, ,

One of the first things that you get introduced too…or hear about…in Europe are the Christmas Markets.  They run from late November through the Advent season and sometime into early January.  In some cities and towns, it might just be for one day….but in others, they are an everyday event.  People come from all over to experience the market…sometimes going to other countries, because the “goods” are cheaper than in their own country.   They can be anything from a few wooden stalls erected on a street or small square to the huge markets that  can boast over 280 different stalls filled with food, handmade baked goods, decorations, and more!

Since we have been busy traveling the past few week-ends, we have been able to experience the Christmas Markets first hand.  Our first experience was at Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna.  We arrived on a Friday afternoon to view the Palace, so having the market there was an added bonus.IMG_6872First we toured the Schoenbrunn Palace….where we found out a few interesting facts about the family that lived there.  Schoenbrunn Palace was the summer home of Emperor Francis I and Empress Maria Theresa.  Marie Antoinette was their youngest daughter.  Yes, the one that had her head cut off by guillotine during the French Revolution.  Her great niece, Marie Louise, was married to Napoleon Bonaparte…all in the name of a “political marriage match”.  But enough history…Exiting the Palace we got this view of the Christmas Market in the Palace courtyard.IMG_6889And this is David….gritting his teeth because I want to “shop” at the market.IMG_6884 After dragging him around the stalls where I ooohed and ahhhed over all the handmade items like these woollen angels (engels)IMG_6894….and these hand carved wooden bowls, spoons and other kitchen items…IMG_6948 and these cute little Santa gnomes…IMG_6944or these tiny Santas….IMG_6943or these ceramic houses….one of which might just be coming home in my suitcase!IMG_6911David soon realized that there was something for him!  For every “craft” booth we passed there were food ones too.  The huge pretzels were his favourite….IMG_6901 I think he might have drooled on the counter….we tried the chocolate covered one.IMG_6903But there were also booths with freshly roasting chestnuts, spiced potato wedges, cheeses of all kinds, sausages, fresh breads and pastries, their version of pizzas…IMG_6904 and these “scrambled pancakes” and dumplings filled with fruits and meats.  All cooked right in front of you!IMG_6893The darker it got…the more people there were.IMG_6922 We left about 4:30 or 5:00 p.m.  (yes, it gets dark early here!), deposited my treasures in our hotel and then went to the Museum District of Vienna where there was another market and it was definitely more crowded.IMG_6937 There were also different craft items too…so of course I had to look here too! How about an Merry Christ-moose Advent Candle holder?IMG_7587On Sunday before we left, did some more wandering around Vienna.  In just about every church square there was a Christmas Market.  Most of the market “stalls” are dark brown wooden sheds…these were a little different as you could actually walk in.IMG_7576and the crafts items were a little different too.  Lots of hats and jewellery.IMG_7577 IMG_7567And this is where we found an entire booth full of Polish pottery!  (handmade, but handmade in Poland!)  The prices here were also much more than in Poland.  It pays to know when a deal is NOT a deal!  I wish I had a close up of these lighted “domes” below.  They are a thin white ceramic domes that cover a lighted candle (or fake candle bulb) that are etched with different designs…like the manger scene, stars, ballet dancers, churches, etc.IMG_7518and who knew you could make purses out of zippers?IMG_7564and don’t forget the most important part…or why most people come…the Gluhwein or “mulled wine”….or for those not inclined for alcohol, there is also “Kinder-punch”.  Just about every market has their own “mug”.  Lots of people collect the mugs.  And at some markets, you can return the mug for a partial refund.IMG_7523

The best part of this market was when you walked around the back of these stalls and you see this!IMG_7562As we were leaving for the train station to go home, we found one more Christmas Market…it went all the way down the street. IMG_7585 And it happened to be next to this church…St. Stephen’s Cathedral… IMG_7368 IMG_7373 IMG_7376 IMG_7388\

Snuck that one in one you, didn’t I?  You didn’t seriously think I could do a post without showing you a church did you??  Just count yourself lucky, we visited 6 churches that day, but this is the biggest and best.  A fun trivia fact for you about this church: Composer  Ludwig van Beethoven discovered the totality of his deafness when he saw birds flying out of the bell tower as a result of the bells’ tolling but he could not hear the bells.

And just to leave your mouth watering….The goodies weren’t just in the Christmas markets…in case you didn’t get enough, you could grab one of these outside the entrance to the train station.  Yummy, melt in your mouth good!IMG_7364