The Happy Wanderer

Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer

This is an interesting topic given that we’re in the throes of planning a trip to Italy for late spring.

Seems to me you can’t leave much to chance anymore, especially if you want to see the major sites.

To avoid line-ups you need to pre-purchase tickets. That’s fine. I have no problem with that. I detest line-ups anyway.

To book events you must do it often months in advance. This we learned the hard way when we tried to buy tickets to a performance of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna on the day of the performance. What were we thinking?


Lippizaners at the Spanish Riding School, Vienna, Austria


We’ve always been fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of travellers so it was huge disappointment to find out our approach to vacations had denied us a chance to see the Lippizaners dance. Instead we enjoyed a tour of the stables and a viewing of a daily practice. This was a thrill, of course, but not what we’d wanted. So, experiences like this, I’ve learned, can no longer be left to chance.

The same with flights. I don’t know if people are travelling more or the airlines are flying fewer plans, but it seems to me gone are the days when you could book a trip three months in advance and expect a reasonable seat on the plane. I suppose the fact that you can now book your seat when you reserve your ticket has had an effect on that too.

We booked our flights to Italy yesterday and we’re not even sitting together on our flight home. Adrenal fatigue has made long haul travel uncomfortable for me the past few years, and wilting (and I mean wilting) beside a stranger on a 10-hour flight is not my idea of a good time. It’s bad enough it happens when I’m sitting next to my husband. I hope we can get someone to switch seats with one of us.

So, as I look at our Italian itinerary, I am determined to make sure we secure the appropriate city passes for events and venues in Florence and Venice ~ two ports of call sandwiching a week in a Tuscan villa. If there’s one thing I don’t want to do it’s stand in long line-ups to see The David. I must use my precious energy wisely.

And we will stay in good hotels. We won’t skimp on quality here … ever. Been there. Done that. It’s a grey t-shirt and uncomfortable. 😉

Sure, some things we will leave to chance. Travel, like life, ought to leave room for a little spontaneity. But for the big things we’re going fully prepared.

We’re planning a trip to London for later in the year. A research trip for my novel. I will be booking major activities in advance. I’d like to attend opening night at the opera; experience afternoon tea at the Ritz; find a nice old pub my characters can hang out in. I’ll do the research for those things in advance and make reservations as necessary.

As I grew up in London and am familiar with the West End and other areas of my youth, I’ll also be happy just to wander, reliving some old memories and taking in the sights with my fresh eyes.

Sounds to me like a bit of pre-planning and some happy wandering make for a balanced travel experience.

I’m good with that. 🙂


Thanks for visiting …

Dorothy 🙂

©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014


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Carriage Trade in Vienna, Austria

Visiting Vienna and the Spanish Riding School had been on my travel bucket list since I was a little girl. So, when we had a chance to visit last fall and make this dream come true, I was over the moon.

Age does not seem to wither my passion for horses, so whenever I visit a place and see they’re a part of the culture above and beyond what I might have imagined, I am always pleasantly surprised.

Vienna has an extensive carriage trade.

The unmistakeable ring of clip-clopping hooves resounding outside our hotel window was my first clue.

“Ooh!” I excitedly pulled back the curtain and looked five storeys down to the street below. “That’s nice!”

The moment passed. I mentioned it to Lloyd and then thought no more of it until a few minutes later another horse and carriage, and then another and then another trotted by in single file on their way into the city centre about 10 minutes away.

Now I was curious.

After breakfast we walked the 15 minutes from our hotel to the Hofburg Palace, our first stop the Spanish Riding School. The alabaster-coloured buildings and monuments seemed to shimmer beneath the veil of a perfect azure sky. I was enthralled.

As we approached city centre the rhythmic cacophony of metal shoes on cobblestones rang out again, from all directions, echoing as brightly off the walls of the narrow streets as the sunlight that burst upon them. Pealing church bells punctuated the clatter on the quarter hour until all was sensory overload. It was, at times, almost overwhelming.

When we arrived at the Michaelerplatz just outside the Hofburg Palace (where this image was taken) horses and carriages and their respective drivers were waiting for fares. Ever the romantic I knew I just had to see Vienna from a horse-drawn carriage.

So, after purchasing our tickets for the Spanish Riding School stable tour, which would happen later in the day, we paid our fare and revelled in a 60-minute tour of Vienna’s beautiful sites in a carriage pulled by Fritz and Friedl, a lovely team of greys.

I knew I would love Vienna.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012

Talking Heads

Talking Heads

Let’s leave Ireland for a moment (we will be back there often as I LOVE it), and take a trip to Vienna.

Last September I had the thrill of visiting the Spanish Riding School for the first time. The culmination of a life-long dream spurred by my love of horses.

First of all, let me say that I LOVED Vienna. It’s such a beautiful, vibrant and historical city, resplendent in white and ringing with the music of the centuries. From the beat of horses hooves on the cobblestone streets to the street musicians entreating us with their love of Mozart, the mood was bright and aptly reflected by the beaming sunlight from perfect blue skies.

The Spanish Riding School was a highlight of our short stay and we registered for an escorted tour of the stables — a building every bit as grand and impressive as the palaces that surround it. The one drawback was, hmm, no photo taking inside the stables. So, what to do?

The photo featured here was taken on the other side of plexiglass that divided the stable from the street. As I was watching the interaction between these two horses I managed to find a gap in the crowd and a section of glass not too beaten up. I clicked away with my Nikon D70s, no flash, and hoped I would capture something both memorable and clear. I’m thrilled with the result!

It’s a bit of a one-sided conversation between two Lippizaner stallions. The expressions in their respective eyes tell the whole story.

Copyright Aimwell Enterprises 2012