Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Vienna Waits For You

We are standing in front of St. Stephens Cathedral where we started our journey together nearly 32 years ago.  Wow, we have grown older and Vienna seems younger.  My memories of this historic city are vivid and Vienna is still beautiful - from the Cathedral to the Staatsoper, the incredible Kunts-Historiche Museum, Imperial Palace, Rathaus and our old Gasthous Restaurant (where we would Swine & Dine and laugh for hours), Vienna holds a special place in our lives.

After 17 days of travel and shorter stays, (see earlier posts) it is nice to begin to do what our goal is, to spend 2 months in a location and really get to appreciate the city/area and all it has to offer, from a tourist as well as the local's point of view.

Vienna has a youthfulness to it now. There is a reason it is listed as a top city for the younger set,  Pensioners of the 1980's in their green coats and hats and lederhosen have passed on. In 1982 the average age was in the early 60's and taxes to pay for the seniors were hurting the working class. Now so many people are in their 20's & 30's, there is a thriving economy with a considerable increase in the English speaking population. Although all the new and modern stores and clothes make Vienna seem like any other metropolitan city, the residents still cherish the traditions of the city's earlier history (even the new buildings retain the classical architecture).  In talking with transplants, they say the cost of living is less than other cities (you don't need a car as the tram-bus-underground system is excellent) and the cultural and social life is happening. For single young people or those starting families, the mixture of new technology/culture and older traditions gives the city a more rounded lifestyle.

We are looking forward to experiencing all the holiday, food, music and Austrian traditions the next 2 months. We will do our best to eat, drink and be as Merry as we can possibly be.

Rathaus -  The City Hall

Yes Richard - keep reminding everyone we are old.  We haven't been married that long have we??  It seems like just a few years ago and being back in Vienna seems like yesterday..."Our love is here to stay...."

We may have missed Thanksgiving in the States, but we did arrive in Vienna on St. Martin's Day - where it is a custom to eat roast goose and bread dumplings all month long.  (Legend has it that St Martin was a successful travelling preacher that was chosen to be a bishop,  it was a job he didn't want so when the emissaries came to get him he hid in a goose pen, where he was betrayed by the cackling of the geese - of course he became the bishop).  So geese are eaten each year in his memory.

The Christmas Holiday season in Vienna officially started on November 16th. (there is no political correctness here)  It seemed the entire city was gathered at the City Hall - "Rathaus", which is where the kickoff to the season began.  Some say the first Market Fairs date back to the Middle Ages, and were probably the precursor to what is known today as the "Christkindlmarkt" - where small booths of traditional artisan treasures, (yes tacky stuff too) are set up around the city and the aromas of Maroni (roasted chestnuts), fried potato cakes called Kartoffelpuffer, and Waffles fill the air - and of course our favorite the warm Punche full of rum and the Gluhwein!

While most of the US was concerned about Black Friday and retail madness - Viennese were all crowded outside in the cold and bundled close together with their mugs of mulled wine spreading good cheer to each other!

A Market in the Freyung area of Vienna.  Always lines to keep your mulled wine mug full.

Frohe Weihnachten!