Monday, December 20, 2010

Vienna, Austria I

As already mentioned, we are taking a break this week from our Turkey posts in order to share snowy Vienna, Austria with you, in honor of Christmas.

Vienna was not in our original plans and we thought we were going to miss winter this year. Even though Christmas is my most beloved holiday, I was kind of excited to skip it one year and miss all the hectic shopping, traffic, and fuss by running away with my husband. But when everyone back home in Seattle was continually posting things online about winter and unusual amounts of snow and Christmas music and peppermint lattes and holiday parties, I was a little bummed that we were missing it all. Plans changed, as you already know.

When we first arrived in Vienna, the city was covered in a blanket of snow and the flakes still coming down. I was grinning from ear to ear. We decided on Vienna at the last minute, had never looked at a map, and had no place to stay. We were dragging our luggage around town on the snowy sidewalks, which usually gets me frustrated and exhausted, but I was in the clouds. I didn’t mind. The streets were strung with lights, the restaurants adorned with Christmas touches, the shop windows covered in snowflakes and ornaments. I felt like a kid in a candy shop. When I found out Vienna had a Christmas market, I could hardly keep it together. We ended up finding a comfortable place to stay with a kitchen, which is a major luxury when traveling for an extended period of time. After buying boots, gloves, (matching) hats, and gloves, we were set.

Vienna is a gorgeous city. Yuriy said it was his favorite thus far (I can’t decide). The city has a “ring street” that is lined with amazing architecture and statues left and right. Rows of trees and big open plazas felt very European. Vienna is home to a couple palaces and has a royal history. There are so many beautiful buildings, that after a while you don’t even know or care what they are… just walk and appreciate.

Vienna is a city of the arts. It’s long been known for its musical background—Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and Johann Strauss called it home. There were several cafes named after them and museums in honor of the composers. Several artists came from Vienna, the most famous being Klimt. We really liked the museum quarter in the center of the city, which is lined with art museums. Vienna has a rep for being a city for old, rich, snobby people and I found it hilarious how many people on the streets were decked out in luscious fur coats and hats—mostly elderly people. I was blown away with how nice everyone was dressed on the streets. It was a big contrast from the smaller cities we were used to in Turkey, Greece, and Croatia (our last three countries).  The city is famous for the traditional Viennese cafe, no nightlife, and early risers. We noticed that the cold didn't keep anyone inside. When it snows even a tad back home, the city shuts down. Here, we noticed there were a ton of women walking with baby strollers-- in the snow! It was so pleasant to see so many kids in the city. In the evening, crowds of people hung out in the cold, sipping hot mulled wine. Horse drawn carriages trotting down the snowy cobblestone streets beside beautiful old churches seriously looked like Christmas greeting cards. The city is expensive, but very clean and well taken care of. It really did feel like a high-end city.

We squeezed in a lot during our 3 day stay in Vienna—a ton of sightseeing, a visit to the historical Schönbrunn Palace, a ballet date night, a trip to MUMOK art museum, and several trips to the delightful Christmas markets. Our upcoming posts will cover several of these more in depth, but I think I'm most excited about our Vienna winter fashion post.

- Julia

[graphics: The Graphics Fairy, font: DaFont]