Two Months of Sleigh Bells and Gingerbread in the Best City in the World for a Christmas Celebration

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Blake Nicholas
November 24, 2023
Friends Ice Skating

Oh, November in Vienna! As the weather descends in temperature, Christmas market stands pop up around all the districts. The districts are vastly different and are little microcosms of their own subcultural tendencies within Vienna. I think that it would be fair to speculate that on some level, the atmosphere of each market seems to reflect something about the districts' character. 

For Christmas Hop #1, the IES Abroad group started at the magnificent heart of Vienna: none other than glorious Stephansdom.  I was running a little fashionably late, of course, because I had to curate my navy blue jacket with black gloves, my beanie, and tussock boots. However, when I arrived, I was mesmerized by all of the little touches of Christmas spirit everywhere I looked. Little ornaments, colorful bracelets, Viennese pastries, and adorable sock mugs filled up all of the markets surrounding the cathedral. Here, I got a tasty dish which I was so busy enjoying I forgot to look up the name. It was basically a mix of bratwurst and potatoes, and my friend informed me that they make a similar recipe in Bratislava.

Side Note: One tip for approaching the markets is to withdraw money out of a nearby Geldautomat (ATM) before starting your Christmas shopping because the vast majority of Christmas markets will only accept cash.

Next, we bounced on over to Am Hof to visit a more local spot. At this location, they had wonderful local arts and crafts. I also tried some churro with melted chocolate which was rather tasty. For such a non-touristy area, the market was impressive in its size. This market did not have the same grandeur as St. Stephens or Rathaus, but there is something remarkable and comforting about its humble ambiance.

After that, we took an S-Bahn to a market that was about eight minutes away from Rathaus. I cannot remember the name of the market we visited though because I was having so much fun. However, what I can remember is that this market had great Chestnuts. I also bought an adorable little Christmas present for my mom here.

Another (slightly implied) side note: If you are looking for some Evergreen souvenirs from Wien for family or friends, Christmas markets are the way to go.

Finally, IES Abroad let us go off and explore the city on our own for the night, so I decided to meet some of my friends at the most lively Christmas market known as Rathaus. In the best way, I truly felt like I had walked into a Christmas-themed amusement park. This Christmas market truly had it all. The golden lights that illuminated Wiener Rathaus, the joyful cheer of carousel riders, and the awe of spectators from the heart tree all created a sense of wonder in me (and I assume everyone else who was there for the first time as well). It would not be the same without ice skating, and yes, Rathaus had a skating rink too (kind was more of an ice skating track with a rink in the middle, but just as fun nonetheless). 

I truly have not experienced this kind of Christmas Spirit anywhere else (sorry Poway, Candy Cane Lane is a close second). But if you want a place to raise up some Christmas cheer, Vienna is definitely the place to do it.

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Blake Nicholas

I was born and raised in San Diego, CA, and go to Occidental College located in Los Angeles. I am a philosophy major and an interdisciplinary writing minor. In most my free time, I like to dance. My favorite styles of dance are ballet and lyrical :)

2023 Fall
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