Tag Archive: Vienna

We’ve long wanted to visit Slovenia so we drove from Vienna to Ljubljana with a Graz pit stop. Clean and green, plus it’s such a small country offering so much. Lake Bled comes to mind, but Piran stole our hearts. On a Food Trip, we included Trieste, Italy in our itinerary. Yes, that small strip of land off the Adriatic and the Italian border to Slovenia. As home to Illy Coffee, plus the prospect of seafood harvested off the Adriatic and cooked the Italian way, we couldn’t go wrong. Next, the van took us on a road trip visiting the small towns of the Istrian Peninsula. All of these destinations couldn’t have been better. By the time we left Istria and reached Zagreb, we were almost unfamiliar with big city vibes. And Plitvice? That was the highlight of my trip.

Just click on the following titles to the blog links .

From Vienna to Graz, Austria

Clean and Green Ljubljana

A Rainy Day in Lake Bled

Going Italian in Trieste

Driving Back to Slovenia’s Piran

Groznjan’s Art and Culture

More Truffles in Motovun

How Do You Say Rovinj?

Rijeka Off the Adriatic

Opatija’s Classy Vibe

Summery Day in Pula

Finally, Zagreb!

A Near-Miss in Plitvice

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Trip Length: 12 Days


Hotel Galeria

Hotel Coppe

Hotel Jadran

Hotel Dubrovnik

Christmas Markets of Vienna

Let it snow 🎶 let it snow 🎵 let it snow 🎼 We didn’t bargain for a White (early) Christmas but we sure got it. Along with frozen fingers and backs stiff from the cold. I should have worn my boots but there’s no saying it won’t rain which means melted snow that could turn icy. So, back to my rubber shoes for better traction. Better safe than sorry. And for good measure, 4 layers on mah’ self! Too cold for my bones at minus 4 Celsius. I know, some of you would say it’s nothing, but do remember we’re babes from the Tropics 🙄

Rathausplatz by Gizelle Jose

Rathausplatz. 📸 Gizelle José


Of the 4 Christmas Markets we have visited, I like the Christmas Market in Rathausplatz the best. Having said that, it attracts the most tourists and the crowd even goes thicker after sundown at 4pm. Yes, Virginia. Sunset at 4pm. It turns magical after dusk with the majestic town hall building as backdrop in all its illumination. The market stalls selling lanterns, toys, Christmas balls and charms look even lovelier as one sips mulled wine or punch while watching all that revelry. In front of the Town Hall is the ice skating lane that weaves around a giant Christmas Tree and another tree adorned with red heart-shaped bulbs. So pretty especially at night!

Rathausplatz 📸 Gizelle José

Rathausplatz. 📸 Gizelle José

The Christmas Markets seem to sell identical items (some say Made from China ⁉️), including food. But I noticed the lone Italian booth in Stephanplatz selling salume, prosciutto, pecorino and parmeggiano reggiano. We also found a stall selling raclette with pane from Rathausplatz which we didn’t find in the other markets. Gluhwein we found almost everywhere. And many, many candied nuts and fruits, muffins, as well as souvenir items. Hand mittens, winter coats, wraps and mufflers in Christmas-sy designs? Trinkets? They’ve got them!




A giant Christmas Tree, chestnuts roasting, the aroma of spiced mulled wine and punch wafting in the air. But Karlsplatz seems to cater more to children. I spotted a Ferris wheel from a distance and there’s also a Merry-go-round spinning on the strength of a lone man pedalling a bike. It isn’t too big but the size of this Christmas Market is manageable for young parents bringing in their kids. I am amused that the gluhwein stalls stand right beside the merry-go-round. I saw many parents enjoying their warm, spiced vino 🍷 there while watching their kids spinning around.



There are many more but we only managed 4 Markets. The last one, but certainly not the least, is the one in Schönbrunn. The Parade Ground where the market booths are are completely blanketed in snow. So pretty especially with the Palace in its imperial yellow hue dominating the background. There was a choir singing when we visited and the stalls are farther apart so that one doesn’t feel crowded in. There were also stand-up kiosks with tables where groups can chat over their gluhwein and langos or grilled sausages. Frankly, I felt the Christmas spirit more here. It must be the effect of all that space, all that snow and the singing of Christmas carols. So, do I love Christmas Markets? You bet I do, even in this freaking cold weather! Will I do it again? Why ever not? There’s more gluhwein to drink, and more raclette to partake. Frohe Weihnacten.

Ho Ho Ho! ☃️⛄️⛄️


Schönbrunn 📸Gizelle José

Merry Christmas!

We’re a band of baby boomers, Generation X and millennials who just can’t stay put. But we all share the same penchant for food and serendipitous adventures. Having just recently returned from Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava, our beer-drinking group of 6 grew to a band of 15 pax. Quite an assortment, if you ask me. We’ve had a few trips tucked under our belt and I must say, we had so much fun. And this happy bunch is going again! I ditched earlier plans to go to Slovenia and Croatia to join the Happy Bunch for a holiday in Bologna and Vienna. Switching from the city of dragons (Ljubljana) and towns along the Adriatic, it’d be a week instead of food porn in this part of Italy where trufa, prosciutto, tortellini, mortadella, balsamico, tagliatelle, parmeggiano, Lambrusco reign supreme!

