My second time in Vienna was a trip with Peiwen and Alex. Alex and his mum warmly welcomed us into their beautiful home to stay for two days.
We were there to see the famous Christkindlmarkt. From about mid November, many squares transform into festive Christmas markets. Yes, Christmas is a BIG thing in Austria, and all around Europe. Out of all the Christmas markets in Vienna, the main one, and by far, the most beautiful and grandest Christmas market I’ve seen, is the one at Rathausplatz (City Hall Square). It is on the top 10 lists of many of the best Christmas markets in Europe. For the locations of the Christmas markets in Vienna, click HERE.
All around town, the streets were adorned with Christmas lights, decorations and Christmas trees. It was really stunning at night.
Beautiful street lights around the Historic Center of Vienna
If only Christmas was like this in Singapore! But it would be extremely expensive!
On the first night, we visited the Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz.
Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz
At this Christkindlmarkt, you will find over 150 stalls selling everything Christmassy. What makes it different is its setting, in the foreground of the Rathaus (City Hall), a beautiful and imposing Neo-Gothic building. Then there are the myriad of coloured lights that illuminate the market. Because I suck at night photography, I don’t think I managed to capture the beauty and ambience of the Christmas market. It is definitely a must-do when you’re in Vienna during Advent, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas. Vienna might convert you!
Of course, there is a lot of food available at the Christkindlmarkt. I was very attracted (as usual) to the sweet stuff and glühwein (mulled wine). The cakes and sweet treats were so beautifully made.
Austrian specialties – Sacher, Mozart & Apfelstrudel
Das Wiener Rathaus (City Hall)
We bought a slice of chocolate cake and a huge Krapfen (a.k.a a doughnut, or Berliner) for breakfast the next day. Peiwen and I also got a cup of mulled wine each, and walked back to Alex’s place slowly sipping (and spilling) the wine. How it works at Christmas markets is that you pay for the drinks with the price of the cup included. It is not a plastic cup, or any old cup, but a special one with drawings and little pictures that are 3D. When, and if you return the cup, you get a few Euros back. If you don’t, then you simply keep the cup. So yes, I did not steal the cup. It is a nice souvenir!
The next day, we visited Schloß Schönbrunn. I didn’t manage to visit the palace the last time I was in Vienna with Cindy, so my two friends happily (or reluctantly) agreed to follow me. We just visited the garden, because apparently, just seeing the palace building and the garden alone is good enough.
Christmas market at Schönbrunn
Initially constructed as a palatial hunting lodge by the Habsburgs, the palace was later used by the courts under Maria Theresia.
The name Schönbrunn means “beautiful well” – the well referring to a well where the courts got their water. The word schön was one of the first German words I learnt. Schönen Tag (good day), people! In 1918, with the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy, ownership of Schönbrunn Palace was transferred to the newly founded Republic of Austria.
Alex is smiling!
We walked up the hill, through the gardens and caught an amazing view of Vienna from high up.
I had to Google the meaning of gloriette – “A gloriette is a building in a garden erected on a site that is elevated with respect to the surroundings”.
After Schönbrunn, we made our way back to town to get lunch. I think Alex was famished! We had a buffet lunch at some restaurant before heading back home to take a break. We considered going to the opera, but decided against it since no one was really too fond of it. Instead, we went out to get some veal to cook ourselves dinner. We were going to cook a typical Viennese dish – Wiener Schnitzel!
Alex’s Oma (grandma) gave him the recipe, so we set out to get the ingredients – some flour, meat, and lard to cook. I didn’t even know they sold that lard like that. It was packaged like butter and looked like petroleum jelly. Anyway, I did most of the cooking. 😛
I think it is an extremely easy recipe. There really isn’t any way to go wrong, unless you burn it. I thought this recipe was as close as it could get: Wiener Schnitzel recipe.
We cooked some rice to go, and garnished with it with lemon. It was really simple, yet delicious. Am I a fan of Wiener Schnitzel though? I don’t care much for it, but I would eat it if someone served it (I guess).
Our homemade Wiener Schnitzel
Thank you to Alex and his mum for making us feel so at home in Vienna!
Really awesome chocolate from Alex’s mum as our farewell gift
The three of us returned to Graz after our short trip together.
Back to school! On the train ride back, I was working hard on my German homework and studying hard for my exam. Fortunately, I had two German speakers to help me 🙂