Horse riding over Saturday’s flowers…

Saturday morning of 7th May 2016. I went horse riding at the Lea Valley horse riding centre in Leyton. I was anxious and didn’t know what to expect as the last time I rode a horse was when I was little, dad used to take us every weekend. So really, it felt anew. But I was excited and proud of myself for taking the leap to at least book the class and show up, seeing that the Gemini in me is quick to move on to the next exciting thing because I get bored quite easily. I have been wanting to learn to ride and become an independent rider for most of my adult life. This one tiny moment of accomplishment overthrew me when I mounted my horse, Dylan, gave him a nice gentle kick with both legs, took a walk with him, trotting with him as I tried to rhythmically bounce my torso on his beautiful white fur back. Dylan and I soon bonded. He is such an amazing horse. I was told he is a really friendly horse, one of those horses who gets on well with all its riders. I guess there was nothing so special about our bond then…Anyway, I was told I needed to work a bit more on my posture and my rise, you know, take a little control once I have the saddle and the horse is in full gear. So my partner and I had a great session. He isn’t so much of a beginner as I observed as he has ridden in his adult life (and watches horse racing daily) but was a little rusty. He suddenly got a grip of it and rode Bill excellently that our teacher, Darren asked him to move to the next level. After walking Bill back to the stable, I whispered to him, ‘You an arsehole!’. He stole my thunder!!! This was meant to be MY session, my passion, my long desired goal. But seriously I was happy he rode great. Again it’s just the Gemini in me which gets quite competitive with something I have a passion for. Our horses were teenagers probably 13-15 and did excellently well. Bill was obviously a bigger horse. They assign horses to you according to their optical illusion of your BMI. Anyway, I was proud of myself. The weather was great too. We booked our next session. I need to get proper jodhpurs and riding boots and then work on getting off a horse more elegantly. You don’t want to know how I managed off him. My back did hurt for two days though. I guess it was a good work out for my torso too. Looking forward to class 2 and all classes over the summer. Then one day, just one day as a result of determination, I will be striking off one thing from my bucket list when I ride independently at Trent Park Equestrian Central with no inhibitions, fear or instructions. Watch this space! 

A Viennese Easter

I know, I know, Easter has been a while now and it’s a little bit outdated to write this but had to.

His birthday was Tuesday. We arrived Vienna early afternoon on Easter Monday, it was a lovely day, the sun shone and there was a cool gentle breeze which filled the air with freshness.  We headed to our hotel, which is to date, Austria´s tallest skyscraper, overlooking the Danube City Tower with a 360 sea view of the Danube River and Vienna city. We had one of the best rooms in the hotel with something they called ‘level’ access which gave us unlimited access to the level floor bar and restaurant. Our minibar was re-filled once each day. The value was fantastic. And we got a birthday bottle of bubbly too!

We checked in, left luggage behind and headed out to explore the beautiful city.

Vienna is beautiful, vibrant, has this relaxed vibe, with lots of cafes, people drinking espressos, Viennese coffees and Sachertorte (Viennese cake), young and older people chilling out, basking in the sun. There is activity everywhere with tourists occupying several places of history and art. It also has this calmness and peace that resonates with what I love about city life. London seemed like a zoo at that instance.

So I will write this blog like the ones we see on the internet- things to do in Vienna. No! ‘Things we did in Vienna over the Easter break’.

Wander, Observe & Discover

Walk around Vienna city and experience the vibrancy of this beautiful clean city. If you are a lover of art, there are art galleries and vintage shops at the artistic hotspot in Schleifmühlgasse, located in the emerging 4th district. Soak in some of that contemporary modern artistry. From the abstract gallery exhibitions to a wide range of displays of urban artistic collaboration of local Austrian art scenes and internationally recognised paintings and photography, to theatre and classical performances, it’s all in there at Austrian’s beautiful capital city.

Go to the Sigmund Freud museum

Take a trip to understand what Sigmund Freud was up in his days. We were in his apartment where Freud lived and worked. This amazing founder of psychoanalysis whom we have all read/studied lived there for decades until he was forced into exile by the Nazis. There is so much history to take out from here if you are Freudian fan from letters to notes, books and other expression of his works that gives one this insight of what a great icon he was and his contribution to humanity, Go Freudian!.

Need a classical bit of Mozart?

Mozart is one of the classical musicians I listen to often after Bach and Handel. We had to drop in to see his home/museum. Mozart, due to his youthful exuberant personality lived in many homes and moved homes a lot that people couldn’t figure out where he really called home. He owed money during his last days from excessive gambling and his lifestyle choices. But Mozart was an interesting chap. The reason why this home was identified and conserved as his legacy/museum was because Mozart lived on the first floor from 1784 to 1787 which reportedly was the lengthiest time he had ever been in any home. It was reported that he was happy there and wrote and composed one of his classical pieces ‘The Marriage of Figaro’. See pictures below.

