Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Vienna: Day 1

We're back! We've been back for 1.5 weeks now, but I've been buried under piles of laundry and emails. The worst part about a vacation is coming back from vacation. Luckily, the blow has been softened by one of my favorite things - the Christmas season. When I haven't been doing laundry or catching up at work, it's been all decorating and baking and shopping and party planning and even some furniture deliveries. It's hard to complain about any of that.

Now, let's get back to this vacation.

We left on a Friday night, direct from Dulles to Vienna (have I mentioned how much I love living near 3 major airports with direct flights to just about anywhere?). I should clarify that we are talking Vienna, Austria here. There is a Vienna in Virginia, and a trip from Dulles to Vienna, Virginia, is about the saddest vacation known to man. I digress.

Unbeknownst to me, Jon upgraded our seats to business class. This was an excellent decision, and I'm now ruined for life. It was so lovely to push a button and have my seat recline flat for our overnight flight. Of course, I still didn't sleep great, but at least I was comfy!

We landed in Vienna on Saturday morning. We stopped at the hotel to drop off our bags, and lucky us, our room was ready and they had upgraded us to a view of the famed Vienna Opera House. This vacation was already starting off on the right foot. I wanted to take a nap, but the jet lag rule enforcer (Jon) wouldn't let me so we hit the town to explore instead.

a room with a view...
...and a hallway.
After breakfast at our first of several famed Vienna cafes, we hit up St. Stephen's Cathedral, the Imperial Apartments of the Hapsburgs, and the state hall of the National Library. Somewhere in there was a stop at a sausage stand, which included our first mug of gluhwein (mulled wine). And then it was finally back to the hotel for a nap.

i miss the cafes.
the cathedral.

the library was very cool.
heaven on earth.
an elevator with a seat is exactly what you need after a long day of exploring. 
After our nap, it was time for....drumroll, please....our first Christmas markets of the trip. It's basically the whole reason we were on this trip, and they did not disappoint.

Here is a word on the Christmas markets, of which there will be many. They were magical. I was completely enchanted. The lights, the sounds, the smells....oh, the smells. It was everything I love about the holiday season wrapped up in one big package with a beautiful historic building as the backdrop. Because it was early in the season, we were ahead of the tourist rush so we got to enjoy the markets mostly with the locals. The markets are less for shopping and more for eating and drinking. This, I did not mind. There was plenty of shopping to be had elsewhere. We focused our time at the markets strolling with gluhwein, or even better, hot punsch, in hand and stopping whenever something looked too good not to eat. It was like a state fair meets Disneyland, but somehow even better.

giant block of butter. be still my heart.

my first experience with langos - fried dough with a splash of garlic butter. i could eat this every day.
the smaller markets were just as fun, less crowds, more character. 
real mugs - you paid a deposit for the mug, which you could collect upon returning the mug.
it was so much more fun than drinking out of paper cups.
your typical market booth.


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