Saturday, 14 September 2013

Lipizzaners and Sachertortes

We're enjoying Vienna very much.  There is a lot to do here.  You need time and you need money.  Today, we booked tickets for tomorrow night to attend a concert of Mozart and other works.  Cheapest seats cost 29 €, the most expensive 49 €.  We settled for the 39 € tickets.  Today, for 23 € each (standing area price; sitting cost more), we attended a show of the Spanische Hofreitschule, or the Spanish Riding School at the Vienna Hofburg Imperial Palace between Josefsplatz and Michaelerplatz.

The Spanish Riding School was established about 400 years ago.  It contains horses exclusively from the breed 'Lipizzaner'.  The Lipizzaners have a genetic defect; when they are born, they are of a dark colour, but when they reach the age of four or five, their coat turns white.  Not all Lipizzaners do turn white, however, and the non-white ones are highly prized.  For nearly 90 minutes, Jean and I and the crowd watched the Lipizzaners and their riders dance around the indoor arena.  Taking photographs was forbidden, and staff paced up and down telling people not to take photographs or video, which everyone disobeyed.

During the performance, an audience member stepped into the corridor and collapsed.  I actually witnessed it, but was too far away.  Half a dozen bystanders rushed to his aid.  For some moments, we were more interested in what was happening with the patient than the performers.

After the performance, we headed to the palace of Belvedere, but didn't feel the need to enter.  We've seen plenty of palaces.  Instead, we strolled from the 'upper' Belvedere to the 'lower' one.  Yesterday, at Schloss Schönbrunn, we were told that that palace was the 'lower'.  The intention had been to build an 'upper' Schönbrunn but money was needed to fight, I think, the War of Spanish Succession.  In strolling between the upper and lower Belvederes, I noticed the grounds slightly resembled those at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris, but were nowhere near as good.

Afterwards, back 'in town', we spotted the Hotel Sacher on Albertina Platz, opposite the Albertina Museum.  The hotel is the creator of the renowned Sachertorte, a chocolate cake with either apricot or marmalade jam in the middle.  We ordered one of those for Jean while I ordered my lifelong favourite, the Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (Blackforest Cherry Cake).

Lipizzaners and their riders perform for the crowd.
The Lipizzaners and their riders belong to the Spanische Hofreitenschule.
The riders reach to remove their hats.....
.....and salute the audience.
The upper palace at Belvedere (Oberes Belvedere)
The lower palace at Belvedere (Unteres Belvedere)
Horse-drawn carriages are a common sight in Vienna, carrying titillated tourists.
Hotel Sacher on Albertina Platz, the inventor of the Sachertorte, and which featured in the movie, The Third Man, with Orson Welles.

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