Try a tour round Hofburg’s Palace

The imperial palace in the centre of Vienna used to be home to monarchs of the Habsburg dynasty but now is the official seat of the Austrian President. In Hofburg, you will find more than two dozen collections of international standings. There are also tourist shops, cafés, restaurants, squares and parks to while away time and sight see. But what stood out for us in Hofburg were two sites. Two specifically… Sisi Museum and the Spanish Riding School.

Sisi Museum

Go discover the private life of Empress Elisabeth and her life from birth to her tragic death. Explore the exhibition of art expressed from her lifetime in the imperial apartments. From her obsession of beauty and appearance, to her interest in art and dark morbid poetry, to her exquisite collection of collections and her lack of interest in politics and royalty which affected her role as a Monarch in her time and then sadly, her unfortunate assassination in Geneva. It was all so splendid and I could connect with several aspects of her life. My partner said the same. “You like the same things she liked”. I think a lot of young women will be inspired by her story. She was a beautiful Empress. I fell in love with her. He and I did. We spent the whole day at Sisi’s. You need at least half a day here.

The (World) Spanish Riding School

He is equalky a lover of horses as I am and an experienced professional in the business of horse racing. If we didn’t go to this, the trip would probably not have been complete. I saw as his eyes lit and he beamed cheek to cheek as we walked in with our tour guide and walked into the stables. Listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, you cannot miss it.  We joined the afternoon group walk at 4pm as had bought tickets the day before. Highlight for us? Meeting the horses. I had tears in my eyes looking at some of them in the eyes. The experience was phenomenal. It inspired me to resume my horse riding classes which I start this weekend. He loved it, I loved it. You have to go. We hope one day to watch a live performance there. Oh, and FYI, no (flash) photography is allowed as this could upset the horses so there were no physical memories for me here only the ones in my mind. If I had dementia or Alzheimer in the future, then that’s one memory unliveable. Photography is me reliving my moments each time I see them. 

If you love European flea markets

…then Nashcmrkt is one to visit for brunch or dinner. Walking through this clean open air market and browsing through the food stalls, the wine and liquor shops, the spice shops, experiencing the aroma of fresh sea food, pickles and olives with the mildest fragrance of fresh cheese made me want to cook and wished I had stayed in a holiday apartment. But we came back that evening for his birthday dinner and had the best seafood platter I have ever tasted with a sharp, fruity Austrian wine in a restaurant lit up with lights in subtle illumination just for the evening. Oh, I got a pretty porcelain floral teapot on our way out too. 

Go wine tasting

Why not feel like a cultured vulture and go wine tasting in Vienna. Explore the amazing fresh taste of Austrian wines with a platter of charcuterie. My partner thinks I am pretentious (whatever!). I love the finest things in life…he absolutely loved it anyway. I take the lead in arranging most of our social hangouts and culture jaunts. 

So I arranged to visit this small intimate family-owned wine tasting bar called Vinothek W-Einkehr. The address is Laurenzerberg 1 | 1010 Vienna, Vienna 1010, Austria if you want to go sometime. The closest station is Schwednplatz on the Metro. It was a delight. We were the only ones there at the time. Early afternoon pleasure. The owner was a gentleman who was helpful and explained the origins and flavours of all the wines. We tasted 6 whites and 6 reds, all Austrian with a platter of charcuterie, which was all fresh. Loved the selection of cheeses.  I wondered whether there was a deliberate action to have a wine tasting bar next to the Police station, you know? just incase some twats decide to…ahem.

The Glory of Vienna

Are you a fan of European Cathedrals? Whether you are religious or not, a tourist trip to a church on a European break is worthwhile. Visit the St Stephen’s Cathedral and explore the wonders of this phenomenal edifice. Light a candle for a couple of pennies or a euro. A trek to the top of the tower and crypts would be worth your while for fantastic views of the city. The interior art of the roof is stunning and I was in awe. I experienced a little moment of Dejavu to the Basilica in Rome. The architecture is mind blowing and represented a lot of pride for me as I walked out. I appreciate Western European architecture.

Wine and dine in style and class

Looking for that one meal to have in style?, lunch or dine at Melia Hotel at the exclusive Level floor (57th floor) and experience a 360 panoramic view of Vienna city including close sights of the banks of Danube river whilst enjoying a traditional meal or locally made Austrian wine. You will not regret it. I promise. Ok just have nibbles and wine —or even a beer, which alone can be drunk in class. It’s not as pricey as London’s fancy restaurants, I promise. Watch the sun set in Vienna sipping on your tea or wine…

Then jump on the Giant Ferris Wheel and then go home!!!