One of the most fun things to experience whilst in Vienna, the capital of Austria, is a visit to the Spanish Riding School. The famous white stallions, called Lipizzaners, perform elegant routines and jumps in an amazing baroque style hall, the Winter Riding School. You can also sit or stand on one of the balconies and watch morning exercise and practices for the horses.
Lipizzaners are Europe’s oldest breed of horse, and they are now endangered. In fact, there are only actually around 5,000 of them left worldwide. The horses for the Spanish Riding School are bred in a small village outside Vienna, and have been since 1920. The famous horses also take an annual summer holiday to Heldenberg in southern Austria. They go for long country walks, do jumping in the hall and take a well earned break.
This is how the Riding School describes itself on their website, which you can visit at http://www.srs.at/en/
“The Spanish Riding School in Vienna is the only institution in the world which has practiced for over 440 years and continues to cultivate classical equitation in the Renaissance tradition of the haute école.
The objective of classical equitation is to study the way the horse naturally moves and to cultivate the highest levels of haute école elegance the horse is capable of through systematic training. The result creates an unparalleled harmony between rider and horse, as only Vienna’s Spanish Riding School achieves.”
You can check them out on YouTube http://m.youtube.com/index?&desktop_uri=%2F#/watch?v=Pn6Jmqs9IHQ
The city of Vienna, Austria is famous for many things. It’s wonderful old buildings and ancient churches, the Vienna Boys Choir and Sachertorte. Sachertorte is a Viennese delicacy which is basically a moist chocolate cake with apricot jam in the middle and a coating of dark chocolate. It was invented by Franz Sacher, a kitchen apprentice of Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832. When he settled in Vienna, his dessert became famous and was carried on by his son after he died. Today you can eat Sachertorte anywhere in Vienna, but one of the best is probably found in Aida, a Viennese bakery chain with over twenty branches around the city…
“Aida has over 20 branches in Vienna and they are difficult to miss: they are very pink. The best known is on St Stephen’s Square at the junction of Singerstrasse. It has a white marble facade trimmed in pink, the awnings are pink, the staff wear pink; when it is warm enough to set up outside, the sun-shades are pink and you get to sit on pink chairs. If you can take so much pink, taste the coffee which is Aida’s own brand made from beans imported from South America and mixed and roasted to Aida’s secret specification.”
In Austria and Germany, the traditional costume known as Tracht always used to be the preserve of the ultra-conservative. But these traditional clothes – lederhosen for men and dirndl dresses for women – have recently become rather fashionable.
So says the BBC.co.uk article http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-19976271. Apparently, not only is the typical Austrian outfit seen on people in the countryside, it’s also everywhere in the big cities like Vienna (although in a less obvious form: the traditional green-collared jackets are an example). And it’s not only the locals who are falling back in love with the lederhosen and dirndls – when the fashion designer Vivienne Westwood visited Austria about 10 years ago, she said:
‘I do not understand you Austrians. If every woman wore a dirndl, there would not be any more ugliness’
The people of Austria seem to have taken note: recently, the shops that sell the ‘Tracht’ have been reporting big profits, and you can buy the outfits all over – not just in specialist shops. Maybe Londoners will catch on and start walking round dressed as Beefeaters.