Saturday, November 28, 2009

A little taste of Christmas in Vienna...

Here we are, in Vienna, Austria. Yesterday after school, Allison and myself taxied to Holosevice train station and 4.5 hours later we were in Vienna. It was dark so there was not too much to see, but after finishing my book and napping we had a good conversation with a guy from Australia who has been traveling through Europe for 20 days... cool!
The famous and biggest Christmas Market in Vienna- Christkindle Market in front of Vienna City Hall. There was sooo much to see- rows and rows of vendors, their booths filled with ornaments, cookies, candy, jewelery, candles, knick-knacks, and yummy food! After strolling for a while, Ali and I snacked on a Bratwurst with mustard- ah, Viennese mustard is so much better than Praha mustard! We also tried hot rum punch! YUCK! I sipped on it, dumped it out and saved the mug!
After walking through the first market, we decided to take the U (metro) to the Schonbrunn Palace. This is an incredible place. I have been to this palace before- it is still huge! I toured the entire grounds- inside and out with my Crusade buddies after summer project in 2004. It was a great way to debrief after our 2 week ministry in Moldova! Today, the palace courtyard was filled with what I think was the most eclectic market we visited.
There were so many vendors with hand painted ornaments, fresh beeswax candles, and many varieties of beautiful glass and pottery. I loved stopping by the toy booths all the cool, wooden, hand painted toys. I bought my parents the coolest gift at this market! I cannot tell you about it now because they read my blog and I don't want to spoil it... I promise to post a picture on Christmas Day!

After walking through 4 markets, we relaxed our cold, tired feet in our hotel room for an hour. Then we bundled up, grabbed our mugs and headed out to see the city at night! We walked around two more markets. The first was in the Museum Quarter. Below is a short video of this fun interactive holiday scene. I love the little skiers going up and down the slopes...

The last market we browsed was Spittelberg Christmas Market. It is Vienna's most historic market- and it was alive and buzzing! We filled up our mugs a few more times, me with hot, mulled wine and Ali tried various flavors of hot punch. Everything is so beautiful here. the markets are decorated with green garlands, ornaments, and bows. The buildings are tall and luminous.. people describe Vienna as a "Wedding Cake"- perfect and pristine! No joke, the buildings are incredibly well taken care of and the streets are clean. Vienna is a mix of modern and historic. Tomorrow, we plan to enjoy a local breakfast cafe, shop on Mariahilfer strasse, (Vienna's biggest shopping district... one long street); We will take in one last Christmas market and then train home in the late afternoon.

With the gratefulness of Thanksgiving still lingering and Christmas just around the corner, I am thankful for a job, free weekends, and finances to travel to places such as Vienna. Being here, browsing the multitudes of glass angels and wooden nativity scenes prepares my heart for the upcoming celebration of Jesus' birth- the "reason for the season" - a reason to be joyful...
Ciao- Nikki

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