Vienna is a beautiful city in Austria which is rich in history and was home to great classical composers such as Mozart and Strauss. Though these are great reasons to visit Vienna, the main purpose of our stay was to sample the delicious Austrian delicacies and mulled wines best found in many of Vienna’s Christmas Markets.
We visited four Christmas markets during our stay but my favourite has to be Rathausplatz. Rathausplats Christmas markets is set in one of Vienna’s prettiest parks and has some of Vienna’s most beautiful buildings that serve as its backdrop.
During the day, we’d sample traditional cakes such as the sachertorte, donuts stuffed with marmalade and sprinkled with icing sugar and the Transylvania cake! The sachertorte is a rich and moist chocolate cake, with a subtle layer of apricot marmalade. The richness of the chocolate is balanced perfectly with the tartness of the apricot. The Transylvania cake was a much lighter dessert as it’s more like a thin donut that has been wrapped around wooden dowels and grilled over hot coals until brown. When the cake is piping hot, it is then slid off the wooden dowel and coated with a topping of your choice – my favourite was cinnamon!
When our sweet tooth was satisfied, we scoured the markets for delicious bratwurst sausages in freshly made bread, garlic langos (flat deep-fried bread), roasted chestnuts, giant pretzels and goulash eaten straight out of a bowl made out of bread. I couldn’t get enough of the cheese bratwurst sausages that oozed cheese after every bite – eaten so quickly that I didn’t pause for a picture!
What made the Christmas markets special were the Christmas decorations, the music, pony rides and all round Christmas cheer that fills the markets with such joy. It could have been the apple cider or mulled wine that made everyone seem so happy, but I still think that Austrians know how to do Christmas Markets! The warm drinks are always served in Christmas mugs, which I think made the whole “drinking spicy, hot chocolate/mulled wine/apple cider in the middle of a Christmas market” experience seem that much more interesting! I kept mine as a souvenir to remember my time in Vienna.
Whenever I look at the Christmas mug, I remember the nice lady that we met at one of the Christmas markets. She was waiting for her friend while sipping on mulled wine to keep herself warm. She politely interrupted our conversation and asked us if we were British. I have only been living in London for 10 months so was greatly surprised by this. She then noted that my friends sounded Australian. This kicked off some further conversation and soon we were getting tips that only a local could provide. She gave us a list of local restaurants that served delicious snitzels and local wine. She gave us a list of the best Christmas markets and told us stories about the history of Vienna. I was quite interested to know that Mozart played in the halls of many of the Palaces and that his music had some comedic aspects. I was also intrigued by her thoughts about the local way of life: Viennese will not let the cold stop them from enjoying the outdoors, they just dress to be comfortable and brave the cold anyway! I guess this is why the Christmas markets were full with people, regardless of the 2 degree temperature! When it was time to move onto the next Christmas market, we said good-bye and she gave us a newspaper as a parting gift. She was the editor of The Vienna Review, a local newspaper. It was no wonder why she had so much knowledge of this great city!
This will be my first Christmas away from family for the first time in my life so it has been important for me to continue the Christmas spirit here in the UK and Europe. Christmas is a special time for me and I am looking forward to spending my first white Christmas here. There will be no barbecues and beaches for us this year but I think Europe makes up for it with its winter wonderlands. Have a fantastic holiday everyone (whether you celebrate Christmas or not) and may you be blessed with amazing times with your family and friends this holiday!
Related articles: read some more blogs about the Vienna Christmas markets