Thursday, 14 September 2017

Exploring Vienna - trams and horses

Our three-city epic citybreak is so busy that my blogging about it is way behind schedule! I apologise for that! You can read my Prague posts here which was the first of the trio and from where we got a train to Vienna. Our Viennese Airbnb studio apartment was excellent so I am happy to recommend it. If you need accommodation for one or two people in Vienna, book into Christof's place! It had everything we needed, was conveniently located and was pretty peaceful too. If it had been available in 1899, I am sure Mark Twain would have loved it! (I spotted this plaque on the building where he did stay in Vienna, but forgot to note down the address and now can't remember! The sojourn might have formed part of his A Tramp Abroad research (my book review here)

We started with a circuit on the Ring Tram which was a great way to learn about the historic buildings lining the Ringstrasse. The half-hour tram ride is €9 and this includes an audioguide in various languages for which headphones are provided. We got a good view of everything from the distinctive yellow tram and taking the journey helped with getting our bearings when later exploring on foot. The only downside was the Mozart-interspersed narration meant I kept humming the Marriage Of Figaro overture for the rest of the day!

We were sadly underwhelmed with the Museums Quarter although the cafe there has an amazing tiled ceiling, but did find other artwork around the city including this Rachel Whiteread sculpture outside the Jewish Museum. Having first encountered her work only three months ago at Houghton Hall I easily recognised it again in and this Viennese Library is a particularly powerful piece as every book on its shelves represents a Jewish lifestory that was cut short by the Holocaust. 65,000 Viennese Jews were murdered by the Nazis.

More sculpture was on show at the Theseus Temple in the Volkspark. This replica of an Athenian temple was originally constructed in the 1820s to house a statue of Theseus slaying the Minotaur. That work was moved to the city art museum and now the space is used to display a single large sculpture each year. For 2017 the work is Bacchante by American artist Kathleen Ryan. The polished concrete grapes did fit with the ancient Greek theme of the setting but it did look a bit lost under the high ceiling!

My high spot of visiting Vienna was seeing the magnificent Lipizzaner stallions of the Spanish Riding School. I had a book about this School in my younger pony-mad days so it was the culmination of a childhood dream to actually get there! We didn't see the full show, but it is possible to buy tickets for the Morning Training which is two hours of groups of horses being put through their paces and practising some of the high dressage for which they are famous. Photography is absolutely 'verboten' and my camera probably wouldn't have been up to the task anyway so I have found a YouTube showing the horses and their beautiful riding school. All the riders in the video are male, but women have joined their ranks since 2008 and several of the riders we saw training were female. All the horses are still male though!


  1. It looks like a spectacular time your having. I once went to see the Lippizaner's. They very magnifique!