Monday, May 28, 2012

Vienna Within The Ring

05/27, Sunday
Lukas and Karin and Jakob are leaving for an overnight stay at their cottage about two hours drive away. It's a relaxed morning in the kitchen around the wicker counter/table for from a DeLonghi espresso, OJ, thin-sliced cheese and ham, very good grain bread, homemade peach jam, Nutella, and avocado...spread on bread, really good!

Lukas shows us their backyard, including a pet turtle. Their whole building had belonged to his grandfather and now several relatives live there. Great setting and location.

Mom and Karin have scheduled our remaining 10 days in Austria back to Milan, Italy. So, our first task is to get tickets at the West Bahnhof train station. (There are four stations in Vienna.) We are helped by a young man there who makes all of arrangements...we're all set to go.

It's about mile-walk to reach the Hofburg Palace where we are having a tour of the Lippinzaner horse stables. Mariahilfer, a shopping street, leads us past lots of global high-end stores as well as McDonalds and Starbucks. We arrive a few minutes before 2:00.

The Stable Tour is very interesting. Our guide (Alexia Havlacek, no relation to John of the Celtics) has lots of information and details and history about the Lippinzaner horses. Lippinz is an area in Spain where the horses originated. They were the first modern horses as opposed to large draft animals...much smaller and sleeker.

Emperor Leopold I, a Spaniard, imported these horses from Spain until he realized it would be easier to breed them in Austria. Most Lippinzaner are white, but a regressive gene sometimes produces a dark brown. These are considered good luck charms and are revered by the stables.

We saw the tack room where saddles and bridles are stored and maintained. The saddles are made of the same leather as the breeches worn by the riders. This helps them stay on the horse because the riders do not use stirrups. The stable is right on a busy center, but the horses get two months off each year to prance in the country. Their stalls are cleaned hourly, so they can stay so white.

There are strict criteria for a horse to be chosen as a performer, and, likewise, there are criteria for the riders. Training for both horse and rider is intensive...a horse can perform for 20 years; a rider for 35 years or more. The horse and rider are always paired together. Women are now allowed to become riders, and they are usually better suited to the horses. The hall where they perform seats 1000 people and beautiful, including large ornate chandeliers.

About 4:30 we stop for early dinner (no lunch today) at Stepl, the same restaurant we ate dinner with L&K&J on Friday. Too much food for both of us to finish. We rested at the apartment for awhile, and then trammed to the outdoor Opera screen, arriving at 9:00, just as It ended. We had our choice of seats anyway! Oh well, we'll try tomorrow night.

Now it's almost 11:00, our bedtime after a little reading. Just as we turned out the lights, we heard the front door buzzer. A lady over the intercom asks if we have lost a cat. Sounds crazy, doesn't it?

Well, we haven't mentioned that the day we arrived, Friday, Karin told us their cat, Jamie, had not returned last night. She was very worried and upset about him, understandably. She and Lukas had been out periodically the last few days looking for him and putting up posters. Now, a woman around the corner has found him!

I ran down stairs to meet her (in my pjs), but Jamie is not with her, so I follow her to verify the cat is okay and bring him home. But, because I am not the owner, she refuses to let me take him. Mom, is upset because she thinks I have disappeared (maybe the "cat nabbers" have kidnapped me!) when I return. We called Karin to let her know that Jamie is okay, and she calls back quickly, very excited, of course.

So, the missing cat saga is happily concluded. Karin will bring him home tomorrow when they return from their cottage.

Mom and I are wide awake after this,so we play a game of Scrabble before settling down again for sleep.

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