We left Prague on Christmas Eve morning, and took a train to Vienna. It was a bit of a rough day for me, with not getting to see my family, and having a vicious cold (train ride + bad cold = not the most fun you can have). But, we were in a beautiful place, and I was with Ken. So, in retrospect, maybe I should've been a little less pissy than I was that day...sorry Ken!
We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in Vienna, walking around, taking pics, and dining at any place that was: a. open, and b. non-smoking. Not an easy feat during the holidays in this city!
Side note: One thing I find strange about the English language is that, somewhere along the way, someone decided they couldn't pronounce the names of various European cities and countries, and decided to change perfectly easy-to-pronounce names to something else. Such is the case with Wien/Vienna. In doing this, they missed out on the glorious fun that can be had when the word Wiener is written on various signs in a city. And when you're taking the Wiener Linien (subway) all weekend. (FYI: Wiener = Viennese in English.)
Now for some Wiener photos...
Rathaus (City Hall)
Schönbrunn Palace (open on Christmas, and with a Christmas market!).
Amazing apple donuts at the Christmas market.
The Gloriette in the gardens at Schönbrunn Palace (which are probably really beautiful when there are leaves on the trees, and flowers - still nice, regardless).
Close-up of the Gloriette.
We also attended an orchestra/ballet/opera performance at the Orangerie here on Christmas night, and had a delicious dinner at an Indian restaurant called Nam Nam on our way to the show. So, it was a little different than our usual Christmas celebrations, but a good one. We also found an English-speaking church on Christmas morning, and it was cool to see the diverse group of people in one place due to a common language.
And a little more of the Wiener experience (no, it doesn't get old)...
Ken's new friend.
Can't remember the specific building here...
Athena and the Parliament building.
On Christmas Eve, we walked the streets of Vienna for quite awhile before finding an open restaurant that either wasn't ridiculous expensive, or full of people puffing away on their cigs. We finally landed at a random ice cream shop/cafe, and they had a menu featuring tons of way-too-huge-for-two-people ice cream creations. Being Christmas Eve, we decided to go big with the most ridiculous of the creations, named the Kaiser Franz. The menu presented the option to add some Mozart Symphony liqueur to the top, which we tried to order, but they were out of the liqueur. I'd say we still did alright without it.
The day after Christmas, we headed to a town called Steyr to visit a friend we met in Oslo. I met Katrin in Norwegian class just a few weeks after moving to Oslo. Our class was awesome, and everyone wanted to hang out, since we were all new in town. Katrin recently moved back to her home in Austria to attend nursing school, so I definitely wanted to see her while we were nearby. She picked us up at the train station and spent the day showing us around her lovely hometown. It was lovely, and so great to see her. And her uncle filled Ken up with Austrian beer, to Ken's delight. Thanks for a fun day, Katrin!
Visiting the Christkindl church in Steyr. The Christkindl is the Christmas gift-bringer to children in Austria. There's a post office here where children all over Austria send letters during Christmas.
The palace in Steyr.
We were very excited to see this awesome Alpine ibex (steinbock) roaming the walls of the palace garden. He made quite the impressive leap onto this wall like it was nothing.
Posing for the camera.
Katrin and I with pretty Steyr in the background.
The cleanest river I've ever seen running through a city.
Apparently, the river floods the town every so often. This chart tracks the water levels of the floods.
More cool buildings.
Love this one.
And the last one before it got too dark.
We had a nice Austrian dinner and hopped on the train to Salzburg at the end of the evening. Thanks again for showing us around, Katrin!
We may be nerds, but I'd say finding our new ibex friend was probably the Moment of Zen for both of us. He was adorable. Also, seeing Katrin was lovely! And the Wiener apple donuts were pretty fantastic.