TRAVEL: Celebrating in Vienna

After finding out the results of my Christmas Eve pregnancy scan, my husband booked a break to Vienna to see in the new year. We needed some time away to relax after all the worry we’d gone through and there was nowhere more magical than Vienna at that time of year.

Our hotel, the Mercure Hotel Josefshof, was situated in the Josefstadt District and was only a short walk from City Hall Square and the Old City. It proved an excellent choice as there were times when I was overwhelmed with aches and pains, nausea and tiredness and needed a quick nap.

During our stay, we took in the sights, sounds and smells of the city, the Hofburg palace, seat of the Habsburgs, Cafe Central, Wiener Prater, the art galleries and festive street markets. There was a never-ending wealth of things to do and see.

We also looked on as every man…and his dog took to the streets for the annual New Year’s Eve run around the city. It was an amazing spectacle and reminded me of our very own Great North Run.

On New Year’s Eve, we took up the New Year’s Eve Trail in the Old City, first by horse and carriage to get our bearings and then by foot. As we walked through the Old City taking in the magnificent Baroque architecture, there were dozens of gastronomes serving culinary treats, mulled wine and (best of all) non-alcoholic gluhwein. Numerous stages dotted around the old city provided musical entertainment with something to suit all tastes from pop and classical to rock music.

We dined at Fromme Helene in Josefstaedter Strasse, which was close to our hotel and seemingly busy with locals (a good sign). Once inside, we were met by really friendly, warm and hospitable staff. The decor was cosy and it offered a great range of reasonably-priced, traditional Austrian dishes. It’s fair to say that this restaurant serves one of the finest schnitzels in Vienna. A really large portion was delivered to our table with a side of some potatoes and salad. The schnitzel was really good and the sides worked perfectly with the crusted meat. It’s well worth a visit!

We then headed back along to City Hall Square (Rathausplatz) to welcome in 2016. Despite the freezing temperature, the cold weather didn’t prove to be a damper. The area was crammed with stalls selling food and drink and festive gifts and it’s fair to say that it was crowded, but not overwhelmingly so for a pregnant lady. I certainly ate my fair share of cinnamon-coated waffles and glugged down plenty of alcohol-free gluhwein during the evening.


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