It’s been a great (if less than productive) weekend here in Vienna. The weather has warmed up slightly, and more importantly–it’s Christmastime. Now, I know those of you Stateside might protest: after all, it can’t really be Christmastime until after Thanksgiving at the earliest. To which I reply: they don’t do Thanksgiving here, and Halloween is a blip on the radar. It’s been Christmastime since the Wurstlstands (hot dog stands, basically) started selling Glühwein and Punsch.It’s supposed to help make up for the fact that it’s pitch-black by five in the evening. Seriously, guys: that’s depressing.
So a few of us went out to enjoy the holiday cheer and hot drinks down at the Museumsquartier, which is a pretty cool hangout spot. It’s so called because it encompasses several major museums in Vienna: MUMOK (Modern Art), the Kunsthistorisches and Naturhistorisches Museums (which I visited during Long Night of the Museums), and the Leopold Museum (which has the largest collection of Schieles in the world). Fun fact: the Leopold is currently running an exhibit called “Naked Men”, which collects and examines images of male nudity from 1800 to the present. Not unusually for the Leopold, the adverts have caused some controversy around town, consisting as they do of naked men, entirely uncensored.
Either way, the Museumsquartier is popular with young people and artsy types, and is where we went to get into the Christmas spirit. In keeping with its reputation, it had a bit of a nightclub vibe: there was a DJ playing techno music, and colored lights swirling around the square. There were about five or six different huts selling Glühwein and Punsch, each decorated in a different style. The one we visited, called “Halle”, had faux crystal chandeliers, white fur-covered seating, and animal heads sprayed bright orange. They would also light the sugar for your drink on fire before serving it, which was pretty cool. One thing to bear in mind here: the cost you pay for your drink is about 2 Euro higher than what’s listed on the menu. That’s what’s called a Pfand,which is basically a deposit for your mug. When you’re done with your drink, you can turn it in and get your 2 Euro back, or just keep the mug. These mugs were great: mine had an octopus, picking up a man and shaking him.
If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t despair: you too can get into the Christmas spirit. They also sell alcohol-free punch, usually called Kinderpunsch.At Halle, it was an apple-and-pear punch, and it’s also a little less expensive than the rest of the drinks. So, if you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive way to enjoy the holiday season without freezing your toes off (entirely), go grab a glass down at the Museumsquartier.