jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 83 [22 Apr 09] – Vienna

Posted in Vienna by jn82 on April 23, 2009

For the first time in many days, we actually got up early this morning to do some sighseeing. This was in part motivated by the fact that the morning exercise at the Spanish Riding School was held from 10am – 12pm, and tickets were only available on a first come first served basis. The Spanish Riding School has its roots dating back more than 400 years, when Spanish horses were brought to Austria for breeding. The famous graceful Lipizzaner horses are a cross of Berber and Arabian stock with Spanish and Italian horses. They are born with dark coats that turn white only between the ages of 4 and 10. In addition to being beautiful, they are also the world’s most classically styled equine performers. During the regular performances, the horses perform their “airs above the ground” dressage to the music of Johann Strauss or a Chopin polonaise in the baroque, chandeliered 18th century hall. Unfortunately these shows are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, when I would have long left Vienna by, so I took the only available and much cheaper option to see the horses. The exercise session was one of the most painfully boring experiences of the trip (except for most of the museums), as after 20 minutes or so the novelty of seeing these horses just walk around the hall and not perform any stunts wears off totally. They are beautiful creatures, but there is really not much point to sit through the whole morning exercise session like we did because we did not know that they would just be walking around. It would have been nice if we were allowed to take some pictures during the exercise, but like everything else in Vienna, photography is not allowed.

Baroque hall where the horses perform.

After a pretty boring two hours, we headed to the Hofburg Schatzkammer (Treasury), where on display are stunning collections of secular and ecclesiastical treasures of the Habsburgs. Among the collectons would be the pricess imperial regalia and relics of the Holy Roman Empire that include crowns inlaid with diamonds, rubies, peals, sapphires and other gems, as well as swords, imperial crosses, jewelety, alters, christening robes, coronation robes and richly embroided garments. All the signs were in German, so I am unsure of exactly what the name of each item is. Photography is allowed here, but the lighting is so dim that it is practically impossible to get any good photographs.

Various crowns.

Golden plate and jug.

Snake eating a baby?

The Treasury was about a seven out of a 10 on the boring scale once you had seen all the crowns. After this, we had a quick lunch and then headed over to Kunsthisorisches Museum (Museum of Fine Arts). We just walked around and saw the collection of coins and medals as well as the picture gallery, which contains paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Durer, Titian, Giorgione, Tintoretto, Caravaggio and Velazquez. The coins registered a 10 out of 10 on the boring scale, but the picture gallery was nice to walk around and soak in the art.

Roof and Interior of the Kunsthisorisches Museum.

After all this, we were pretty tired and headed back to the hostel for a rest before heading out again for dinner. Dinner was just around the corner from the hostel, where I had a pork schnitzel with ham, a fried egg and cheese. For 9.1 €, it was pretty cheap considering it was Vienna and in a restaurant.

Wiener schnitzel with ham, egg and cheese.

The highlight of the day probably had to be the post-dinner activities, where we headed to Kursalon (beside Stadt park) for an evening of Strauss and Mozart, performed by the Salonorchester Alt Wien, one of the best known interpreters of Viennese classical music, with some ballet, folk dancing, waltz and opera in-between. Although the price of the ticket was 31 € for the cheapest pricing section (as opposed to 56 € for the most expensive) with concession, I still had a clear view of the stage and could see the musicians and dancers clearly. A sparkling selection of the loveliest melodies of Waltz King Johann Strauss and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, principal proponent of the Viennese classical style, were performed by the virtuoso musicians, with opera singers and ballet soloists, swinging waltzes, polkas, arias and duets making it an evening full of Viennese charm. It was a very good and enjoyable experience.

Outside and inside the Kursalon.

The Salonorchester Alt Wien and opera singers after performing a duet.

A long day which started out pretty boring ended with a high note. Off to Prague tomorrow morning.

Today’s pictures here.


One Response

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  1. Joanne said, on April 24, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Hehe took me a while to realise that it were the horses that were exercising, and not you… 😉

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