Yesterday morning we had some free time so I decided to finally attend one of the famous Hofburg Palace Spanish Riding School Lipizzaner morning exercise sessions. I'd been wanting to go for some time but with my morning classes, it was almost impossible. This week, we had some schedule changes so our Wednesday morning was free. It is kind of advertised as a "practice" session but really it's more just exercising for the horses because they are cramped up in stalls most of the day. (Their stables are right in the middle of the city so they don't have any pasture!) They didn't do many cool tricks, either, just some little basic ones, but I was still able to observe some minor training and correctional techniques and watching all the cute riding school boys was definitely worth it. ;)
I'm still not, however, convinced the Lippizzaner horses are that attractive. They are stalky with big, sagging bellies and unusually thick necks (even the geldings!) Fun to watch but I just don't think they are as "beautiful" everyone makes them out to be. There seems to be something off about their conformation. Still cool, though, and I'm sure the horses I saw were part of the bloodlines that have been in the Habsburg Dynasty for hundreds of years.Tomorrow we're going to Bratislava for a class field trip. It's only about an hour away from Vienna and there are direct trains all the time going back and forth. I'm not 100% sure what our itinerary is but I'm guessing we'll be walking around and observing different areas of the city and how they differ from one another and/or how they differ or are similar to Vienna. I think we should be done around 6pm and my plan is to continue on to Budapest, which will be another couple hours further on the train. I've booked a hostel in the center of the city so I'll probably stay there Friday night and Saturday night. I should have plenty of time to explore the city and hopefully I'll be able to get back to Vienna in the late afternoon.The winter quarter students are leaving next week so we have a few papers due and some final exams coming up. (That all sounds really ominous but really, it's not...) After the winter students leave - there are 7 so almost half of us will be gone! - it's going to be pretty relaxed. We'll only have two more weeks - it's going by so fast!! Hopefully the weather will cooperate and allow for some final exploration of Vienna before everyone takes off for good. I know several students will be staying around and/or traveling throughout Europe a few weeks afterward. I'd say the average is about 3 weeks, like me.Still working out my own post-program plans...

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