Here’s part 2 of 2 of my Christmas Markets of Central Europe tour through Intrepid Travel.
Last we left off, I left Salzburg Austria to Vienna Austria via the train. First time being on a double decker train.
Vienna is a very rich, grand and opulent city. I’ve never seen a city like this in my travels. I’ve been told it’s similar to Paris, but I haven’t been. It blows my mind how giant these old buildings are from hundreds of years ago.
Vienna is known for classical music, the opera, famous composers such as Strauss, Habsburg emperors and don’t forget the fine food, wine and coffee.
Enjoying an evening gluhwein (mulled wine) with my tour group. Really nice group to travel with. You really roll the dice with that, cause I’ve been with some shitty groups (that could be it’s own blog). So it’s much more fun when you have a good group, really adds to the experience!
We stayed at a very interesting hotel. The staff is mostly made up of immigrants and refugees. For many refugees, there’s many barriers to gaining employment, so this hotel is trying to be a solution to that. Many different people, languages and cultural backgrounds under one roof. Very unique place. It’s a converted old folks home that was abandoned and now made into a hotel. Each room is different and designed by the local design school. Most of the furniture is recycled and repurposed. Close to the metro (subway), so very accessible to the main parts of the city! Click on the link below to read more.
Lots of horse drawn carriages around the city.
And how they clean up after the horses (Press play).
If you ever wondered if an escalator can work in the rain….it does.
The giant Ferris wheel, found in Prater amusement park. It was erected in 1897 and has survived wars. This was close by our hotel as well as a main metro stop. We went on it during the day to see beautiful views of the city. The ride is about 15 mins around.
Very busy on a Friday night. (Press play).
Cool outdoor skating rink in one of the Christmas markets. Normally you see the standard oval open rink, this one had tracks going in all different directions. I didn’t go on it since I haven’t skated since 1995, but it definitely piqued my interest! If you wipe out, the side is right there if you need it to get yourself up!
Went to the Sigmund Freud Museum. Beautiful area it’s in, but save yourself the money because the museum sucked. It’s his old house with some of his old items and pictures. Not much to it, not much information otherwise. Just a random mix of stuff with little info. But apparently they are revamping it in 2020. Here’s hoping it’s better! 🤞
Austria is home to the invention of the snow globe!
We used the metro (subway) to get around Vienna. Don’t be intimidated to use the metro in these big cities. They are often easy to figure out and people are usually helpful. And it’s really cost effective. We had a 48 hour pass, once you validate it, ride to your heart’s content!
Schönbrunn Summer Palace. This was the home to the Habsburg rulers. Very much a tourist hotspot. You can tour the palace and the gardens. We just did the grounds. Very big space. It must be beautiful in the summer with all the flowers in bloom.
I gave him some change, and he came to life! (Press play).
There’s a Christmas Market on the grounds, so I had to get a mango punsch. It’s a warm drink with mango, spices and rum.
mmmm spätzel! It’s a soft egg noodle. Then some are mixed with different stuff like cheese, tomatoes, onions, leeks etc. It reminds me of a really good Mac and cheese, but lighter.
We found this free concert at a cathedral. It was different international choir groups. Most was classical style Christmas carols which is common for this area. Then a gospel Air Force choir from The States brought down the house. So much talent! (press play).
Welcome to Budapest! Home to paprika, goulash, composer Franz Liszt and ruin bars! We arrived by train from Vienna. I only got a day here, definitely a city I would have loved to spend more time in. It’s very eccentric!
Home of the invention of the Rubik’s cube, invented by Erno Rubik.
Say goodbye to the Euro which both Germany and Austria use.
Say hello to the Forint! Something I should mention is about tipping in Germany, Austria and Hungary. It’s not expected, but it’s appreciated. And nothing over 10%. People were always super appreciative when I tipped, unlike Canada where tipping is out of control and it seems like whatever you give is never enough. So this was such a nice change of pace!
Paprika is really big in these parts. Lots of different kinds, hot, sweet etc. It’s even a popular chip flavour.
Chicken and spätzel with a paprika sauce. It was really good.
Cured meats are a big food here as well. But don’t bother trying to bring any back home into Canada, we got ours tossed at the Calgary airport. All overseas meat is forbidden. We thought because it was cured it would be fine. Nope. We declared it so it wasn’t a big deal, just were told they had to dispose of it. Then we were on our way.
This synagogue is the 3 rd biggest in the world behind Israel and New York. And the biggest one in Europe. As we all know, the Jewish population was decimated in the Second World War by the Nazi regime. The area is in the Jewish quarter of the city which still stands. Not a large population in these countries, but Jewish people are slowly coming back.
This lit up little monument shows the border of the Jewish quarter back in WW2. The Hungarian government refused for many years to send their Jewish citizens to concentration camps. The pressure from the nazi party kept mounting, that a couple months toward the end of the war they caved. They used the Jewish quarter to first in prison them before sending them to concentration camps.
Lots of different kinds of markets everywhere. Not just Christmas ones.
If you are a type of collector, these markets may be for you. It’s very common for people to go to estate sales, then sell the items at these markets. So you could find some really cool and interesting stuff. Here are some legit war medals. There was also a table of Soviet military fur hats and gas masks.
Ruin bars are all over the city and very unique to Budapest. Basically they convert an abandoned property or courtyard into a bar. The decor is very eclectic as you can see. Budapest is known for these bars.
Here’s another ruin bar that also had a market going on it that was all dog themed. So there were people in there having some drinks, while other people were shopping for stuff with their dogs.
Hungary has many lakes and rivers, so fish such as carp is a staple. We did an afternoon tour called Bites and Sights with Urban Adventures. So we got a chance to try different Hungarian cuisine as well see some sights of the city! This was a fish place we went to.
Every restaurant and bar we went into were so creatively done. This restaurant looks like someone’s house.
Just thought this was cute!
Of course there’s Christmas Markets!
You can go on the big Ferris wheel. The line up was crazy long, so we didn’t go on.
Chimney cakes are all the rage. This is the city and booth to buy it. It’s like a heated breaded pastry that’s rolled in cinnamon and sugar. It’s good, worth getting in line for, but definitely enough to share!
A Light and music show on the church. (press play).
Well, I’m back home. I found this cute rolling pin in a market in Vienna, trying it out. (press play).
Overall I enjoyed this short tour. I love travelling in December, there’s just something about it. I also love Christmas, so it’s fun to see how other countries celebrate. Just adds something special.
Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and all the best in 2019. Thanks for following, see you on my next adventure!