Ok this time I’m actually going to tell you all about Vienna.
In case you missed it (not sure how you could!), Part 1 was all about the fact that while on our long weekend in Vienna, Frenchman and I casually GOT ENGAGED! Still super excited, if you can’t tell.
So Part 2 now is finally actually all about our little trip. And perfectly in time for Christmas week since it was super beautiful and festive there.
Ok, so Saturday morning we woke up crazy early to head to the airport for our flight. This is one of those situations where catching an early flight so you arrive at your destination early enough to take advantage of a full day is the rational, adult decision, but when the alarm goes off at 5AM you seriously regret your life choices.
Anywho, we made it to Vienna after lots of planes, trains, and (bus-shaped) automobiles. First impressions: Austria is super clean, organized, and polite. I was in heaven. Escalators guide humans into 2-file lines. People allow you to pass getting on and off trains. Signage everywhere.
We checked into our hotel (which I totally forgot to take pictures of, but it was very funky and kitsch, you can take my word for it) and set out to find some lunch. We found a cafe right nearby and had a light meal (and the best cappuccino of my LIFE – Vienna does Viennese coffee with incredible whipped cream) before exploring.
The historic city center is beautiful on its own – with its winding old streets, Imperial architecture, and gilt buildings – and then on top of it all it is chock FULL of Christmas markets in traditional little chalets. Like, the entire city is one big maze of Christmas markets.
We wandered around for a few hours before heading back to the hotel to relax and clean up for dinner. As this trip was for Frenchman’s 30th birthday, we had a fancy reservation booked at Das Loft restaurant, which offers spectacular views of Vienna. We had a fantastic meal and then took the long way back, taking in more of the gorgeous Christmas atmosphere.
Sunday was a full day starting bright and early with breakfast at this fantastic hidden, local-y restaurant called Ulrich. Seriously, if you go to Vienna, we 100% recommend this place for super delicious food that’s totally reasonable. From there, we explored some more Christmas markets (we were advised to check out the one intended for locals, somewhat off the beaten path of the touristy center), and then hit up the Hofburg Palace museum to learn a bit about Imperial life. Spoiler: lots of gold.
We also took the opportunity to stop by the Sacher Hotel, per enthusiastic and repeated encouragement from my mother, for their signature Sacher Torte. (We also got an apfelstrudel to round things out). We earned it.
We also made a stop at the St. Stephens Cathedral (Stephansdom) which was gorgeous. They were setting up for a Christmas concert, which I’m sure was spectacular with the echoing acoustics.
That night, our mission was to find traditional, authentic Austrian cuisine. We had passed a place the night before that seemed perfect, so even after some extra online research that’s where we headed. It was delicious – schnitzel and sausage and potatoes – everything you could imagine from an Austrian meal.
Afterwards, we walked it off with another nighttime stroll through the city center past the cathedral and Christmas lights and holiday window displays. And then, in front of a beautifully-lit fountain surrounded by little Christmas trees, my Frenchman proposed. I know I told this story before, but it still totally counts as part of the trip! We celebrated with a glass of sparkling wine at the lounge of the Park Hyatt, which was super cozy and romantic – also recommended.
Monday was a packed day, since we were flying out that evening, but we made the most of it. We (again) had breakfast at Ulrich – goes to show how much we loved it – and then went to the Leopold Museum for the Gustave Klimt exhibit. There is a whole neighborhood of Vienna called the Museumsquartier, and there are more museums than you can count. There’s no shortage of things to do, but on a quick weekend you have to pick and choose!
After the museum, we did the one thing we had been dying to do – eat at the Christmas market. Frenchman was dying for the sausages. I was dying for a boot mug of boozy punch. We were both happy with the turtlnik dessert!
And that about wraps up our weekend! We snagged a few souvenirs here and there, and had a fantastic time. And I can’t imagine seeing Vienna at any other time of year – it was just too perfect with all the lights and decorations. And boots of mulled beverages.