Vienna – strudel, chocolate… oh and a two-year old
Vienna – a beautiful city full of history, culture and best of all, strudel. We ventured over for a long weekend having been handed a couple of extra days off by the lovely Emirati Government. We took our little family along with Poppy C, much loved and revered by both Miss Sparky and young Chubs.
The highs were amazing, the lows extremely challenging! But overall, Vienna is definitely a place we’d recommend for a short break. We even snuck in a day in beautiful Salzburg, all the while humming tunes from the Sound of Music, nibbling lebkuchen and sipping hot chocolate – my thighs have not yet recovered from this little sojourn let me tell you!
So anyway, I’ve thought long and hard and summarised a couple of key Vienna highs and lows for us.
Vienna Highs: 1. Our Apartment
OK, so you know we’ve lived in Dubai for a while.
It’s bloody hot.
Our bodies have acclimatised and we can now officially be regarded as ‘Dubai wussy’.
So what does this mean when you walk out of the warm, toasty airport in Vienna to hit the minus zero degree temps? Instant whinging. And it didn’t stop the whole trip – “I’m cold; my feet are frozen; I can’t feel my face; My toe just snapped off with frostbite; It’s official – my eyeballs are frozen”. And that was just my whinging.
Poor lovely hubby (who seems impenetrable to the cold) was surrounded by stereo whinging from all of us. Except the Chubs whom I think was so freaked out that he had icicles hanging off his nose, he thought it was safer to just sit and suck his finger while being wrapped in layers of blankets.
The only saviour was our amazing apartment. We had a beautiful penthouse on the edge of the city, walking distance to everywhere. The outside wasn’t much. But inside was all magic. Not the decor, although that was lovely. And not the views, although they were fabulous as well with church spires and Viennese rooftops.
The magic part was the floor. The entire apartment had in-floor heating. I am officially in love!
It was so damn hard to go out every morning. Inevitably when were getting ready, we’d be cruising around the apartment in our t-shirts and shorts talking about what a lovely day it was and where we might walk to – such is the nature of in-floor heating.
It lulls you into a false sense of security to the point that there would almost be tears when we’d finally walk outside sans hats and gloves. There would be a brief flurry of swearing as we all scrambled to layer up before an extremity actually froze off. We were tricked every time into thinking “it doesn’t look that cold out there”…
And after tough days trudging the streets looking for historical landmarks and stopping regularly for coffees and cakes, it was with such immense joy every afternoon that we would stumble back in the dark (at 4pm) to be greeted by our toasty floors and a cup of tea.
Vienna Highs: 2. The Salzburg Christmas Market
Vienna has a number of Christmas markets. They are all nice enough. We somehow kept getting to them during the day when there weren’t many people around, so we were a little disappointed. They didn’t look like the busy, bustling fairyland we had seen on our Google searches.
Salzburg was worth the trip – just for the Christmas market.
The Old Town of Salzburg is really beautiful full of cobbled streets, lovely little shop fronts and secret laneways with hidden treasures of chocolates and artwork.
But the very best part is the Christmas markets. These markets are weaved throughout the streets and climax in the main square which is literally heaving with people. Everyone has a lovely holiday buzz and is merrily sipping gluhwein, schnapps and gorging on various desserts, donuts and biscuits. All to the tune of non-offensive, choir-based Christmas carols. We though we’d died and gone to Christmas heaven. I was so full on the way back to our little bus, you could have gotten an Oompa Loompa to roll me back like Violet Beauregarde…
Vienna Low: The tired two-year old
Not the best start
Day one we decided we’d get out and explore the city…. a somewhat floored decision given the forecast was for -1 degree and a wind-chill factor of up to -15 degrees.
Blissfully unaware, we left our toasty apartment to be greeted by a howling gale, ice flurries and even the odd rain shower. My eyelashes actually froze and there were moments where I couldn’t talk as my lips just gave up trying to move.
We soldiered on though and headed to the centre of town. The Chubs was in the pram and well rugged up. I think after a couple of hours though, he was well and truly over it. He was too cold and/or uncomfortable to nap and he’d woken up at the crack of dawn. The universe was conspiring to make this an unforgettable morning – and not in a good way.
the damn car…
After spotting a toy car in a shop window, he had apparently reached his threshold. I’m sure he thought “damn these people. They’re not getting away with schlepping me around this stupid town in this temperature without buying that car!” From that second on, the only words that came out of his mouth for the rest of the morning were “I want the car””I want the car””I want the car””I want the car””I want the car”
We got to the beautiful St Stephens Cathedral in the centre of Vienna, which is surrounded by a Christmas market and beautiful shops and restaurants.
We got into the vestibule of the church and I tried to reason with the young banshee attached to my leg still screaming “I want the car”.
I thought we’d reached an agreement and I entered the tranquil, silent church filled with praying Viennese.
This is perhaps a good point to mention that Austrians can be ever so slightly uptight. They like order and organisation and don’t really have a lot of tolerance. One guide-book I read even said that they prefer children to be not seen and not heard in public.
So on this particular day, i think every uptight Austrian had decided to go to Church in town. And let me tell you, this damn child was both seen and convincingly heard.
We stepped foot in the Church amid throngs of visitors and immediately, the Church three blocks down the road could have heard the wail of “I WANT THE CAR!”
I was immediately shooshed, scowled at, told to be quiet and pushed by the throngs. However, all I could do was move at the pace of the group and try to hold a gloved hand over the snotty, screaming 2-year old mouth (which has sharp teeth now I might add).
We finally got outside and I plonked him down in a corner, unable to deal with the situation anymore. I walked a few paces without my beannie or gloves just to try and let off some steam. I turned to see this forlorn little snot covered being squatting on the icy ground. His beannie had half fallen off. He had one glove missing as he sobbed and rocked wailing “my car… my car… my car…”
So pathetic. A definite low. Miss Sparky stumbles out of the church some minutes later to offer some words of wisdom – “why don’t you just buy him the car mum?”
Things started to improve after our immense low though, and we had a brilliant trip – ate great food, did some good shopping and drank nice wine. Our feet were toasty more often than they were not and we saw some stunning countryside and fine imperial architecture.
Even when I asked Miss Sparky to recount her highlight, I got a response similar to “hot chocolate and strudel”. Like mother like daughter? We are easily pleased on tour 🙂
So, Frohliche Weihnachten to all and to all a good night