Oma and Opa in Vienna

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We have been awaiting the arrival for months now.  Oma and Opa are here!  And they are just in time to help us welcome the Christmas spirit.

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Anyone for a Christmas Punch?  Or three?  This may be sacrilegious to say, but Austrian Christmas Punsch with all of its berries and peaches is so much better then gluhwein.

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The Christmas markets here are full of other goodies too!

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It is late November, not yet Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in Vienna is already in full swing.  I guess America isn’t the only place that likes to start decorating early.  The markets pop up all over town and the most amazing thing is that they are all different.  Nobody is selling the same slippers or the same hats.  In France last year I felt like a lot of the vendors all had the same stuff, but that is not the case here.

One of our favorites was this Christkindlmarkt (all one word, this is German remember) at Schonnbrunn Palace.

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It was FREEZING.  So cold that our toes were frozen and we weren’t sure if it was colder walking or standing still.  But the choir was singing and there were beautiful ornaments for sale, and there couldn’t have been a more unique setting in which to consume a giant baked potato covered in ham and cheese.  The baked potato as Street Food.  Genius!  The Christmas Punch is genius too.  How can you stay too focused on the cold when you have these warm, fruity drinks in your hand?  It’s almost like being at the beach.  Except it’s winter and FREEZING.

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On another day, we went out walking through the vineyards in Grinzing.  There are small, family-run wineries called Heurigen all over Vienna, and on weekends you can find them out along the hiking paths offering the latest vintage.  The Young Wine (“sturm”) season is over, but now it’s time for the New Wine (“most”).

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They also sell small snacks to go along with the wine.

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Most, like Sturm, is pretty sweet and probably not my favorite, but it’s great for an unexpected happy hour in the middle of the afternoon.  It will be fun to come back and do this in the summer when it’s not so chilly!

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Having Oma and Opa around gives all kinds of excuses to go new places and try new things.  Some of the things we learned during their visit:

Christmas Punsch is better than Gluhwein

Gingerbread is pretty, but overall kind of dry

It IS possible to make too much stuffing

The german word for brisket is “bruststuck”

You have to be careful cutting your frankfurters in nice restaurants, because the skin is a little thick, and if you don’t anchor them well with a fork they will go shooting off the plate.  Maybe even into someone’s purse.

There is a farmer’s market that sells champagne and caviar on Saturday mornings.

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You should make sure you understand what the waitress means when she asks if you want the “big” beer.

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Some German words are just funny.

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We also did some cake tasting thanks to Oma’s fearless purchases in the pastry shop.  Sachertorte, Linzertorte, Cremeschnitte, Walnuss Torte, some other chocolate things and some other nutty things.  We decided that like gingerbread, some cakes look pretty, but to our American tastes are a little dry.  Still, this was one fun experiment we wouldn’t mind repeating!

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This is one whole visit we wouldn’t mind repeating!

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Violin concerts, swimming lessons, Thanksgiving Day, Blokus, riding the trams, taking the train to Bratislava, braising brisket, making pizza, drinking too much champagne and eating too much cheese, isn’t that what family is for?  Cafe Landtman, Cafe Central, Leopold’s, St. Stephan’s, and church bells ringing in the kitchen window at breakfast, isn’t that what Vienna is for?  We’re so thankful that Mom and Dad can travel, that they are willing to spend their vacations flying across the world to help us out and to be there when the kids come home from school, even just for a week.  The longer we’re away the more forgotten we may become, but these little moments are what keep us going.  We need you more than we get you, and we are so happy that you’re here!

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