Our trip to Vienna snuck up on me a bit. I forgot about it until the week we were going so it was a nice surprise to remember a few days before we left. This was our first venture in to a German speaking country so I was pretty excited to try out my German after a decade of not using what I learnt at school at all. Turns out it’s pretty easy, unlike in France when I could barely get through ordering a baguette, I could comfortably order in German and understand what people replied back with. Needless to say Dayna had to put up with me speaking German to her for the whole weekend as well even though she didn’t understand what I was saying.
We left work at midday to catch our flight to Vienna but by the time we made it to our hotel it was getting late. After negotiating our Hotel’s ancient 100 year old lift, we ventured out to find a nice local restaurant for a late dinner and found some classic Viennese cuisine on offer. If you count Mexican as classic Viennese cuisine that is. We did have to order it in German based on a German menu though. A couple of Quesadillas and Mexican beers later we were ready to crash to get ready for the Christmas markets the next day.
It seems like someone has walked through Vienna and wherever there is space for it they’ve built another Christmas market. Knowing that, our plan was to spend our time just walking around, criss crossing Vienna until we had been to all the markets but we started the day with a little journey out to Schönbrunn Palace where one of the further out Christmas markets was located. It was also the final stop on an episode of a recent season of Amazing Race that we had watched so we were pretty excited to see another pit stop in person.
We were greeted with some perfect Christmas weather – our first snow this winter. It might have been cold but it made drinking Glühwein (mulled wine) and eating Pretzel’s even better.
Dayna cringed at first when she spotted a big group of obviously proud Canadians plastered with Maples leafs and flags. Instead of being a group of tourists though, it actually turned out to be a choir group all the way from Canada.
We kept on like we started for the rest of the weekend with regular mulled wines, bratwursts and pretzels at a string of different markets. We also managed to get some culture in with the Albertina museum for a Matisse exhibit and getting stuck in the middle of a Ukrainian protest by St Stephen’s Cathedral.
Our favourite market was Rathausplatz market, right by our hotel. We had heard a bit about the Rathaus markets from friends (Leah and Jase) that got engaged there and we ended up going a couple of times over the weekend. We did manage to get in a bit of a fight with a bratwurst vendor there though. I thought I had clearly stated that I wanted two of the large thick bratwursts but the Austrian vendor misheard and got two thin hotdogs ready despite my protests. He then wouldn’t take no for an answer so we had to retreat in to the crowd to escape his wrath. We ended up finding even better bratwursts (filled with cheese) around the corner from a nice cheerful Austrian so it turned out well for us.
Vienna was pretty quiet and we didn’t spot a lot to do but the Christmas markets really made the city come to life. It was such a happy family atmosphere at all of the markets that you couldn’t help being caught up in the cheery Christmas mood everyone was in. We’re now hooked on Christmas markets so will be looking for another good spot to go next year. Vienna was unfortunately our last trip of 2013 and (for now) until April which is possibly the longest we will have gone without a trip since leaving New Zealand. We’re planning on doing things around London to keep us from getting cabin fever but there’s always the possibility we may crack and get a last minute deal somewhere. Unlikely though as we have a big trip (and our wedding) in August to look forward to! Our year in review post will be up soon (is it really that time again?) but until then, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!