14th & 15th - Vienna
After a morning stroll around Angel we headed out to Heathrow and jumped on the plane. This turned out to be quite a funny flight as when we boarded the flight we were told that our allocated seats were not available. Then after the whole plane being delayed for 30mins, while we waited in the cabin steward area, we were given new seats and compensated with a couple of bottles of Champagne. On arrival into Vienna we had a long awaited re-union with my parents, before catching up on all the antics of the last 6 months over a bottle of wine and some fine Austrian cuisine.
We had breakfast in Vienna before exploring the city by tram. Unfortunately we jumped on the wrong tram which took us out of the city. However it turned out to be lucky as we ended up at a destination we were unsure how to get to. The Hundertwasser Village is a village built by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, who believed that the ground should not be flat, as the brain needs stimulation and that windows should not all look the same.It was quite a funky little village as one can imagine with this ideology of architecture. We then jumped on a tram in the right direction, which does a loop of the old city where the walls used to be and takes in many of the major highlights, including the oldest church, stock exchange, parliament, opera house and many of the famous statues around the city. We headed for some lunch to the Sacher Café, famous for its Sacher torte, so we all grabbed a hot chocolate and an apple strudel (bizarre I know!). We then walked the main streets of Vienna checking out some new warm clothes and picked up some curry-wurst. We then took a walk around the site of the old city walls and found the statue of Mozart and whole lot of Christmas markets! We grabbed a cup of gluhwein (mmm...) and hit the markets. All the Christmas decorations you can think of, plus every winter food possible… this truly is how Christmas should be!
16th, 17th & 18th - Slazburg
We had a great scenic, couple of hour ride through to Slazburg. We discovered a bit of old town in the afternoon before finding the famous Salzburg Christmas markets. So we grabbed ourselves a glass of gluhwein and hit the stalls. An amazing setting in the forecourt of the church, sun setting and snow falling, quite amazing despite the -8 degrees.
One of Salzburg's claims to fame is that The Sound of Music was filmed there, so I was dragged along by Meeks to The Sound of Music tour. It actually turned out to be a great day, as we saw all the picture postcard Austrian scenery whilst it was snowing all around us. We obviously also saw the main filming locations. In the afternoon we headed to a ski shop and picked up some last minute accessories, oh and I bought a pair of ski boots. We then caught a taxi out to Hellbrunn castle for its Christmas markets, we grabbed a glass of gluhwein and checked out the stalls. It was one of the most picturesque markets so far, with it set in the grounds and forecourt of the castle, lights, heaps of Christmas trees and great stalls. After a belly full of gluhwein we headed out to the Stadtkrug Hotel and had the best schnitzel of my life!
We spent our last day in Salzburg visiting one of its major tourist attractions, the Hohensalzburg Castle. An amazing old fortress perched on the hill overlooking the whole town. We spent the afternoon wandering through a few more Christmas markets and even found the locals Christmas market. We went back to the same restaurant as the night before for dinner as the schnitzel was sooo good.
19th - 25th December - St. Anton & a White Christmas!
We had a picturesque train trip from Slazburg to St. Anton am Alberg for our week of snow skiing. We spent the afternoon relaxing with a glass of wine and crackers in our lodge on the snow. We spent the following 6 days skiing, yes even on Christmas day. The runs were amazing with some requiring several breaks down them due to the length and we all did all levels of runs, blue, red and black. The best stack of the week goes to Meeks with an amazing face-plant into pure powder (we could only see her boots). Our favourite restaurant was definitely the cozy little tavern in St. Christoph (not just because of the namesake). We also had amazing night out to a fondue restaurant, with amazing amount of food far too much for the four of us, and the best steak we have had so far on this trip. We also made a big effort to eat all the special delicacies including, germknodel mit vanillesosse und Mon, Kaiserschmarren, TirolerGrostchtl, Wiener Schnitzel, Apfelstrudel and Almoudler.We were all ready to spend at least another week in St. Anton but unfortunately our time had to come to an end.
Our last day before leaving was Christmas day and we all enjoyed our first white Christmas. Even in the week leading up it, you could feel the Christmas vibe and I now totally understand why it is definitely meant to be celebrated in the cold and snow, all the traditions make sense!