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Travel | Vienna for Christmas
On our first evening in Vienna, we ventured through the Christmas markets Europe is so known for, showers of twinkling lights dangling over our heads. Holiday punch was offered in tiny, stocking-shaped mugs to accompany our bratwurst and crepes with Nutella. Holding court in one corner, a lady sang opera while on the opposite side of the square, a man played one of Mozart’s concertos on his violin.
We were in awe to say the least.
The composer’s fingerprints are all over this illustrious city—or perhaps it’s more accurate to say it left its mark on him. Our visit to St. Stephen’s Cathedral where Mozart wed his bride left us in a similar state of wonder as his music, given its many layers of theme and artistry.
Within, patches of jewel-tinted light bathe the gothic walls and ground thanks to the stained glass windows. A choir of youths were rehearsing their Christmas program, voices filling the rafters and dramatic archways. At its heart was a smaller podium where the priest conducts his pass, lined with frogs, lizards, and snakes along the railing to signify the fleeing of evil as he’d ascend the steps. And at four parts of the podium lie four faces, representing the stages of life. London lit a candle, and we said our goodbye.
Outside, strolling through the beautiful streets and clear air, we found the Imperial Palace with its brilliant blue dome and beyond, the Grand Hall of the Austrian National Library.
There, carved of wood and gilded in gold, was the greatest wonder of the day: row upon row of stunning leather bound books, complete with rolling ladders and a massive globe.
The first coffee house of Vienna opened in 1683, and though it's not the world's pioneer, it does mean the city has a rich and eclectic history surrounding this communal treat. We found Café Hawelka (founded by Leopold in 1939) to be one of our favorites, known in the city as a hangout for poets, writers, artists.
Outside Karlskirche (St. Charles' Church) we enjoyed the lights, and a full Christmas market from which we took a ferris wheel to get a view of the city. At the Sacher Hotel café, we sampled Sacher Torte for the first time—a dessert with a past, that sparks rivalry across Vienna as to who invented it and who does it best! Finally, a walk beneath endless sparkling lights rounded the evening off.
I believe it’s safe to say that Vienna, you’ve enchanted me.