The lead up to Christmas in Austria Part 1 – Vienna

First and foremost, Merry Christmas to all! I can’t believe how quickly time flies and to think that this time last year, I was in Bali, Indonesia with my family dreading the return home and return to the office.

So I am grateful that the ‘Present Anna’ is a lot more happier than ‘Past Anna’. In fact, I think the ‘Past Anna’ would be pretty impressed at the things ‘Present Anna’ has gotten up to; and for that, I am grateful for all the things that have happened in this huge year.

One of the things that Past Anna only dreamt about, was to have a winter Christmas. Present Anna can happily say that she has ticked this dream off the list! Unfortunately, the magical white Christmas eluded us, but that did not diminish the wonder and awe that a Northern Hemisphere Christmas brings. I think of my friends and family back in Australia, enjoying their singlets, shorts, BBQs and beers and I get moments when I miss hitting the beach, the glaring brilliant sun, bringing my speakers and pumping some summery tunes, going out on my $5 body board for awesome cheap thrills, snorkelling at my home reef and eating ice cream and fish and chips after a long day by the sea. Though those moments are fleeting, as I have beautiful things around me to just take my breath away.

Anyways, now moving onto our time in Austria. Because there is so much to cover, I have split my post into two. So this one is about Vienna, and the next post will be about Innsbruck.

Vienna, Austria

After Florence, Kev and I wanted to find some snow and we wanted to go to Austria. We got in touch with Martina and Dan, who if you remember, we met in Rome at Mario’s apartment in Trastevere. Martina and Dan opened their hearts and homes to us! We ended up staying with them for a week and it was so great to get to know them better with Vienna as a back drop!

We had such long and deep conversations about culture, history and people in general over tea, chocolate and breads. We discussed the differences in Austrian German and German German (Martina gave us some really cool impressions), the nature of the close relationship between Austria and Germany (Austria being seen as the little brother of Germany) and how Australians are viewed (Australians are known for travel, and specifically for extended travels when in Europe). We also had some great chats about WWII and the German, Austrian and Australian’s point of view. What really impressed me from these conversations was that all Europeans (not just Austrians and Germans) have such a rich history which involve its neighbouring countries. As such, they are aware of culture differences and the fact that they will need to deal with those differences in their lives. This is an ongoing thing that all Europeans deal with. In Australia, being an island with no connecting countries surrounding us (where another country may walk across our boarders), we are able to live quite autonomously. But as such, we do not really see the need, to learn about the countries and cultures around us. I am amazed at how much someone in Europe will know about the culture, language and history of a neighbouring country. Whereas here I am with English as my first and only language. I mean I make efforts to learn other languages because I’m interested in them, but I will never be as fluent as the Europeans who learn from a young age. I only wish that it was compulsory for Australians to be taught about the culture, language and history of our neighbours in school and university too.

OK, so back to Vienna. Apologises for running off track… again.

Unfortunately, it was in Vienna where Kev and I were both hit by a bad case of the flu. After an awesome run around the Old Danube with Dan and I, Kev started to feel hot, chills and exhausted. He rested in the afternoon, however, he continued to get worse. To the point that his stomach wouldn’t hold food. So we stayed in and rested until Kev started getting better. However, just as Kev recovered, I started getting sick. Same symptoms. This was not ideal. So we did not see a lot of Vienna. We did however, still managed to have some low key fun indoors, and when we did get the chance to go out, we had a blast! Here are some photos that cover what we got up to in Vienna.

Martina, Dan, Kev and I on our first day in Stephansplatz, Vienna
Martina, Dan, Kev and I on our first day in Stephansplatz, Vienna
Outside the Hofburg Palace.
Outside the Hofburg Palace.
Walking down Graben, Vienna. The pedestrian beautiful street.
Walking down Graben, Vienna. The pedestrian street.
Me, Kev and Dan at the Christmas markets drinking Gluhwein.
Me, Kev and Dan at the Christmas markets drinking Gluhwein.
Martina and Dan's beautiful apartment looking out onto the Old Danube.
Martina and Dan’s beautiful apartment looking out onto the Old Danube.
Martina showing us how to cook a traditional Austrian pizza. I forgot the name of it.
Martina showing us how to cook a traditional Austrian pizza. I forgot the name of it.
Kev getting into the dough.
Kev getting into the dough.
Cycling along the Old Danube River to and from the train station.
Cycling along the Old Danube River to and from the train station.
Kev's first proper meal in Vienna after recovering from his flu.
Kev’s first proper meal in Vienna after recovering from his flu – Käsekrainer (cheese sausage) with curry sauce.
Watching a traditional Viennese 'operetta' called Die Fledermaus (The Bat).
Watching a traditional Viennese ‘operetta’ called Die Fledermaus (The Bat).
Running around the Old Danube in pretty cold weather.
Running around the Old Danube in pretty cold weather.

Christmas Markets in Vienna

Besides having a white Christmas, the other thing I really wanted to do was to see the Christmas markets! I’ve dreamed about these for years and I remember wishing that one day I could go to one. Luckily we went to Vienna as this city has so many different Christmas markets! It was unbelievable. When Kev got better, we spent one night exploring them. What can I say? I wish we had something similar back home. But it only really works when Christmas a winter one.

I loved seeing all the fairy lights bringing the usually dark and quiet squares and parks alive. The warm smells that wraps us up as we pass by, warming our numb noses and tingly cheeks. The jolly atmosphere from families walking together, eating together, drinking together and enjoying each other. This was just wonderful.

Vienna's biggest Christmas market.
Vienna’s biggest Christmas market, Wiener Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz.
Beautiful handmade decorations!
Beautiful handmade decorations!
We call them gingerbread men. However, Martina and Dan told us that these do not have ginger in them and are called lebkuchen.
We call them gingerbread men back home. However, Martina and Dan told us that these do not have ginger in them and are called lebkuchen.

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SPRINKLES! :)
SPRINKLES! 🙂
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Marshmellow kebab covered in white chocolate and coloured sprinkles! YAY!

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Some fried garlic bread. Don't underestimate its bland looks. This was delicious!
Lango – fried garlic bread. Don’t underestimate its bland looks. This was unbelievably delicious!

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Kev outside the Museum.
Kev outside the Museum Quarter.
More mulled wine
More mulled wine from the Christmas markets outside of the Museum Quarter.
Impractical bear gloves. YUP I bought them. The left one I've named Gunter and the right one is called Fredrick.
Very impractical bear gloves. And YUP I bought them. These were in the Christmas markets in District 7 – the arty area. The left one I’ve named Gunter and the right one is called Fredrick.

See what I mean? Christmas is just magical here! My pangs for a summery Christmas at home are very, very short lived.

Martina and Dan were just wonderful hosts. They allowed us to experience life as a local by showing us the cycle path to the train station, lending us their bikes, telling us were to eat and in general, really looked after us. They even helped us find a doctor for Kev to see! They’ve starting their own Airbnb arrangement for their apartment! So if you ever want a beautiful place to stay in that is on the Old Danube, and a place that will allow you to experience commuting to and from the City centre like a local, definitely look these guys up on Airbnb here : https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2012889 .

Stay tuned for part two… in Innsbruck!

Our footprints: http://spiked.it/J6bvjSz , http://spiked.it/DYtnSRs

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