And this was only last July!

Touchdown, Bologna!

While some of us are visiting first-timers, Bologna as homebase offers many possibilities. Florence, Lucca and Pisa are just a half hour away by train and so is Modena, and a bit farther down, Parma. Then there’s Venice, Verona and Padua or Padova. The boys would likely not miss the chance to check out the museums — NOT of artworks, but those lovely machines going by the names of Lamborghini,Ducati and Ferrari. Different folks, different strokes. That’s what I love about this group. We’d split up to chase our own dreams, and reunite in a heartbeat. Like when we all agreed to visit one day the little republic of San Marino together and hopefully do a side trip to Ravenna. But most importantly, we agree on the food and vino. That’s important — and that’s how we ended up in Ristorante Victoria for our first meal and in Mercato delle Erbe for cocktails cum dinner after our walking tour.

Prosciutto, Mortadella, Burrata

Tagliatelle al Ragu

We had mussels cooked in wine and also with tomato sauce. Both really good!

Almost devoured before we remembered to snap a photo of Tortellini al Panna

It’s only Day 1. And we plan to do a more leisurely tour of Bologna after a good rest. For sure, we’d be back in Piazza Maggiore and visit the basilica and cathedral. There’s enough time as we’d be holed up in the same hotel for the next 5 nights. Bologna is not as cold as Vienna but single digit temps outdoors walking around the piazzas need some serious consideration. After all, it’s truly beginning to look like Christmas everywhere. The Christmas trees are up, so with the Christmas lights that make the place look so festive and magical. Much time to enjoy the illuminations since sunsets are early. Like 5pm!

On our way back home, we’d catch our homeward flight out of Vienna. Staying a few nights in this capital makes me giddy with anticipation. Why? There’s the many Christmas Markets of Vienna! Too many to count. It’s the Christmas Market of my dreams! A genuine Christmas Winter with temps hovering at low single digits or negatives. Gluhwein or mulled wine, raclette, bratwurst, apple strudels, Sacher torte and all those flaky baked delights. All savoured in negative temps. I’m excited, if you haven’t caught the drift. White Christmas feels? Let’s do this!

The Christmas Market of my dreams!

My Schengen visa is good till December 12 of this year. I do want to use it again and in fact drew up several options — like back to Spain for a week’s camino with my apo but he refused, thinking it’s too much hard work (hiking), or going to Croatia, or Iceland, or Poland — places I haven’t been to — or visit a friend in Switzerland. All plans fizzled out. Then some of my friends invited me to join their small group on an “impulsive, whimsical” trip to Vienna, Budapest and Bratislava. Problem is they are leaving Manila while I’m still in Vietnam. So I did the next best thing. I booked a ticket flying to Vienna on the same day I’m arriving from Vietnam to catch up with them. Why not? Or as they say here, “wine not”?

I was very tired when I landed early morning in Vienna. I should have slept throughout the 12-hour flight from Taipei to Viena but flying solo makes me all too cautious and alert that I must have slept only 3 hours max. I found my friends ready to hit the city when I reached our hotel soon after they were done with breakfast. And so we set off. By 9am, they were eager for their Viennese coffee after only an hour of city walk. (I was keen on having a beer though — yes, at 9am!) – and so we sat down and ordered our preferences. 🍺☕️

Since they got here earlier and covered the major Vienna attractions already, we planned on just a few more. It’s my 4th visit here so I don’t mind missing some of the sights. But I haven’t been to Belvedere Palace, so we did that. Plus a visit to the St. Stephen’s Cathedral. 🙏🏻

After Belvedere, St. Stephen’s and another pass of the Hapsburg Palace, we went in search for a good lunch in the Naschmart. Then we headed back towards the hotel for some rest. By evening, we set off for the Rathaus where a musical concert is taking place and where a lively, festive mercato-type food court is set up. I love these summer concerts and food camps. Dinner was an assortment of Viennese, German, Hungarian and Slovak delicacies although we likewise spotted some Asian food stalls. Here, we had our wine, spritzer and beer. Plus assorted sausages, meatloaf, and whatever else we spotted in the next table! It was crowded and we were lucky to get a table. No chairs. But we’re just too happy with our drinks, pica pica and music that we can’t complain.

Since the musical concert wouldn’t start yet and we’re done with dinner, we decided to make good use of our time. The coffee and pastry shop at the corner beckoned. It was time for iced coffee, lattes, sacher torte and apple strudel. We picked a good spot to people-watch that we had to struggle getting up and out to claim our seats in front of the Rathaus for the musical concert.

While my friends stayed 3 nights in Vienna, I only managed a night. No worries. I’m really more keen on the trip’s 2nd leg: Budapest in Hungary. So, the next day we geared up for the train ride to Budapest. Watch this page!