It’s not Vienna’s fault, really. It’s just not fair to ask a city to be the next stop after a trip to the Dolomites. There was probably nothing Vienna could have done that wouldn’t seem like a little bit of a let down after breathing that mountain air.
Not that it was all bad. A little graffiti just sort of keeps it real. Actually, there is a lot of graffiti.
Grafitti aside, Vienna has a much different feel from Venice. Venice, at this point, is a tourist hub where people get around by boat and walking. Vienna is a modern, working city where folks get around by car, bus, train, bike, motorcycle, scooter, e-scooter, horse drawn carriage, baby carriage, Segway, Big Bus, running, or, in my case, walking.
Vienna has a different smell than Venice too. That’s a good thing.
When I arrived, I realized that pretty much everything I know about Austria I learned from 1. The Sound of Music; 2. Miracle of the White Stallions; or 3. Old cassette tape on one of the composers…I.e. the Life of Mozart. (I guess you could also throw in on a much lesser scale, 4. Woman in Gold.)
At any rate, as I started passing one ornate building and one impressive statue after another after another, I realized I didn’t know what or who any of them were and consequently, all I could think about was how heavy my back pack was and how much I regret my codependency on unreliable Siri.
If you haven’t seen Miracle of the White Stallions or heard of the Spanish Riding School or the famous Lipizzaner horses, I’m not really surprised. But apparently, some people have because I figured the riding hall had about 500 seats. Tickets weren’t cheap. And at 11:00 am, every seat was filled and folks were standing along the walls.
It’s hard to describe the performance and they would not let us take pictures because it “irritates the horses” so I can only recommend you look them up or view the recent Netflix special on these beautiful Stallions. They have a way of almost dancing and a long tradition of performing that has not changed in forever.
I did notice, however, that neither the show nor the Netflix special in any way references the story told in “Miracle if the White Stallions” in which the US army saved the breed toward the end of WWII. I think we deserve a little credit in the form of discounted tickets or something. Just sayin’.
After the show, I decided to try to go to the hotel to try to drop off my backpack which, after carrying it around since 4:00 am, seemed to weigh far more than 1,000 lbs. I had intentionally booked a hotel near a train station (although a bit out of town for cost reasons), but I had never found out what train station. So it made for a very, very long walk. I felt like Christian in Pilgrims Progress carrying a heavy burden. It didn’t help that I had made a poor choice of shoes that day.
I neglected to mention that while I was looking for the Spanish Riding School that morning, I had been talked into buying a concert ticket for later that evening by a street salesman who gave me a special discount. 😉
By the time I made it to the hotel and shed my burden, I had learned that the hotel was right next to a palace (Schönbrunn Castle) which also was hosting a concert that night that sounded very similar. Schönbrunn was cool, quiet, inviting, and it was RIGHT THERE. But no, I had paid 30 Euros for a ticket to a concert all the way back in the heart of Vienna. That meant I was in for more trains and a lot more walking to end a day that had started at 3:00 am. Ugh.
So after a few hours of catching up on emails and work and fighting to charge my phone and computer with a temperamental outlet in my room, I headed back to the train station…thankfully, now I knew the closest one to the hotel (not the one I came on) and the closest one to the concert hall, so I figured all would go smoothly, but I left two hours early just in case.
What I didn’t know then was that the clever salesman had been peddling tickets that looked *almost* exactly like the concert going on at the Opera House that night.
I tried going to the address on the ticket, but Siri pulled one of her “you have arrived” stunts when clearly, I had not arrived.
Then I started asking locals who all directed me to the Opera House but after arriving there, I realized that although the ticket looked like the same concert going on at the Opera House, it was not.
After nearly two hours of walking, I was extremely close to giving up when I happened to light on another salesman on the street selling tickets for the same concert I’d been duped into. “It’s just beyond the Opera House” he told me, generally pointing. Then he gave me a map. Which was also no help.
But I found it. Somehow. And my some miracle, I was even on time.
And although I was in the cheap seats and couldn’t see much of anything, the musicians were good and the music was beautiful—Mozart, Grieg, Vivaldi, etc.
So there you have it…a nod to Miracle if the White Stallions and the Life of Mozart. Sunday, I plan to go to Salzburg and find out if the hills are still alive with the Sound of Music. Hopefully, my feet will have recovered by then. In honor of the Woman in Gold, I will not go to any Museums.
Not at all a bad way to spend the day after the Dolomites.
In fact, I’m hesitant to admit it…but even though I’d pick a day at the Dolomites over a day in the city every time (and I’m generally not one for concerts that begin at 8:30 pm), I do love the European way of walking every where. I love to see couples dressed up and catching trains for an evening out. I love the rows of little, privately owned shops and the simplicity of only buying what you can carry home.
Total steps today: 25,000 Cumulative steps: 97,000 (~39 miles)