"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Germany Journals, Part 4, Piber

Some friends of mine in Moose Pass are looking for someone to share a horse.  By "share,” they mean assist with the expense and work of maintaining a horse in Alaska, as well as sharing the pleasure of riding the animal (and working two jobs to pay the feed bill).

I responded to their e-mail, writing that if they could find a horse like the ones in the  photos I attached, I might be interested.   I also mentioned that I knew where there might be one available for 12,000 Euros, which translates to something like $18,000 plus freight from Europe to Alaska. 

 Fat chance, huh?

Of course, this wouldn’t be just any old nag; this would be a royal horse, one of the famous white Lipizzans of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna.


"Hello, hello?  Come visit with me."
The stout man with close cropped hair was barking orders at us in German, which none of us understood, but there was no doubting the meaning of his gestures.  Obviously we weren’t supposed to be where we were, when we were, but a white mare ran up to the half-open stable door and craned her neck out to see us.

It was also obvious that SHE wanted us to visit.  She watched as we walked (slowly) away.

She was still watching as we rounded the corner of her stable and disappeared from sight.  That’s when I realized we were in the presence of something special at this place that breeds Lipizzan horses for the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna.

We were early, to be sure.  Like, three hours before the stud farm at Piber opened for visitors, but when you stay immediately next door at a quaint pension, it’s difficult not to be early.  Besides, these white horses were the whole reason we had driven for hours and hours to this southeastern area of Austria.

Our gasthof at Piber.
I don’t know whether or not the man in the gray apron who was shooing us away from the mares’ stable (and the stallions’ paddock and the mares with foals paddock) was one of the Piber stable hands who had been whooping it up in the pension the previous night, but he could have been. 
Gasthof Gunter Bardel
I don’t know because as soon as we opened the door to the downstairs restaurant, I was enveloped in noxious cigarette smoke, and retreated to cleaner ( a relative term) air as quickly as I could.

My delightful, charming room.
Even on the third floor the smell in the hallway was strong and I doubted my ability to stay in this establishment.  My room, however, was spared the stink.  While my friends went downstairs to eat dinner, I stayed in my room.  After a while, Betsey brought me a plate of Wienerschnitzel and French fries—mit  ketchup—so I didn’t go to bed hungry.  

Our breakfast table at Gasthof Gunter Bardel.
As if that was possible.  We’d already established a pattern of three hearty meals a day supplemented with almost continuous browsing and grazing.

My short exposure to the smoke had already resulted in a scratchy throat and I could feel a headache starting, so I stayed in my room and escaped further symptoms.  By morning the smoke had dissipated.  My stay at Gasthof Gunter Bardel was otherwise fine.  The room was charming, the breakfast good and plentiful, and the ambiance unbeatable.

This was the view out my window the next morning.  During summer months, the Lipizzans are exercised in the arena on the left.

For these reasons, I have no trouble recommending it to anyone, but I'd certainly warn them that it is a smoking establishment.  That's something we in the US usually don't remember to ask about anymore.
But back to the horses.

(to be continued)


  1. I'm glad you got out of the smokey environment when you did. Headaches are a pain, especially when on vacation.

    I can't wait to read more about the horses.

  2. Snivel... I sooo envy the trip to Piber Stud!! Did you see anyone ride? Pictures please... PICTURES!! IWANT2SEEPITCHURS!!!!