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TOP TEN THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN VIENNA IN DECEMBER

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Vienna gets lots of visitors in December and that’s not too surprising because the city is beautiful this time of year. Here’s the top 10 things you’ll want to do and see while here in December to get the most of your visit.

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    1. Visit a Christmas Market. With over 20 markets to choose from, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a list of Vienna Christmas markets from my 2014 post with links. Note that the special events have probably changed but otherwise the markets and descriptions usually stay pretty consistent year for year.
    2. Indulge in some Glühwein while at that market. For your own Glühwein recipe – check out my “How to make Glühwein” post.

      Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

      Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

    3. Have lunch at Cafe Central – they have what’s called a “Menü” option on the weekdays and it is usually a soup and a main meal consisting of a meat or non-meat dish and rather reasonably priced. Be sure to make reservations or you might have to wait for a table or not get one at all. You can write to them for reservations at the email address on the Cafe Central website but reservations are only valid if you receive a confirmation email (usually pretty quick response time).
    4. See the mosaic of the Last Supper. Do this after your visit to Cafe Central, since the Minoritenkirche with the mosaic is a two minute walk up the road from the Cafe.  More about this amazing piece of art work in my post: “Napoleon, Jesus and the Free Masons: the Last Supper in Vienna.”
    5. Have an authentic Austrian dinner in one of Vienna’s oldest restaurants – the Griechenbeisl. Again, reservations are a necessity. Check out my post about the Greichenbeisl restaurant entitled, “If the Walls Could Speak – A Schnitzel with Turkish Invaders, Beethoven, Twain and Johnny Cash.”

      Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

      Fancy Schmancy Aida Krapfen

    6. Try a Krapfen. Don’t know what that is? Kind of like a apricot jam filled doughnut – more on the subject here: “Krapfen – Getting Fat in Honor of Fat Tuesday.”
    7. Definitely, definitely, visit a Coffeehouse to catch your breath, read a newspaper, discuss the world, and maybe even have some coffee. These two posts should help you with that: This one has a list of choice coffeehouses: “Vienna and her Coffeehouses – Sit Back and Smell the Coffee,” and this one describes a bit of the coffeehouse culture: “Place to Visit in Vienna – Coffeehouses.”
    8.  Digest some art and see some museums. Check out my post “Things to See in Vienna – Art Museums and Street Art.”

      Entrance to the Griechenbeisl

      Entrance to the Griechenbeisl

    9. Visit the Austrian National Treasury and check out some amazing artifacts like the legendary holy lance/ Spear of Destiny. More about that on my post:”The Holy Lance (“Spear of Destiny”) & the Power to Rule the World.”
    10. Take a stroll through the park of the Schönbrunn Castle and be sure to hike the hill behind the castle up to the gorgeous Gloriette where you can have a hot cocoa and if you’re timing is right, listen to some live piano music.
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How to Make Glühwein (Mulled Wine) and Spread the Good Cheer

HOW TO GLÜHWEIN YOUR HOLIDAYS AND ADD SOME GEMÜTLICHKEIT

“Komm, trinken ma noch ein Glaserl, so jung kemma nimma zamm”
(Komm, trinken wir noch ein Gläschen, so jung kommen wir nie wieder zusammen)
(Come, let’s drink another little glass, we will never come together again as young as we are now)

First the basics — pronunciation:

Gluehwein Ingredients

Glühwein Ingredients: red wine, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and orange slices

Glühwein. Don’t let the umlaut (those two dots above the “u”) intimidate you — it’s easy to pronounce.

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market - photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Gluehwein at Schönnbrunn Castle Christmas Market – photo courtesy of M. Gardzina

Just say the word Glue (like Elmer’s glue) and vine and then put the two together and you are good to go.

And experience has told me that the more you drink, the better your German becomes (or the others are too drunk to notice your terrible pronunciation).

Okay, now that you can say it, if you live in the US, it’s time to bring a bit of the Old Country to your Thanksgiving or Holiday festivities. And if you live in Austria, it’s time to invite over some locals and impress them with how well you have culturally adapted to your new home. Because Glühwein is THE drink of the Christmas Markets (see my post with a comprehensive list of Vienna’s Christmas Markets)   and if you can’t get to a Glühwein stand, then bring the stand home to you with one of the following two recipes. The first is the traditional Glühwein and the second is the so-called Vienna Glühwein, a Glühwein with a bit of punch (well more than a bit).

