January 6, 2010
Being an 'orphan' in another country at Christmas often means that you have to make a concerted effort to be anywhere but stuck at home on your own, so this time we headed off to lovely Vienna with some friends. (Last year it was New York – read about it here.) Sadly the trip was blighted by sickness and angsting over lost luggage, but we did make the most of the famous Christmas markets which are dotted around the city.
The best markets were at Schonbrunn Palace, which we visited on Christmas Day. There were oodles of Christmas baubles and decorations on offer, as well as traditional Austrian and German Christmas crafts.
Admittedly some of it strayed towards naff territory, but some of it was truly lovely, like straw dolls, hand-carved wooden nativity sets and intricately iced gingerbread.
And the food. Oh lordy. We indulged in all the festive treats on offer, from raclette on bread and pretzels to twisted fried potato crisps and chopped up apple pancake, all washed down with copious mugs of warm gluhwein as we huddled around a table in the biting cold.
Afterwards we headed out of the cold and took a tour around the palace itself, which is rather like a mini Versailles with gilt furniture and flocked wallpaper. Definitely worth a visit.
There were more culinary adventures to be had at the Sacher Hotel, which is home to the legendary Sacher torte. The cafe is quite sumptous and rather conveniently located opposite the Albertina gallery, so the rich chocolate cake provides the perfect antidote to gallery fatigue.
And if you're after a truly excellent Wiener schnitzel, you might like to head to the very cosy Figlmuller restaurant, where the super-thin portions arrive bigger than your dinner plate, and accompanied by a traditional potato salad with lamb's lettuce.
p.s. We didn't do it this time around, but I also thoroughly recommend a visit to the the wonderful Hundertwasser Museum – and don't miss his wonky apartments up the road.