Captivated by Vienna Light

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Vienna and Christmas are two things that without a shadow of a doubt belong together, so if someone feels that you are not quite in a right Christmas mood yet, I really suggest flying over, even for a short city break. I was happy to visit this one of my most beloved cities again this December and it was every bit as lovely as I had remembered it.

The regal city in its former imperial glory is truly magnificent. When for most of the year, Vienna is taken over by music, then for the special holiday season, I would say, it’s taken over by light. Its main boulevards Graben and Kärntner Strasse, as well as all other bigger and smaller streets, are decorated majestically with traditional red and white Christmas lights, some of them in the shape of chandeliers. I really felt that I needed that bright light to fight the darkness and greyness that we had had in Tallinn lately. And those lovely decorated windows, from J. & L.Lobmeyr to eversparkling Swarovsky!

And then, of course, there are the fairytalish traditional Christmas markets, selling everything from local food specialties from different Austrian regions to handmade Christmas decorations. Whenever you feel like it, you can stop for a little warming glühwein and traditional bratwurst in one of those little wooden market houses. There are many Christmas markets in Vienna, but I found to be the most beautiful the main one next to the Town Hall and the one in Am Hof square. However, Vienna is so beautiful to have a walk, so it’s highly recommended to visit also those next to the Stephans cathedral and in front of the Hofburg palace.

When already talking about the places of art and culture, Vienna is no short of these. Albertina art museum had currently a collection of Monet among other renowned artists, Hofburg palace and Sisi museum offer wonderful visits to the city’s imperial past and the Stephans (St. Stephen’s) cathedral is not only admirable because of its architecture, but is also a heartwarming place to light a candle with a good wish to your loved ones, even if someone is not deeply religious. I’m sure everyone knows the story of Elisabeth and Franz Joseph, but in Vienna you kind of can’t be left untouched by this beautiful story of courage and love and some melancholy, turned into a legend also by its sad ending.

Vienna and its cafes, oh la la! At least the historical Café Central, Demel and Sacher Café are worth a visit, though their pastry and cake shelves are really too much for the figure and too pleasing to one’s eyes. The red velvet and golden creamy atmosphere of those cafés is something that unmistakably goes together with Vienna.

As for the food in general, I loved the traditional simple beisels with their homely menu, including of course the famous Wiener schnitzel, goulash soup and sausages, pancakes in Viennese style or apple strudel. For a more sophisticated dining in style, one could pay a visit to Cantinetta Antinori, where amongst other little guilty pleasures the homemade fettuccine al tartufo bianco (fettuccine pasta with the white truffle) is a real treat. Other than that, a compulsory destination for all food lovers is of course the famous Vienna Naschmarkt, the 1,5 kilometers of which are all covered with different food counters, kiosks and little restaurants. Anything from traditional Austrian cuisine to Middle-East to seafood is on offer, not to mention the vast variety of spices one could buy. I just couldn’t go past saffron, for example, a real foodies heaven.

Auf Wiedersehen, Vienna, I hope it’s going to be soon!

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