02 January 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas... in Vienna!

We still had a rental car on Christmas Eve day, so we decided to drive out to Bratislava in Slovakia. It is only an hour away, and a lot of people in Vienna go there for cheaper shopping.



We saw there are castle ruins there, so we headed over to Devin Castle to start our day. It was a little windy by the river, but still a nice day for a walk outside.



Here is a view of the castle. The gates were closed for the winter, so if we want to actually tour the grounds we will have to come back in spring. But we could still get some nice views of the castle, and also had a nice walk along the river.



Another view of the castle. Elora was really excited to see the castle. We had a tough time getting her to turn around and look at the camera instead.



During our walk we encountered a house that had about 8 cats running around. They were all very friendly and the kids were so happy to pet all the kitties. I think we spent more time here than we did looking at the castle... When it was time to go Oliver gave this kitty a hug and a kiss.



The castle gates had this sign - notice, it is not just guarded by dogs, but it is guarded by "THE" dog. I wonder how big their dog is...



It turns out all the shops are closed in Europe on the 24th of December, so we didn't get to do any shopping... but the old town area in Bratislava is a nice place to walk around, with narrow cobblestone streets and beautiful buildings.




The kids liked the Christmas lights that were draped over this fountain. There were a lot of other little kids here too, running around the fountain. Elora and Oliver had a good time running around with all the other children.



We found a little cafe open, and went inside to discover that it was a chocolate shop. The kids were so excited to see all the treats. We decided to sample a few chocolates and get some hot chocolate to warm us up.



The hot chocolate came in a bunch of different flavors. We tried dark chocolate with mint and milk chocolate with caramel. It was really thick, awesome chocolate. Reminded us of hot chocolate in Spain actually. And it was only two Euro! For a big mug of the best hot chocolate ever! Wow, I want to come back to Bratislava just for this place.



More pretty buildings...



We decided to cook a traditional Austrian meal for Christmas Eve dinner. We bought a goose, looked up on the internet how to cook it, and I made semmel knodel for the first time. They are like stuffing, only you shape them into balls and boil them. Very tasty. Mine were not the best I have ever tasted, but pretty good for my first try! Now I know a few tips and tricks for the next time I make them. They also eat cranberry sauce with goose here, so I made some from scratch, and of course gravy. But we substituted mashed potatoes for the sauerkraut. There is a limit to how traditional I want to go...



Our friend Jahangir came over for dinner. He is an artist, who paints really amazing paintings, and moved here from Afghanistan. Here is his blog with some pics of his paintings: m-paintings.persianblog.ir



After dinner we acted out the nativity story with Elora's finger puppet nativity. Elora was glad to help us tell the story, it is one of her favorites.



Oliver was intrigued by the finger puppets, and enjoyed playing with them after we were done with the story. He also loves that the stable plays "Silent Night" and makes us play the song over and over and over...



Elora only likes the Weihnachts pyramid to be lit for a short time, and then she likes to blow out all the candles. Then it was time to get ready for bed! I made the kids pajamas this year, and they were both so excited about the new jammies that Mommy made. I didn't take a pic on Christmas Eve, Elora wasn't feeling well... but stay tuned for Christmas Day pics! After weeks of asking "Is it Christmas yet?" Elora was excited to have just one more sleep before Santa came!

1 comment:

  1. That is my fav hot chocolate place in Bratislava... called Maximillian or something I think. Cheap and yummy! Their ice cream is great too in summer.

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