After Florian tried to expand my waistline beyond its limit with plate after plate for breakfast, we went to get in line for the morning exercise of the world renowned Spanish Riding School. Inside the building is a large “ballroom” covered in dirt and sand where purebred white stallions perform extravagant shows or, for the budget conscious, a practice of sorts. For the exercise, they trotted around and mixed in some tricks that horses should not be able to do. The most frequent trick involved the horse walking sideways with one leg overlapping the other or, as I like to think, the horse is doing the karaoke. More dazzling tricks included the horses standing on their hind legs while holding the position and trying flutter in their air like a ballerina with all four hooves tucked in together. I was impressed and glad to see a long time Viennese tradition. The three of us met Mikaela, Florian’s niece, for a short while, so I guess that was kind of neat to see more of the distant family. For a more gloomy side trip, we walked into the Kaisergruft, which is the imperial crypt for Austrian royalty. Not only did the rich and famous need to be wined and dined in life but they had to be given the red carpet treatment in death with tombs covered by carvings of skulls, fancy swords, and other things to show off their wealth. Next stop to my surprise turned out to be Naschmarkt, a food market, that stretched on on with all the meats, spices, produce, and bread one could ever want. I bought a sandwich loaded with veggies and, yes, tofu. Mmmh mmh was it good! Of course the next thing we get happened to be a sandwich filled with some mystery meat to bring my veggiefest to an end. I hate to say it but this questionable slab of meat was downright scrumptioulescent (A new word needed to be made to define this tasty experience). Essentially, my tastebuds gave my arteries the middle finger. We continued to sample a little bit of this and that and I discovered some foods I have never seen before; some of which will definitely need to make it into my next recipe. After being thoroughly satisfied, we met my dad’s cousin Maria before going to the gardens of Schonnbrunn palace. Even though I may have only met her once before, it is still nice to see some of the “long lost” family. My dad and I went into the palace and found the usual flash and flair from the time period. After all the palaces I have seen, they all seem to blend together at this point. The more worthwhile visit was the gardens, which provided beautiful scenery for the long walk up to the top. On top of this grassy knoll, we had a view of the whole city of Vienna. Though some people may enjoy hearing about royalty and all that fancy stuff, views like this are what will keep me traveling and looking at the world with a certain curiosity. After getting train tickets to go to Bratislava, Slovakia on Friday, I enjoyed some much needed sitting time at Hostel Florian before getting supper with Mikaela and her husband.
Day 23: Prancing Ponies and Mystery Meat