A Trip to Vienna
This year a few of my friends and I decided to make the most of our four-week break and take a trip to Vienna for the Christmas markets. One of my housemates was determined I was a grinch because I wouldn’t let her play Christmas music at the start of November, but if anything would get me into the Christmas spirit it would be a few days in Austria, surrounded by mulled wine and Christmas decorations.
The great thing about Vienna was that it was completely feasible on a budget. We got the cheapest flights (which meant a three-hour layover in Spain both ways), and we were lucky enough to have a contact in the city, and therefore free accommodation. Thanks to this, our only real expenses were food, a metro pass, and souvenirs.
I knew very little about Vienna before visiting, other than that the locals spoke German, and it was not part of Italy as the lovely lady I sat next to on the flight to Spain seemed to think (I didn’t have the heart to correct her). Upon arriving, my first discovery was that Vienna, among other things, was ABSOLUTELY FREEZING! We landed in sheets of icy rain, and by the time we had dragged our luggage from the metro to the flat, I couldn’t feel my fingers or toes!
The rain ceased after the first night, but the cold was there to stay, dropping to below zero on most of the days we were there. This was, however, a perfect excuse to break up our amblings round the markets by ducking into typically Viennese cafes to sample the famous coffees and cakes while we defrosted ourselves. Then it was back into the cold to immerse ourselves in the festive crowds of shoppers from all over the world, hankering to get their hands on the beautiful handmade decorations the markets are so famous for.
There was something quite heart-warming about the soft glow of the market huts against the backdrop of the stunning white architecture, the smell of cinnamon and gingerbread mingling with the slightly muffled Christmas music and choruses of ‘danke’ and ‘bitte’. Particularly beautiful was the Rathaus (town hall) at night, which we couldn’t help comparing to a Disney palace, lit up like a giant Christmas ornament.
I even managed to do a little revision while I was there, with many of the buildings decorated with Latin inscriptions, and the Karlskirche having two columns extremely similar to that of Trajan, which I had studied in my City of Rome module only a few weeks before. I suppose sometimes you just can’t escape your degree!
Overall, Vienna was a lovely few days that really helped me get into the Christmas spirit after a long first term back at uni. I would recommend it to anyone at this time of year, as it’s so festive, and so easy to do on a budget (if you’re careful about how many Christmas ornaments you can fit into your luggage!).
(P.S. Next time I’m bringing thermals!)