An American Christmas in Vienna

Boy, the retelling of this epic trip is getting out of hand!  And I have hardly even scratched the surface of my photos!  I’ll keep this one short and sweet with the professed goal of telling stories a little more frequently.

So, Marissa and I arrived in Vienna late on Christmas Eve and spent a few hours circling the Old Town looking for our hotel.  We finally found it and I made a mad-dash back to our car to pick it up and bring it round front for parking.

With my bladder fit to burst I struggled to wind my way through the streets of Old Vienna back to the hotel.  I had a streetmap, but what it didn’t easily indicate was which streets were One Way.  Through trial and error I discovered the path, though not before getting stuck in a vortex of one-way streets and sneaking through an alley past the Hofburg Palace.  Incidentally, I learned what “Eingang” means in German.

The next morning was Christmas!  As I mentioned, Marissa was quite the early bird while I wasn’t.  I didn’t mind on Christmas, however, as Marissa woke me around 9am with a large hazelnut latte from Starbucks and a muffin!  We exchanged presents and began the American half of our Viennese Christmas!

Our Christmas was split evenly into two parts.  The first part began with Starbucks in bed, moved on to watching American Christmas Movies (Home Alone) dubbed in German on the Austrian TV, and then continued with a bit of a stroll around Vienna.  It being Christmas, precious little was open–and nothing for lunch!  All the restaurants were either jam-packed or closed.  All except one, that is.  What could make our day more American than Starbucks and Home Alone?  Why, McDonald’s of course!

And what could make a better Christmas lunch than the one, the only, 1955 burgers!  Yes, yes, McDonald’s for Christmas?  I can feel the judgment being heaped upon us, but I don’t care.  1955 burgers are incredible and I am not ashamed!

Walking back to our hotel we were enticed by a thought.  We’re in Vienna.  What do the Viennese do?  Waltzes!  Concerts!  Ballets?  We approached the counter in the lobby and asked about all three.

Waltzes required months’ advanced registration, a coat and tails for me, and a ballgown for Marissa.  Three strikes on that one.

There was, however, a not-unreasonably priced (Raughley the optimist strikes again!) concert at the Strauss House!  We booked tickets, got dressed to the nines, as best we could, and waltzed down to the concert house, puns intended.

Though we were initially disappointed with the presentation, we soon found ourselves enjoying the music and the company of a hilarious gay couple from America seated next to us.

The concert was a Mozart/Strauss combo with a small orchestra performing the music and several solo dancers popping out to strut their stuff on certain songs.  Though we had a hard time seeing them over the heads of our fellow classy concert goers, we still managed to get a good bit of enjoyment out of it!  At the intermission, though, is where the fun really began.

There was a very curious character sitting one row in front of us.  We hadn’t noticed her before, but her behavior made her really stick out.  The reason we noticed her is because she was trying to take a self-portrait with her iPhone, but clearly she was aiming to capture the gay couple behind her in the photo.  As in, we could see her screen, and she was barely peeking up in the bottom of the photo while the two gay men were the central focus.  Not very subtle.

“Is she trying to take our photo?” one asked.  I turned to him and said, “I think that’s exactly what she’s doing!”  We began laughing and gossiping about her in return.  Turnabout is fair play, right?

Her date came back from the lobby or wherever, sparking much more gossip.  She was a heavily made-up woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties, maximum.  Her date was a much older gentleman.  Like much older.  And she kept strong-arming him into photos with her.  Not just coercing him or taking photos he didn’t want, but literally grabbing him around the neck in some sort of sleeper hold and dragging him down to her bosom so he’d be in her next self portrait.  To each his own!

So, from Starbucks to Cheeseburgers to Concerts to Gossiping, I think I can say that Marissa and I spent a very varied and excellent Christmas in Vienna!

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