Monthly Archives: June 2012

If I were a horse I’d be a Lipizzaner

Interested in living in a historic European city during the winter then retreating to the outdoor green pastures of the countryside every summer?  Sounds like a perfect balance of exciting city life and tranquil sounds of nature to me and given the choice I’d say YES please!  However, this offer is valid only for the Spanish Riding School Lipizzaner horses.

If you are a “horsey person” like me you will appreciate the importance and beauty of this breed of horse however for those who aren’t familiar with the Lipizzaner let me try to explain in a nutshell:

  • Lipizzaner is one of Europe’s oldest breeds – it dates back to the 16th century.  That’s going back 400+ years folks!
  • The breed name was named after one of the earliest stud farms, Lipica, which is now located in modern Slovenia.
  • During “Habsburg rule”  lightweight horses that could serve as military horses as well as look pretty were desired and the Spanish Andalusian horse was brought in from Spain to cross-breed with many other breads = the Lipizzaner was born.
  • The Habsburg family preferred grey coloured horses so breeding practices were adjusted according to the horses’ colourings.
  • Several events have threatened the extinction of this breed such as wars, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and viral disease.
  • All Lipizzaner are born dark and most will gradually turns grey between the ages of 6 -10 years.
  • Only Stallions are shown at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.
  • It is tradition to always have one Bay (dark brown) coloured Stallion at the Riding School (some say for good luck).
  • Stallions arrive at the Spanish Riding School at age 4 for training, which could take 6 years to complete.
  • Each horse is trained to do various jumps and gaits in the performances.
  • Every horse gets to take a break from performing and spend July & August at the summer quarters and training centre in Heldenberg, Lower Austria.  After a well deserved rest they come back to Vienna to resume the fall/winter schedule.
  • Piber Stud, located in Styria, Austria is now the primary breeding ground for the Lipizzaner.
  • A Stallion will never breed with the same Mare more than once.
  • Once a Stallion has fulfilled his show career he enjoys his retirement and the rest of his life back at Piber Stud.

Living in Vienna has its perks and being this close in proximity to these beautiful creatures is one of my greats joys of living in Europe.  I never grow tired of visiting the stables in the heart of the city.  I even time my visits so that I can see them leave the stables to head for their morning exercises across the street in the Winter Riding School.

Every so often I treat myself by going to a gala performances to watch the horses execute perfect dressage in sync with classical music.  Sadly, no photography or videography are allowed during all performances, morning exercises or stable tours so you will have take my word and come to Vienna to see it for yourself.

On a recent trip to Italy my husband and I took a quick detour to visit the Piber Stud.  I wanted to see the foals since I knew that typically they are born in early spring.  In total there were 39 foals this year, all of which are healthy and precious.

It’s definitely a nice life for these horses and thankfully there are enough horse lovers out there who appreciate the breed.  I’m sure that the Lipizzaner will live on for many more years.

I shall leave you with my photo journal from my day at the Piber Stud.


Happy Birthday Gustav Klimt

For those of you who are art lovers you may know that this years marks the 150th birthday of Austrian’s most famous painter, Gustav Klimt.

To be honest I’m not the “artsy” type who has a great knowledge about Art History.  I do however, appreciate art no matter the artist or the price tag; could be a stunning masterpiece by Klimt or could just as fantastic creative finger painting by my 6 year old son.

The largest collection of Klimt’s work is located in Vienna’s Belvedere Palace, which in my opinion is a attraction in itself.   Two Baroque Palaces, the Upper Palace and Lower Palace are situated on beautiful grounds complete with fountains and immaculately maintained gardens.

The Belvedere Museum shows work from different eras too like Impressionism, Contemporary Art and Medieval are to name a few.   “The Kiss” (below), which is Klimt’s most famous piece used golf leafing combined with oil paint to create a stylish modern look in that time (1907-1908).

If you do visit Vienna I encourage you to designate a half day to visit the Belvedere Palace.  Simply beautiful.

Credits: 1 2

Luxury in the Countryside

When you think of the Austrian country side you may picture small hilltop churches, log style cabins and historical castles.  In addition to the traditional settings you will also find hidden gems like the aenea designhotel.   On our way to a weekend trip in Italy my husband and I decided to treat ourselves to the ultimate luxurious experience and spent one night at this Boutique Hotel, which is located in Maria Wörth on Wörthersee (one of Austria’s largest mountain lakes).

The fifteen suites all have lake view with private terraces and the Italian design look is fresh, crisp and clean.  No detail has been spared.  From silk curtains, Minotti furnishings and Etro Bathroom amenities you know that the hotel owners take their hospitality very seriously.

If you wish to escape every day life you will find it easy to de-stress here as they have a full-service spa with an assortment of massages and beauty treatments. Housed in the panoramic view spa is a fully equipped fitness centre, a sauna and steam room, a solarium and an outdoor pool. Guests can relax and soak up the lakeshore atmosphere by taking the hotel’s elevator to their private beach area.

I’ve saved the best part for last as it involves… what else?  Food.  The restaurant offers two locations.  You can dine the next to the cozy fireplace indoors or in a more casual but still sophisticated setting on the terrace.  We noticed that the entire hotel staff seemed young… almost too young to serve alcohol, however, they all oozed high energy and a professional attitude.  The chef, which had amazing creative talent was no exception. Working with local seasonal ingredients we are told that the menu is constantly changing.  My husband and I stuck with our verbal agreement (practically written in our wedding vows) that we each got a different dish so that we “switched” half way through our meals.

My taste of heaven started from the get go.  The bread.  I’m a simple Canadian girl who would happily make a whole meal out of freshly baked bread so it wasn’t a surprise that I “mmmm’d” the whole way through my dining experience.  Served along the bread rolls were a fresh lemon & thyme topfen spread, assorted sea salts, sliced radishes and fresh watercress (so fresh that scissors accompanied the platter). Course by course we both remained silent and simply enjoyed and savoured every bite. From the Fois Gras with peach, rosemary and sheep milk yogurt, White Asparagus with pan choi, grapes & poppy seed foam, to the delicate Sea Bass & robust Ox Cheek all were presented beautifully and were cooked to perfection.  Finally, the dessert.  We normally split one because by that time we are almost uncomfortably full.  The sweet sampler was the perfect choice, which included tarty rhubarb, creamy topfen cake (sort of a mixture of marscapone & sweetened cream cheese), refreshing lemongrass ice cream and a coconut encrusted fluffy meringue .  They do their own version of “petit four” here too which I thought was brilliant.  Lemon sorbet with Green Apple mash, strawberry and mango mini ice cream cones topped with chocolate dipped popping candy, homemade cassis & lemon marshmallow, celery jelly with chocolate moose and nougat bread.  All flavours worked really well together.

After an espresso (for him) and an English Breakfast tea (for me) we concluded that it was necessary to write a blog about this fabulous hotel.  Tired and satisfied we slept well.

Another memorable hotel experience to add to my list of lifetime favourites and I hope that if you ever make your way to Austria you would consider treating yourself to this exceptional experience at the aenea hotel.

Florian Schaible, Hotel Director, (above)  stood proudly when I took this snap shot before we left.  He personally come outside to wish us well on our journey home.

Now that is service!

aenea designhotel
Worthersee SuduferstraBe 86
A – 9081 Reifnitz / Maria Worth
T. : +43.4273.26220
F. : +43.4273.26220.20

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