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Adventures of a short vet

Vienna - the city not the sausage

AUSTRIA | Sunday, 15 May 2011 | Views [622]

Looking to the back of the theatre

Looking to the back of the theatre

Yet another rainy day was perfect for sitting on a train to Vienna. After dropping off my gear I headed back into back into the city on the subway to visit the Dom before stopping at the Haus der Musik where I spent a couple of hours wandering through the crazy interactive music rooms and learning about the history of some of the masters – Mozart, Haydn, Schubert & Liszt amongst a few. I had to wander around the Hoffberg Palace for a while before I managed to find the Ethnology Museum, which I visited specifically to see the feathered headdress of the Aztec Montezuma, only to find out it wasn’t on display! But the rest of the museum was pretty interesting, with a new display on the Chinese ‘Mayo’ movement and Eastern religions.

The following day was still cloudy so I caught a train out to Modling to visit the “Seegrotte” Hinterbruhl – Europe’s largest underground lake. It was formed when a water tributary was hit by the miners, flooding the mines which were then abandoned until WWII, when the Nazis decided to use it as a secure base to build planes for the Luffwaffe. I joined a German/Spanish tour as I couldn’t be bothered waiting an hour for the English tour to start, and spent most of the tour guessing what the guide was saying in German. It was pretty amazing to walk through the shafts and tunnels thinking about what it must have been like during the war with all the activity underground. The tour ended with a little boat ride through the flooded section and it was beautifully lit up, with a little fountain appearing out of nowhere near the end of the ride. I also learned that the original “Three Muskateers” was filmed here!

That evening I joined Nadia, a traveler from Argentina, in attending the Vienna Opera staging of “La Italiana”. Standing tickets bought on the day cost about E6, as opposed to prebooked seats which will set you back over a E100. We arrived at 5:30pm for a 7:30pm showing and stood in line for about an hour in order to get extremely cheap tickets, so that we could tie our scarves on the railing in a good position in the standing stalls like true locals before heading back to the bar for a drink before the show. I’m not a big fan of opera, but found I really enjoyed the show despite having to stand for three hours. They even have little screens in front of each seat (or stall) that translate the Italian verse to English so that you can follow the story. The plot was terrible but the scenery and set was amazing, Avatar eat your heart out! Seeing the Opera House lit up at night was also beautiful and the ice-cream shop was still open on the way home. Gelatto time!

The following day I went to see the Lipizzaner horses training as I wouldn’t be able to catch a show that week. Unfortunately I got there a little late and there was a massive line with what seemed like no organization (for once I missed the UK where everyone knows how to queue) so I gave up, thinking I wouldn’t be able to see them. I walked around the back though and found another entrance with NO-ONE there. I thought I was in the wrong place, but the guy at the desk sold me a ticket and I wandered up the stairs into the gallery where I spent almost 2 hours watching the young Lipizzaner horses training. The riders start at 15 years old (all boys of course) and are eventually placed in charge of 5-6 horses for 15-20 years so it’s a lifelong commitment. The horses only start training at 4 years old as they are quite slow to mature, but are amongst the calmest horses, which is why they can be kept and worked together as stallions. Only a very few of the very best do what is called the “above ground” work of jumps and rears. They are born black and gradually turn grey and then white as they mature.

I finally had enough of watching the training, and headed to the fairground to see (but decided not to experience) the world’s highest swing ride. They also have real ponies in the pony carousel, all attached to little carts in an enclosed roundabout and looking quite depressed. I left when I saw one of them eating the sawdust, not wanting to be around when it started to colic!

After picking up my bus ticket to Bratislava for the following day I walked over to the massive Schonbrunn Palace, where I wandered around some of the 300acre grounds, taking in the view of the city from the hill, and visiting the zoo for a short time where I saw my first white peacock, as well as a baby elephant and baby panda. Awwww.

Tags: hoffberg palace, lipizzaner horse, modling, opera, palaces, seegrotte, undergound lake, vienna

 

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