Our last morning in Vienna, we had tickets to see the Lipizzan stallions at the Spanish Riding School. The short version of the story is that the Hapsburg emperor brought them in from Spain and they’ve been trained at the riding school ever since. They are born dark colored and slowly grow whiter as they mature. What’s really fun about watching their morning training is that you get to enjoy their practice – and their antics – as they work under crystal chandeliers with classical music playing. It’s an unusual sight but alas, you’re not supposed to take pictures. We did not know this and got scolded, but the guards didn’t take the photos so you get to enjoy them.
I’ve never seen these guys in a real performance, but the morning practice was packed with people on two levels. These are the mature horses – nearly all white – but the younger ones came out after. Here’s a photo from the second floor and you can see the lighting:
Here’s the square where the riding school is located:
And the corners of the building are so heavily ornamented!
I very much wanted to try apple strudel before we left Vienna as I knew I may not have time when we got back, so we went to Landtman’s which our bike guide the first day said was the best. We had coffees and apple strudel. It did not disappoint. That’s a vanilla sauce it’s swimming in.
Next, we’re on the train toward Budapest but a three hour train ride is a pain so we decided ahead of time we’d stop in Bratislava, Slovakia – the roughly halfway point between Vienna and Budapest. We read online that it’s a fun quaint place and we wanted to explore it. So, some training knitting happened:
This hat is coming along nicely! and bam, we’re in another country. Sadly, no passport stamp however. Welcome to Bratislava.
It was a truly quaint little city. All cobblestones and winding streets and squares.
They had turned an underground bomb shelter into a tea room.
Sadly, no takeaway tea and we’re on a tight time schedule so I didn’t get any tea. Still, it was comfy and pretty down these stairs.
Next more quaint streets.
And these statues … they were created and placed about the town to draw tourists. No kidding. The town felt it was losing out on the tourist action and so they designed these quirky metal statues.
A historic square …
And it’s time for dinner … this is paprika chicken with gnocchi:
Delicious! After that, we headed to a Cuban bar across from our apartment.
They had soft snuggly blankets … which was perfect because it was damp and chilly but inside was filled with cigarette smoke!
Next we wandered around and found a place for dessert.
Cake is so good here!
And to burn that off we kept wandering around the town at night. All lit up, but this is before the party-people came out. It got noisy later but we were tucked into our little apartment by then.
Next morning, we’re up and at the train station for the next leg of our trip – onward to Budapest!
I had no breakfast so I spoke with the lovely sausage vendor and we pointed and google translated our way through the purchase of a sausage with mustard. So yummy!
This travel by train is different and when we loaded up, there was some sort of crowd blocking getting to seats, so we veered into the dining car instead and Steve ordered coffee and goulash. We weren’t sure what the protocol was but suspected they’d kick us out of the dining car if they needed seats. So, we ended up staying there the whole trip.
Got some more knitting done. The cables are looking good!
Slovakia countryside is filled with fields of sunflowers – all late season so they’re bent over and brown. Do they harvest these as sunflower seeds? They were clearly planted in rows. Who knows?
Next stop … Budapest!