|That moment we turned into the Christmas markets at Schonnbrunn Palace.|
|Snaps from Salzburg's Christmas Markets|
If you've never been to a European Christmas market, they are held in town centres and squares from the end of November until the end of December. There are little huts serving mulled wine (and on occasion, alcoholic hot chocolates), sizzling sausages, spietzel (a cheesy noodle) pretzels, dumplings and stews. The main attraction are the stalls selling a dazzling array of decorations, tinsel twinkling under the lights. There is always a big Christmas tree, a band playing Christmas tunes and a very festive feeling. People go with their families to get in the festive spirit.
Last December, we were lucky enough to return to the beautiful Christmas markets in Vienna (where we first encountered them a few years before). Before we'd arrived in Vienna we'd had an incredibly stressful week packing, about to move apartments. We were also in a stressful stage of life where didn't know quite where we were headed. I remember feeling pretty wound up and fed up. The first place we went to after checking into our AirBnB was our favourite Christmas market at Schonnbrunn Palace. I will never forget turning through the gates, seeing the giant Christmas tree twinkling with lights through the cold mist. The smell of chestnuts roasting and mulled wine filled my nose. A magical sensation washed over me. The kids eyes lit up as they suddenly remembered this place for a few years before. Every little bit of stress melted away and every little niggle felt worth it for just that moment. That one moment of being in that one magic spot.
A few moments later, Skip and I had gluhwein in hand and the kids were demolishing pretzels bigger than their heads under that giant twinkling tree. I looked over at Lil-lil who kept saying over and over: "I'm just so happy." There's no doubt she spoke for all of us.
I'm lucky enough to have lots of special places that I've been to throughout my life, places that seem to hold just a little bit of magic, places that you just can't explain exactly why they make you so happy. The Christmas markets in Austria, especially those at Schonnbrunn Palace, are high up on that list.