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I have to apologize in advance for the number of photos in this post. I remember when I visited Vienna for the first time in the summer of 2001, I was so fascinated with the city’s architecture that I took about 400 photos a day with my digital camera (2MP!). This time around, I made good use of my DSLR camera with a nice wide angle lens trying to capture the beauty of this city in wintertime.

A visit to Vienna should probably start on the Ringstraße, which is a circular ring surrounding the Innere Stadt (old town). Many of Vienna’s most important buildings are all along the Ringstraße, including the famous opera house, Parliament building, city hall and more. City hall also hosts the largest Christmas market in the city center, the other is at Schönbrunn Palace, which is only a short subway ride from city center.

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Because the weather was freezing cold – and it snowed a few times with heavy winds – I had to make a stop at Cafe Landtmann to get myself something to drink and experience the Viennese coffee culture. It is said that Landtmann started the coffee culture back when it opened in 1873.

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Finally I arrived at city hall (which is really diagonally across the street from the cafe). Because it was still early, there weren’t too many people, so I had a chance to walk around a bit. There are many stands along with children’s play areas. My plan was to come back in the evening to take some photos when the lights are illuminated.

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So I took the subway out to Schönbrunn Palace, and the market there was just packed with locals and visitors alike. There was a giant Christmas tree just in front of the palace; Christmas flair was in the air. When sunset came around 4:30 in the afternoon, the lights of the palace was lit and the markets were in full swing. I actually headed to the back of the palace to get away from the crowds, and take a few more photos of the gardens in the dark with my tripod. It was still very windy and cold… but nevertheless I was happy with the results.

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I returned to city hall to find LOTS of people everywhere. People braved the cold weather (or it’s really just me as I am from California) to come and enjoy a fun night out. It was Friday night and you can’t go wrong with some Glühwein (hot wine) or Punsch (punch) – you just can’t.

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The next day was just spent wandering the city, starting with the Saturday flea market at Naschmarkt, the largest market in the city. It was still a very windy day (it wasn’t til later in the evening that I was told that Vienna in general is very windy due to the fact it’s flatland). People were selling all kinds of stuff, but mostly clothes and porcelainware.

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I then kept walking north toward Neubau, a more trendy district with design shops and more. It also includes the Mariahilfer Straße, which is a major shopping street in Vienna. There were also other smaller Christmas markets along the side streets, and they too were full of people. Very cool stuff. I definitely want to spend more time in this part of the city next time.

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Oh yes, I had to mention that I also visited the Kunst Haus Wien (or Hundertwasserhaus). I really just went to take photos of the outside as I’ve visited the building last time I was in Vienna. Just had to take some photos with my wide angle lens. Sounds silly I know, but it’s a must.

Well, it’s time to say Auf Wiedersehen. Off to the airport in about ten minutes to the final destination on this trip: Geneva.

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