Scottish Gaelic: Dreamer, Visionary

Month: November 2012

Christmas Markets Part 3 – Schloss Belvedere

Belvedere (or: beautiful view) Castle is “just” a museum most of the year and famous for its collection of Gustav Klimt paintings, until it hosts a charming Christmas market in late November/December.  The castle actually consists of two parts, the Upper and the Lower Belvedere. The christmas market is situated in front of the Upper (Oberes) Belvedere, facing a big fountain which has stars in it that light up at night. It is another one which is really more impressive because of the setting. The market itself if not too trashy-kitsh fortunately, and you can surely find nice hand-made decoration items or gifts there. Luckily it is also not too full compared to some of the other markets. At this point I need to mention that the book shop in the Lower (Unteres) Belvedere is stunning!

The mix of stalls in the market is rather broad – you can get a lot from South American drums to Venetian glass and bacon from Austria. There are also more Christmassy things to get there. My tip for this market is to get some “gebrannte Mandeln” (burnt almonds). Of course, they are not really burned, but covered in crispy caramel. You can also get other kinds of nuts – covered in chocolate, fresh and hot.

When you visit the market, make sure you have got enough time to walk the grounds as well. You’ll have a great view over the city center from the Upper Belvedere. When you walk to the Lower Belvedere, you should at least check out the bookshop (which I never get tired of mentioning) with the beautiful ceiling as well. It sells a lot of touristy things and Klimt-y items, but the shop itself is worth a visit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside.

Christmas Market Belvedere Castle: Website

More Photos at: Flickr


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Christmas Markets Part 2 – Schönbrunn Castle

One of the biggest selling points of this Christmas market is the castle. Being situated in front of one of Vienna’s most famous sights helps with its appeal. Especially at night, when the castle is alit and glowing, the market becomes more beautiful as well. Another attraction are the concerts and musical performances which are held every evening in the middle of the market. Schönbrunn Castle is stunning any day, but with the added sparkle of Christmas, it adds another level of shine to it.

The stalls and booths are beautiful and offer a wide range of foods, crafts and presents. But that’s where we come to the downside. It is extremely full and stuffed with tourists. Sometimes it is even hard to get close enough to have a thorough look, let alone buy something. There is always an enormous line on front of the Crêpes and Waffles booth, so be sure to avoid that or be prepared for a wait (may be worth it though!).

If you choose to go there in the evening, make sure to check out the musical performance of the night. Choirs and musicians fill the air with Christmas carols which are broadcast all over the courtyard so you won’t miss them.

You can get fantastic presents and Christmas decorations there, but make sure you go during the day. Use the evening for looking at the lights and don’t expect to get through the masses quickly. When you are at the market, you should take the opportunity for a walk through the castle park with fantastic views to the Gloriette on the hill or even a short visit to the Zoo.

The Christmas Market’s website: Weihnachtsmarkt Schönbrunn

More Photos at: Flickr

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Christmas Markets Part 1 – Rathausplatz, Vienna

Each Christmas, Vienna is full of Christmas markets. Usually I try to visit as many of them as I can and take plenty of photos. This year, I thought I’d make a series of blogposts out of it. I’ll post photos and reviews of the different markets in and around Vienna (and wherever else I might come across one).

First up, is maybe the biggest and most visited Christmas market in Vienna – the one in front of city hall. Traditionally it is one of the first markets to open somewhere mid to late November. Because of its central location just on the Ringstrasse, it is always rather full – unless you go before noon on a weekday. Even then there are always tourists flooding the market.

It is not the most traditional nor the most artsy and crafty of the markets but it doesn’t pretend to be. Many Viennese people come here after work for mulled wine or a bite to eat, but it’s not a great place to buy something special. Unless of course, something special is a blindingly glittery and sparkly ball for the Christmas tree. Don’t get me wrong – I’m sure there are nice things in-between there somewhere, it’s just hard to find.

What I personally like about it is the food. Pirker, my favourite gingerbread shop has a booth there, there is one where you can get enormously huge sweets, and one where you can buy soup in bread. Yes, seriously. Soup in bread. Look at the pictures and you’ll see… Finally, there is a booth full of bacon. Afterwards, a quick stop into the Café Landtmann on the other side of the Ringstrasse is in order – especially if your sugar intake is still low and/or you need a great coffee!

To sum it up – I can recommend it, if you’re not going in with the wrong expectations. Take it for what it is, enjoy the glitter there and then move on to one of the more crafty Christmas markets. Or the ones in cooler locations. Or both.

You can find the market’s official website HERE.

More Photos at: Flickr

And now on to the photos… (PS: you can click through them thanks to the gallery update! ;))

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