Everywhere you look in this city you find horses. We started our day at the Spanish Riding School for the morning exercises to music, followed up this afternoon by a tour of the facility.
This morning can best be described as ‘meh’, but this afternoon was relatively interesting. However, there’s one thing I just don’t get, and that’s their prohibition of photos during the exercise and again this afternoon when in the stables. I might be able to understand it if this morning was a rehearsal of the show and they were actually doing...stuff. But it was nothing more than 2 hours of riders exercising their horses, to canned classical music. Everyone doing their own thing...for 30 minutes at a time...then switching out the horse...to another white one...and doing something else...or something the same...hard to tell. I’m sure one fellow walked his horse diagonally through the ring 19 times in a half hour. Just kept going diagonally then back, and forth, and back. I only closed my eyes for a second...I swear...
So the question begs to be asked...what’s so frickin’ secret about that? I mean really! They could easily allowed non-flash photography. In spite of the numerous announcement in several different languages, it was still a full time job for the staff to run around telling people to stop taking pictures. Surprised? I’m betting not. Cause we all know how well people listen!
We lasted through the first 2 exercise sessions and when the 3rd started no differently from the previous 2, we bailed. We had to return by 1:55 pm for our afternoon tour of the facilities. Bound to be a step up, I hoped!
We wandered the streets of downtown Vienna and saw...more horses. Horse and buggies everywhere. You can’t swing a cat in this city without hitting a horse! I can’t say that with any certainty...cause there’s a distinct lacking of cats around here. Dogs...they’re everywhere, but cats, noticeably absent.
We strolled, we shopped, we even grabbed a snack, and then we returned to the appointed location for our tour. They called for everyone awaiting the English tour to come to the front. We were a small group of 8 when the tour started, but then 4 Americans showed up about 15 minutes late. So when the guide asked if there were any questions, you just know they asked a few that had been already covered at the beginning of the tour. So now we’re a group of 12. Not a real large number for such a tour. But yet, when we left the performance ring for the courtyard, only 4 of us made it all the way. The guide had to go looking for the rest and found 6 stragglers, but 2 Asian women were completely missing. How they got lost walking up a set of stairs and down a hall is beyond me...but they did. They showed up 10 minutes later in the courtyard. Not sure how they found us at all!
We were permitted to take photos in the ring and the courtyard, but once across the road in the stable area, ‘nicht’, ‘verboten’, not allowed. We were allowed to snap a shot or 2 in the tack room. So I did. Not cause of any lifelong interest in tack, but because I wanted to have at least a couple of photos to remember my day. When we left the facility we headed back out to the downtown core and checked our watches. It was 1:55. How the heck did we manage that? We were sure it was 1:30 when we headed to the venue for our 2pm tour. Apparently we went an hour earlier than we were scheduled. But seeing that they didn’t check the time on our tickets when we joined the tour, and it wasn’t overly full anyway, I’m sure it was no harm, no foul.
The one highlight of our day was mastering the Vienna subway system. It is quite slick and especially reasonable for seniors. A bit less so for us youngen’s, but still reasonable. The big bonus is we sussed out our routing for the train station tomorrow. It’s only 7 stops on the tube line and much cheaper than the taxi I figured we’d have to get.
We finished off our short stay in Vienna with a visit at the Wien Casino. The deal there is a bit like some other European casinos we’ve experienced. You have to pay a fee to get in, but that amount is given back to you in the form of betting credits. So for 30 euros, I played for about 1.5 hours. No big wins to speak of, but an entertaining stay just the same.
Tomorrow we’re off to a more rural area of Austria where we expect English to be less prevalent. and let Let the hiking holiday begin!!