Vienna's other Christmas marketsDecember 22, 2016 in Austria
Vienna has 16 Christmas markets in total, one had closed the day we arrived so we didn't see that but we wanted to immerse ouselved in the Christmas experience and explore as many of the others as possible. Armed with the map of the U-Bahn network and an information leaflet telling us where the markets were we visited 4 markets that evening. The first was in a pedestrianised side street and had a hippy feel with lots of street food, knitted garments and wooden decorations, toys and instruments. The second was in the Museums Quarter in a large square surrounded by imposing stone buildings. Instead of huts or stalls, it had polytunnels selling drinks and food. It felt quite 'studenty' but not very Christmassy, it somehow exuded a 'too cool for Christmas' vibe and we didn't stay long.
Next, the Christmas Village was distinctive for where it was, in Maria-Theresien Platz sandwiched between two incredible palaces built to mirror each other over the square. One had changing light images projected on to its walls, with images of baubles and holly.
The final market of the evening took us through the arches of Hoffburg Palace, past its massive white stone statues of wrestling men, under an arched dome with a beautifully painted ceiling and out into the 'posh' part of town. The market reflected the white stone buildings with its white wooden huts lit by falls of fairy lights. Pairs of horses stood patiently in front of their plush carriages ready to whisk those with more money than us to burn on a tour of the city. The surrounding streets all had different hanging lights down their centres, some with candles, others with giant spheres or chandeliers. Everywhere we looked were designer names; Dior, Gucci, Louis Vitton, Cartier and too many others to remember. What we will remember however are the public toilets! They cost 50c but the assistant opened and closed the frosted glass sliding door to the large vintage tiled cubicle with porcelain toilet and basin with dark wood and gold furniture. They were old but in immaculate condition and they may well be the best public toilets we ever visit!
Many markets closed on the 23rd so we had a double trip in the next day. The morning saw us perusing the Old Viennese Christmas market that had some lovely handmade decorations, including some made out of steel and of straw together with food stalls selling vegetables, meat and fish. Vicky treated herself to an apple and fig slice with shortcrust pastry - yummy!
Because the cold was beginning to take its toll, we warmed up with some beef goulash in a 1950s style cafe on the way to Belvedere Palace. The palace was a little way outside the city centre and had a small market in its extensive grounds. We don't recall seeing a building with so many statues on it and have never known a city with so many palaces!
After a rest and some time spent back at the van with Poppy, we returned in the dark to find 3 more markets. We had been in two minds over whether to do this evening visit because we thought we may well have seen all there was to to be sold on the stalls we'd seen already. We were to be proved wrong at the Art Advent market on Karlszplatz! The beautifully lit Karlz Kirche with its domed roof rose above strings of warm white lights and the traditional wooden huts that were arranged around a central area that had been transformed into a petting zoo! There were tons of original items on the stalls, with the artists themselves selling their creations. We'd have been shocked if the next two markets (a small collection of food stalls and a lackluster traditional market at the university) had been anywhere near as interesting. However we did get to watch a game of curling at the latter. Tired but very happy, we returned to the van after a full but fun day.Read more