner that night was another favorite! We went to one of Beethoven’s old summer homes that is now a winery. The story was that this was the house where Beethoven realized he was deaf. There is a church right next door, and one morning he could see the bells ringing but could not hear them. The wine taverns in Vienna are called “Heurigers”. Chad and I actually almost ate dinner there the night before just on our own, but fortunately I looked at our itinerary again and realized we should wait! It was such a fun atmosphere. The red wine was so great that we brought home 2 bottles! They had a buffet of traditional Viennese dishes, including the Wiener Schnitzel. It was all pretty tasty, especially the apple strudel and bread pudding for desert. They had polka music and dancers as well as the Salzburg Children’s Choir performing for us. It was really a fantastic farewell to Vienna.
I am so grateful that Chad earned this opportunity, and that we took it! It was hard to leave Ryder, but I hope he always takes opportunities like this when they are given to him as well. It is so fascinating and important to visit and learn about other cultures.
The next morning we made our long journey home and we were finally reunited with him! Ryder was all smiles all weekend, and I have soaked up every minute of him this week. I think he is even more adorable now, if that is possible. You know what they say, though, absence makes the heart grow fonder!