Christmas Eve in Vienna

Today, it was Christmas! You can check the title again if you want… In Austria, Christmas is celebrated on the evening of the 24th and people often have a pretty ordinary day at work before going home to Christmas in the evening.

We started the day by going for brunch at 12 Munchies, an American/British cafe in a nearby district. We took the tram there. Inside the cafe there was a mix of furniture as well as interesting things on the walls and on the shelves at the back of the cafe. Aimee pointed out two tablet blister packs which had been put in a frame. There was also a box of books for kids – Lisi and I found Walter while a child on the table next to us read a book in French about the green cross code.

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As for the food, I am reliably informed that the coffee was good, though I’m not a coffee drinker myself. I had a lovely hot chocolate – I should have really ordered a large one though as the small one was really small! We started with sandwiches and bread. I had a roast beef sandwich and a small tomato bread, while Aimee and Lisi had sandwiches with pecorino as well. For dessert there was pecan pie and raspberry buttermilk muffins, which were tall and thin and very soft – full of real raspberries.

The cafe was very busy, with lots of people coming and going, dodging in and out of the furniture or sitting around looking achingly cool. Lisi spotted that all the people wearing glasses were all wearing the same glasses… even the kids. Once you’ve seen that you can’t unsee it. Happily Lisi and Aimee weren’t in the same-specs club, though Aimee did say she had a pair like them at home.

As well as being a cafe, 12 Munchies also proclaims that it sells “Britwurst” (as opposed to Bratwurst) and we picked some up for Christmas dinner tomorrow, along with some bacon.

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Back outside in the extremely windy fresh air, we headed up the hill towards Tuerkenschanz Park where there was a small Christmas market.

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In this one all the sheds were painted red. Most of the stalls sort of looked like charity shops – one notable object for sale being a plastic Psy dancing Gangnam Style – but we all bought something from a stall selling various flavours of schnapps and jam.

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After the market, Aimee went home with the frozen food and Lisi and I continued to the food co-op. On the way there I spotted a very old-fashioned looking shop, which Lisi said was always closed… except today! We went inside and found lots of toys and games, as well as a lot of wooden kitchenware and baskets. Everything seemed really cheap but nicely made. Lisi bought a nutcracker as she and Aimee had been given a bag of walnuts by Gudrun, their neighbour. The was really looking forward to cracking them with her new nutcracker.

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We spent quite a long time looking around the shop – complete with old fashioned till – and then moved on to the food co-op. I had expected just vegetables and fruit, but the co-op also sources beer, wine, juices, dairy products, meat… there was a lot there. It operates on an honesty system, where you pre-order what you would like. Funds are then transferred into the co-op’s account online. You keep track of your purchases on a sheet, and top-up your account when you need to. Some products are not pre-ordered, and you can take what you like from those, adding them to your account. We got everything which Aimee and Lisi had ordered, except for eggs.

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In the not-ordered section, there was fruit juice, wine and chocolate made by Zotter, a well known Austrian make. Lisi and I spent a long time opening all the cardboard boxes and making our choices. Some of the bars were for presents, and I also picked up some drinking chocolate. There are many, many flavours available, and lots of unusual combinations. We totted up our totals and Lisi filled in the account book, then it was time for home.

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When we got back we were really pleased to finally get out of the wind!

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After some tea and chocolate sampling, we had a game of Settlers of Catan – a game that Aimee does not dislike, despite not being a big board game fan. I have only played it a couple of times, but we ended up having a really good battle with Lisi winning a turn before I was able to! After that, Aimee cooked while Lisi and I kept her company in the kitchen, providing sous-chef assistance when required, and otherwise doing origami. I started making a little string of “Pop-up jewels” in different colours, and Lisi did some more artistic models – including a pig.

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Aimee’s paneer curry was lovely, and after we had eaten we brought the Christmas tree through to the living room and gathered around for gift exchanging. Afterwards we watched the Snowman. If you haven’t seen it…here it is with an introduction by David Bowie, which Lisi hadn’t seen before.

In return, we watched Dinner for One, a sketch which is always shown at New Year here. You can watch it below…

We enjoyed some quince schnapps and the Tokaj that Aimee and and I had brought back from Hungary. Then it was time for bed!

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