It is summer and as everyone else, I am on holiday as well. If I have to be honest I haven’t stopped traveling for the past two months. First it was France and now I am in beautiful Bulgaria. It is true what they say that it is heaven on earth here in the Balkans – the beauty and the interesting things to see and do are endless.
In the previous blog post I talked about my travels to Mont Saint-Michel and the time I have spent in the Normandy, however, our travel did not stop there and today I want to tell you about all of my favorite places in Paris and what I think is a must to see!
I have been to Paris more than a few times, but although now I may say I know the city well enough, France is a mystery to me. I am in favor of the opinion that the city does not reveal the soul of the country and this is the case with Paris as well. This time, however, I had the chance to get a glance at a little more different part of this amazing country – Normandy.
The spring is now on full blast and everyone is out either sunbathing, eating ice cream or just taking a walk enjoying the warm, sunny weather. Well, since I don’t want to differ too much from the common crowd I decided to use my Saturday to walk around the city. This is one of my favorite hobbies and in this sense I sometimes feel like Charles Dickens – the ultimate rambler. But you know what – you have to know your city in order to love it. Now it has been almost three years since I live in Vienna and there are so many magical places to discover.
Let me tell you Easter is a big deal in Vienna – get used to it. There are the Osternmarktets, chocolate bunnies everywhere and all around you will be sure to find lots and lots of Easter decorations. It is as much loved and celebrated here as Christmas. The preparations start maybe half a month before the holiday and everyone is anticipating it.
Normally many European countries celebrate Easter and people prepare themselves for this Sunday of the year but in Austria it is brought to another level. They basically have it all here – from chocolate sheep, chicks and bunnies to colored eggs and Easter bread. I think I even saw some sort of Adventkalender but for Easter (that I think is a bit too much). Read more
Finally I am back home for the holidays. There is nothing better if you ask me, than being with your loved ones and celebrating with them. I had my flight around one week before Christmas so I had a lot of time to spend with my close ones and to do some baking around the house. There is nothing better than the coziness of your own bed and the smell of freshly baked cookies.
There were a lot things changed around my hometown. I haven’t been home since September and I must say the change was for the good. There were a lot new things – like a huge roundabout, ice sculpture festival and a great Christmas decoration. Well in comparison to Vienna it is pretty much nothing but it was still nice since it is a lot more than last year.
I got the chance to see lots of friends and relatives over the past week and catch up with what’s been happening. The thing when you live abroad is that as much as you want to stay posted with everything happening in your friends’ lives – it is just not possible. Of course you know about the major things and you chat every now and then but still it is covering a lot less than you would want to.
As a matter of fact I am still waiting for some friends to return from abroad and catch up with them as well. I cannot believe it has been another three months away – it seems each time longer and longer. The funny thing is that once you get back home there is this funny feeling about being in your home again. The first two days it is always strange and a little bit weird till you get used to it again.
For example the place in Vienna where I am living is way smaller than the apartment where we live back home. That is why every time I go back it looks a lot bigger than I remember it. Don’t get me wrong – I love the feeling of living in a “huge” house but when you are in the situation of living in a tiny box for most of the year it is a bit strange at first when you are back home 😀
So for now that will be all – I wish you a very happy new year.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year… ” or something like that. Yeat it is definetly the most wonderful time – there are Christimas lights everywhere, sparkles and glitter surround you, the smell of gingerbread cookies in the air – it is to die for.
Some people say they hate Christimas – I don’t get it. Yes maybe there is a bit more hustle around and the stores get crowded and you hear over and over again the same songs but let me tell you – that is just no reason to hate. Think of all that is around you – how beautiful it is and what a magical time is upon us.
Ever since I was a child we went to the church on the first advent Sunday and watched how they light up the first advent candle. I always loved this moment of the year because that meant that there was now less than a month before Christmas and we would decorate the house and start with the preparations. Ever since I don’t live at home I try to make my own traditions but there is one I have kept till this day – having an advent calender.
When I was a kid I would go with my parents shopping, I would pick an advent calendar and then each day before Christmas I would have a small piece of chocolate. That was quite recent after the soviet regime and such European traditions were not very popular. However, my grandmother was part Austrian so I grew up with the habit of having an advent calender, singing “Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht”and baking Lebkuchen.
So till this day, one week before the 1st of December I go around on a hunt for the perfect advent calender. The variety of calenders is enormous and you can choose from a range between 3 euros as much as 25 euros for calender with chocolates inside it. I say that because you may know that there are different varieties – ones with beer, with fragrances and makeup inside and whatever you can think of. I stick with the traditional chocolate one and this year I chose the Kinder edition.
There is nothing better than a cup of Glühwein and a packet of Maroni to keep you warm and full while you wander around the Christmas markets. They are quite a big deal in Vienna and there are so many around the city that probably one day won’t be enough to cover all of them.
The biggest ones are the ones at Rathaus, Stephansplatz, Karlsplatz, Belvedre, Schönbrunn, Am Hof and Maria-Theresien-Platz. Of course there are many others as well such as the one in MQ or in Campus (Alters AKH). The smaller ones certainly make you feel cosier as they are preferred from the locals. If you want to stay away from the touristic crowds you should definitely skip the ones mentioned earlier and go for those which are not that popular.
If you want to be overwhelmed with Christmas spirit you should definitely go to the Christmas market at Rathaus. It is really magical with all of its decorations and stalls selling everything from Bretzels to small Indian figures. They have everything that you can think of and offer a great atmosphere. The only downfall to it is that it is very crowded especially around the weekend. That is more than normal but if you are a person that likes quieter places – that’s not the one for you.
If you are more in the mood for a royal stroll – choose one of the two markets situated in Belvedere and Schönbrunn. The second one is considered very preferable for tourists but it is very big and it normally has its own stage where they sing Christmas carols live. There are much more places where you can comfortably put your cup of Eierlikör and enjoy what is around you than in other bigger markets and that is why I like it. Also it has a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the court and I have to admit it really cheers up and puts you in a Christmas mood.
The smaller markets such as the one at Spittelberg and the one at the Campus could be seen in less than 30 minutes but their goal is not really to make a big profit from sales rather than offer you a warm beverage with some fries or chestnuts. I personally think it is very convenient for all of the students who have their lectures in the campus, because they can wind off after it with some friends over a cup of Glühwein.
All of the markets are decorated very beautifully so make sure to take a photo or two just to capture the magical moment. Normally the whole city is richly decorated and almost every street in the 1st district has some kind of decoration. I assure you it is a great place to visit around the Christmas holidays – the magic is in the air and even if you are the biggest Grinch on the planet you will definitely surrender to the magic of Vienna.