Merry Christmas!! Kyle and I have been in Europe this past week, vacationing in Zurich, Vienna, and Amsterdam. I wasn't in the Christmas spirit when I left D.C., but you can't help but feel merry in Europe, because cities all over Europe have Christmas markets set up for the season.
There was a small Christmas market in Zurich, but Vienna was full of Christmas markets, and Kyle and I made sure to take full advantage of them. Kyle visited Munich a few years ago and has raved about the Christmas market experience ever since. Having finally experienced them myself, I totally get it now, they are incredible. The news of the attack at the Berlin Christmas market was sickening because these markets are a source of so much happiness and cheer.
Christmas markets are generally set up in a city square with stalls full of knicknacks and food. Everything is decked out with baubles, lights, and tinsel, and, at larger markets, there may even be a skating rink. The best part of Christmas markets is the street food and Glühwein. Glühwein is warm, spiced wine and is a integral part of any Christmas market. In Vienna, they give you your wine in ceramic mugs. When you pay for your wine you put down a 3 euro deposit for the mug, which you get back if you bring the mug back. Kyle and I definitely kept a few mugs as mementos from our trip and you frequently encounter people on the streets carrying their mugs from one market to the next.
The food served at the stands are specific to the country you're in, but given that Christmas markets are a big thing in Central Europe, they generally includes a lot of sausages. In Zurich, we ate veal sausage that was served wrapped in a piece of paper and with a hunk of bread on the side. In Vienna, we ate Käsekrainer sausages (pork sausages with melting cheese inside) from a Weiner Wurstelstand where the sausage was served in a roll. Unlike hot dog buns, which are open on the side, the Viennese serve their bratwurst in large rolls, which have holes down the center. The server adds ketchup and mustard to the center of the roll and then fits the bratwurst inside. Spoiler alert: they are delicious! If you're into sweets there are also numerous stands selling confections.
Below are some photos from our Christmas market experiences, as well as photos from around Vienna, which is lit up with lights. Enjoy and I hope you all have a wonderful, safe, and happy holiday!