TRADITIONAL GLÜHWEIN Print This Post

star anise

star anise

Ingredients:

– 2 bottles of dry red wine. (In Austria we use Zweigelt but I think a Merlot would work just as well)

– about ¼ C of sugar. But if you are anti-sugar, leave it out. It will be equally good.

– 1 orange, sliced (make sure they are unsprayed “unbehandelt / Schale zumVerzehr geeignet” – if you can’t find these at some place like Whole Foods, then just peel them)

– 1 stick of cinnamon

– 5 cloves (in Austria, called “Nelken” and sold either in a green bottle or bag in spice section)

– a few star anise (in Austria called “Sternanis” and sold in a green bottle in spice section)

Preparation:

Warm wine in large pot but be careful not to boil it because you don’t want it to evaporate. Next add the slices of orange. I like to stick the cloves and star anise directly into the orange slices (look at photo above and specifically the orange slice, there I have inserted the cloves to demonstrate). Then add the cinnamon  and allow to simmer.

When the wine is warm, add sugar.

Serve in a mug and enjoy.

Possible additions:

Mulled wine spices –
in the US, get this at World Market or at Amazon

Jar of Gluehwein spice

Jar of Gluehwein spice

in Austria, get this at Meinl on Graben in the tea section upstairs.

Add a Glühwein Fix bag or two:

In USA available at: International Food Shop online store.

Gluehfix Gluehwein bags

Gluehfix Gluehwein bags

 

In Austria, at Julius Meinl, again in tea section. Billa usually sells it too but mine didn’t and I wasted about a half hour of my life scouring first the tea section, then the alcohol section, then the baking section thinking, “If I were a Glühwein bag, where would I be?” Then thinking, “If I were a Billa employee trying to cram all these products in the space the size of a living room, where would I put it?”

THE INSTANT GLÜHWEIN (which indeed feels a bit like an oxymoron since Glühwein is about slowing down a bit, relaxing and enjoying the company of loved ones – being gemütlich)

Glühwein sold in a bottle. I advise against this Glühwein version. Part of the beauty of Glühwein is the scent of the holidays that the pot of spices and wine exude throughout your house as it simmers on the stove. But if you are pressed for time or simply opposed to anything that requires about 5 minutes of prep time then give the bottle version a try. Apparently World Market sells it at its stores. And if you go this route, for goodness sakes, heat the Glühwein in a pot on the stove, add some orange slices and spices anyway and pretend, pretend, pretend, it’s completely homemade. (It can be our little secret, I won’t tell anyone).

Gluehwein in a bottle

Glühwein in a bottle ready to go. Sold at World Market and some liquor stores

You can also try these guys International Food Shop (which I must say, I have no experience with so if you try them, let me know if it worked out, if not, I will remove the plug from my blog. But if it does – the site looks pretty awesome and I can highly recommend this White Elderflower Syrup with sparkling water as a great alternative to soft drinks – just need a spoonful per glass)

 

And for the more daring:

VIENNESE GLÜHWEIN WITH A BIT OF A HO HO HO ADDED Print This Post

Ingredients:

– 3 C of water (3/4 L)

– a few black tea bags

Vienna Gluehwein Ingredients

Ingredients for a Vienna Glühwein with hard alcohol

– ½ orange sliced (make sure they are unsprayed “unbehandelt / Schale zumVerzehr geeignet”)

– ½ lemon sliced (make sure they are unsprayed “unbehandelt / Schale zumVerzehr geeignet”)

– 4 ¼ C (1/2 L) of red wine (Zweigelt or Merlot)

– ½ C sugar (100 g) – again, if anti-sugar, just leave this out

– ½ C (1/8 L) freshly pressed orange juice (or something you can pass for it by cheating, just make sure it is 100% juice)

– 2 schnaps glasses (4 cl) of apricot schnapps

– 4 schnaps glasses (8 cl) of Amaretto

schnaps glass and apricot schnaps

schnaps glass and apricot schnaps

– 3 schnaps glasses (6 cl) of rum (30%)

– a stick of cinnamon

– cloves

– a stick of vanilla

Preparation:

Boil water with tea bags. Place cloves in slices of lemons and oranges and add to tea. Turn down heat to a simmer and add red wine. Add sugar when wine mixture is warm. Next add the orange juice, schnaps, amaretto and rum. Last add the rest of the spices.

Serve and spread the good cheer! Print This Post

 

 

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