We started with exercise

Yes, it was our day for watching the Lipizzaner stallions work out in the morning. They are not performing this month – all worn out from the holidays – but they do get put through their basic paces each day, and don’t mind an audience. I ‘mistakenly’ took a few shots.

Later on the street, we were able to see the horses in their stable from a legal distance, so we could admire them once more. So beautiful.

We toured a few churches today, starting with the Augustinian church where Franz Joseph and Sisi were married, and where the hearts of the Habsburgs are available for viewing after Sunday Mass. (Gives new meaning to the Tony Bennett sentiment.) The royals would watch the action from windows above the altar.

It was starting to snow afterwards, so we thought it was a good time to take a bus tour. Saw quite a bit of Vienna, but not too much that could be photographed through wet windows in a moving bus. But we do now have more of a sense of the lay of the land. We did see the famous Prater ferris wheel and got another Third Man chill.

Next, on to the State Opera House for a tour. (Don will be attending a performance of La fanciulla del West this evening.) This is mostly a post-war reconstruction, but some of the rooms, including the original Emperor’s sitting room and the Intermission Lounge are still intact. Lots of folks here for the tours, considering it’s a snowy day in mid-January. Summers must be brutal.

Having earned some refreshment, we went across the street to the famous Hotel Sacher (more Third Man!) for a treat in the cafe, which naturally features the one and only original Sacher Torte. Accept no substitutes. We had to queue for a bit, but finally secured a table on which to enjoy The Torte, along with a slice of a fruit ring cake, Viennese coffee for Don and hot chocolate for me. Sigh. It was all so lovely, though I do think that was our chocolate quota for the month.

Then it was off to St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic Church in Vienna, and the site of a church since 1147. It contains the 15th century casket of Frederick III, who may have been able to keep his heart. The iconic tile roof was destroyed just at the end of WWII, but the Viennese were determined to rebuild and – while that process may never really end – today we can admire the effect of those colors and patterns. The church is huge and ornate, set in a lovely plaza that really allows for it to be seen.

Just to counteract all that sweetness, we did try some Vienna street food. Their version of a hot dog was quite tasty! The bun is impaled on a heating device that makes a hole for the dog. Condiments added next and then the main event. Munched on our way home after a long day of sight-seeing. We’re tired!

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