Travel

Vienna: Holiday Sights and Sounds

This is a very late write-up but given that I’m home today thanks to the blizzard that blew in yesterday, I’m finally taking the time to post up some pictures of a holiday trip last month. A friend and I went travelling mid-December, joining a week-long escorted tour of some of Europe’s wonderful Christmas markets. Everyone was arriving at different times and from far flung locales but we were all to meet in Vienna, where the tour would begin.

St. Stephen's Cathedral

My friend M arrived two days ahead of me and scoped out much of the city so when I got there, she was already somewhat familiar with mass transit and some of the areas we would end up walking through.

Stadion station

Donaukanal near Schottenring station

(This is the Donaukanal, or the “Little Danube” canal.)

Kirche Maria am Gestade (Mary at the Shore Church)

Athena Fountain, Austrian Parliament Building

Despite the large number of grand buildings that populate the city, in actuality, Vienna seems very small. It’s pretty manageable to get from one part of town to another, provided one can read maps carefully. I’m usually pretty good at that but this trip caught me by surprise and given the unending amount of projects I’ve been on at work for the last few months, I hadn’t had time to do any preparations. So I was very glad to just follow M around for the two days we were in town.

Freyung Passage

Our tour director, Kate, was going to take us to the largest Christmas market in Vienna our first night but we just stumbled upon it ourselves in the afternoon. It’s located in the park in front of the grand Town Hall, with the stalls spread out across the grounds. The two of us skirted around it and saved walking through for the evening, which made it look even more enchanting with all the holiday decorations lit up. There are plenty of Christmas markets around town; I think we ended up walking through a half dozen or so, possibly more. Since many of the stalls sold very similar items across all the markets, I freely admit to becoming bored of them after the first two days. Fortunately, there were variations as we traveled to other cities and countries so it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Christmas Market at the Vienna Rathausplatz

Christmas decorations for sale

Cupcake tree

(Yes, those are cupcakes in the tree. There were other trees lit up and decorated with other fun objects, such as hearts, toys, and bows.)

Am Hof Advent Market

A night of Christmas holiday shopping was followed in the morning with a tour of the fabulous Schönbrunn Palace. We were there bright and early, when the Palace is opened only for tour groups before general admission. I’m glad we decided to visit the Palace with our group since it allowed us better access to see the grand rooms and fine furniture on a more intimate scale. Wandering from room to room sometimes meant standing in a very narrow corridor and it helped that we weren’t surrounded by a crowd of people trying to jostle and get past us.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace grounds

And the grounds are absolutely stunning. I’ve seen them on television while watching concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic and it was nice to be able to take in the view in person. There wasn’t enough time to go all the way up the hill in the gardens but we did climb it for a bit and was rewarded with a panorama of the city in the background.

Austrian National Library, Josefsplatz

Pinocchio shop

And then we returned to the city where we looked at some ancient ruins and more grand buildings. Not as fancy but definitely charming enough to catch one’s eye was the shop where Pinocchio sat outside, ready to take a photo with passersby. The shop sells a wide variety of wooden clocks with illustrations that wouldn’t look out of place in a Disney film.

2 responses

  1. I think you’d enjoy it, Jules! Especially if you want to be immersed in Christmas overload. I’m going to be posting more photos from the rest of the trip, so stay tuned. 🙂

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