Christmastime in Austria – Vienna Edition

As I mentioned in my last blog post, my husband and I spent the Christmas season in Austria this year.

Our itinerary: Vienna, Salzburg, Innsbruck, Seefeld, & Zurich for New Year’s

{oh and London for a tiny tiny stopover, just long enough for afternoon tea!}

As expected, Christmastime in Austria is so ridiculously cute, it’s too much for one to handle. Christmas markets (the most delicious food + mulled wine = perfection), in the most idyllic settings imaginable. Words failed me. Continually. And as you may have noticed, that doesn’t happen very often. The word “surreal” has never received so much overuse as it did during our 10-day trip.

That being said, I think the best way to share this trip is through pictures.

I’ll start with Vienna. Ok, fine, I’ll say a few quick words (see, I can’t resist trying…).

I didn’t expect its grandeur to rival that of Paris, or Madrid, or London. Those Habsburgs knew how to do it up, let me tell ya. As you gaze across the grand plazas, and the horse & buggies trot past you, you can truly imagine it as the center of the Holy Roman Empire. The city is impossibly beautiful, and incredibly clean. Actually, all of Austria seems to fit that description.

Oh, and Mozart? Yeah he’s still a big deal.

Some of our most memorable experiences in Vienna:

  • the Christmas markets on Christmas Eve
  • sipping champagne in a Viennese drawing room where Mozart may or may not have played
  • a Christmas Eve church service that ended in candlelight caroling in a Viennese courtyard
  • strolling around the Hofburg Palace on Christmas Eve
  • a Christmas morning run along the Danube River
  • Christmas Day at the Christmas markets at Schonbrunn Palace

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Next up: Salzburg!

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Warning: This Post Isn’t Funny. But It’s Real. And It’s About Thanksgiving.

Preface: I realize what an incredibly blessed person I am to be able to write this post. My heart is heavy for those who are hungry around the world, and in my own city, who are never able to experience a meal like the one I am describing.  

I have always been a dedicated Thanksgiving advocate. Let’s face it – Thanksgiving is sadly overlooked in the shadow of Christmas.

Don’t get me wrong – I love Christmas. Probably more than your average bear. But I believe each holiday deserves its moment in the sun.

I formed these beliefs at a very young age. As a child, I made construction paper hand turkeys and cornucopias like it was my job, and refused to listen to Christmas music until the day after Thanksgiving.

Yes, I have always taken a stand for “holiday rights.” But I am not just a proponent of Thanksgiving because it is the underdog holiday. I’m a supporter because Thanksgiving demands that we spend a day with our loved ones – where the only things to do are eat, drink, and be thankful. What other holiday makes us do that? Even as a child, who loved getting Christmas presents and wasn’t quite ready to denounce consumerism, I appreciated the beauty and simplicity of the Thanksgiving moment.

And now, as an obsessive foodie and amateur chef who relishes cooking for others, Thanksgiving represents the day I would choose every time to represent happiness. An entire day where the kitchen is the star, as the faces that I love so dearly wander in and out of that kitchen throughout the day, taking turns cooking, filling their wine glasses, stealing tasty morsels, and sharing stories with so much laughter. The air grows thick with anticipation over the fruits of our shared labor! What a feeling of accomplishment and camaraderie  when we all finally sit down to the table and marvel at our culinary skills.

As I grew up, every single Thanksgiving was an exact replica of the year before – in the best possible way. We would eat our first Thanksgiving dinner of the day at my Grandma’s house, around 1:00 or 2:00. Then we would head to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house for the second installment of the Thanksgiving feast. Forget about “pacing yourself” – Thanksgiving represented the Olympic Games for all of the phenomenal cooks in our family.

Now, Thanksgiving looks different every year. We’ve grown up, we’ve gone to college, we’ve moved to different cities, we’ve gotten married. My beloved grandmother has gone to heaven.

Change can be difficult, especially when you come from a family of such deep traditions. But haven’t these changes illustrated the poignant meaning of Thanksgiving itself? Because while the stuffing is heavenly (my grandma’s legacy will always live on in my house through that recipe), Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for those beloved faces that I see gathered around that table.  Because they are there. And so am I.

Next post: I’ll share some of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes.

To lighten the mood:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/23/thanksgiving-quotes-funny_n_1110671.html#s494598&title=Jim_Gaffigan

Jim Gaffigan's Thanksgiving