Lipica, Slovenia

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Slovenia is famous for its bridges and good beer.

It’s also home of the Lipizzaner horses, bred for dancing fame in Vienna.  Hey guys!

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Lipizzaners are named after the town of Lipica, Slovenia.  Their trademark feature is being born black and fading lighter each year as they get older, eventually turning completely white.   In this picture, the black colts are babies, going to the barn to have dinner with their Moms.

The Stallions have private stalls and a private barn, where they train to become dancers at Vienna’s Spanish Riding School.  So who was the first person to figure out that a horse can dance?

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The Austrian Emperor started the Lipizzaner farm in the 16th century in order to breed the best horses in the world.   After years of practice, the horses really do learn to dance!  You can see the Lipizzaners performing in shows in Vienna, but since the kids have a week off school for Fall Break, we decided to start our vacation by seeing a show at the farm instead.

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It’s hard to take impressive pictures of dancing horses in a darkly lit stadium, but I managed to get a few…

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There was a carriage house full of restored vintage carriages, some over a hundred years old, and we walked through the stables to rub noses with the horses.  Their names and their parents’ names are meticulously tracked along with their birthdays, to keep the breed “strong.”

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The topic of “breeding” sparked some interesting questions from Jake and Eli, but in true little boy form, they quickly got lost in collecting chestnuts and seeing how far they cold throw them across the grass.

It was a beautiful fall day with sunlight pouring through the trees.

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We climbed on rocks and listened to a live band, and had lunch outside under a canopy of leaves.  After sampling the local brew, we decided that Slovenian beer is better than Austrian beer.  Without strong ties to tradition, the craft beer industry is brewing strong!  This one, though dark, was delicious.

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After the show was over and we were done wandering around the white-fenced pastures, we drove back to Ljubljana to spend the night.  Slovenian restaurants, like the beer, are also more interesting than Austrian ones, with menus that reflect a younger generation and are a little more adventurous.  Most Austrian places have the same things on the menu (goulash, schnitzel, cordon bleu), but in Slovenia you can get things like seafood and duck breast, and I don’t know if it’s a mark of progress of not, but hamburgers are everywhere.  The gnocchi at this restaurant is so good we went twice!

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In Ljubljana, there is a palpable attitude of looking forward rather clinging to the past.  I guess we would probably do that too if we’d lived for decades behind the Iron Curtain.

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In the morning we have breakfast at the hotel, the best part about being on vacation!  We make countless trips to the buffet for croissants and fried eggs, and let the boys take turns pushing buttons on the coffee machine to make our cappuccinos.   Tourists fill the tables speaking every language but English, and pile their plates with grilled sausages and potatoes.  It’s interesting to see what other people like to eat first thing in the morning.  When breakfast is free, it often appears that they don’t expect to eat anything again for days…

I can’t resist the kiwis.

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I also can’t resist these guys.

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