Night photos and video of Christmas lights and some of the beautiful architecture in Vienna.

The Vienna Opera House

Saint Stephens Cathedral. Our hotel was very close however we never got into St Stephens. The crowd was enormous.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral has borne witness to many important events in Habsburg and Austrian history and has, with its multi-coloured tile roof, become one of the city’s most recognizable symbols.Central Vienna, the area around St Stephens, was incredibly crowded the entire time we were there. I asked a local guy if it was always like this or just at Christmas and he said always. He may have thought I was talking about the restaurant we were in on our final night. That’s where I asked him the question. It was a country style restaurant, simple food, great atmosphere and a woman playing the zither.

The Austrian National Library. I like this photo.

These last two are the Hofburg. The Habsburg dynasty palace.

So many Christmas markets in Vienna. We saw a few of them. The one at Maria Theresa Platz was extremely crowded.

Notes: Dinner at an Italian restaurant near St Stephens Cathedral with Judy, Keith and Cynthia. I felt pretty sick but had a great dinner of chicken in mushroom sauce.

I skipped the last morning tour to see the crowns and jewels. I walked around and checked out the architecture and statues and had good coffee and pastries. That’s what I do.


Melk Abbey

Girls in the window at the Abbey School waving.

The Abbey. It was very cold that day. Nice tour of the Abbey, very cold inside as well, and the guide spent a lot of time locking and unlocking doors. I remember that. After the tour we walked into town and had some nice hot goulash. I remember that.

Joanie, Judy and Candra. Cold but happy! Abbey. Abbey.



One of the highlights of the trip was being in Hallstatt for Krampusnacht. It did not disappoint! I took a ton of great video of the scene but it’s hard to upload larger videos. This is one of the Krampuses appearing on the roof.

To everyone’s surprise the first Krampus appears in the crowd. Be careful. Be very careful. Then another, and another. Now there are about a dozen, maybe fifteen Krampuses who have infiltrated the the crowd, scaring people, whipping their legs.

Krampus is an old European tradition and these days the kids and everyone else has fun with it. The short version is that Saint Nicholas appears near the end of the night and saves the day. All the Krampuses are “neutralized” by the loving, generous and giving spirit of Saint Nicholas. They then give photo opportunities to everyone. It’s a great production.
In the old days Krampus would actually whip the bad children on the legs and raise welts. A nice shop lady who grew up here told me it was all true. The children really feared December 5th. Im sorry I forgot to ask her why the parents allowed them out of the house. It was a different time. She’s not permanently scarred physically or psychologically. Read about it, or better yet go and experience it!


Hallstatt, Austria

Hotel Grüner Baum (Green Tree) is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in, I think. Everything was great, the room was really large (a suite in front facing the town square where Krampusnacht took place). Our balcony was the small one on the far left (2nd floor American, 1st floor European). The hotel restaurant was also fantastic. We had fresh whole trout and it was awesome.

Hotel Grüner Baum

Church graveyard.

This idyllic little village is there in the mountains because the oldest salt mine in the world is located up the mountain by the lake, 7000 years old. The area is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Read about the oldest staircase in the world which dates to 1344BC.

We walked around the village through the narrow winding cobblestone streets. The old church was beautiful and I was alone in there. I looked at every grave in the church yard. They are all unique with beautiful statues, stones, and flowers. I also had a very interesting conversation with a shopkeeper….coming up….

These beautiful sheep were at a self sufficient farm near Hallstatt where they made organic cheeses, jams, juices and many other things.


Mozart Dinner Concert

* The Mozart Dinner Concert was in Salzburg. I haven’t figured out how it got out of order on the timeline or how I can put it back in the right place….

We attended the Mozart Operas at the Baroque Hall at St. Peter Stiftskulinarium Restaurant. The Mozart Dinner Concert takes place in the unique and historic atmosphere of St. Peter Stiftskulinarium.

The Baroque Hall – with its stucco and frescoes – is a magnificent showpiece. St. Peter is part of the famous Benedictine monastery and is located in the oldest part of Salzburg. The Baroque Hall is one of the last concert halls in Salzburg where real candle light is still permitted.

St. Peter Stiftskulinarium itself is the oldest restaurant in Europe first mentioned in 803. Even the Mozart family ate dinner here. In October 1783, Mozart´s sister “Nannerl” wrote in her diary: “Papa and Henry had lunch at St. Peter… made music … rained heavily.”

The singers and musicians were real professionals. The dinner was excellent. The male lead came into the audience and selected Candra from our table to dance. She did an amazing job and kept her composure. This night was really special in a really special place.

It was also the night I thought I had lost Joanies scarf. Our hotel was quite a ways from the dinner. After dinner, halfway home, I realized I didn’t have the scarf, a very nice scarf. So we ran back through alleys and courtyards and got a little lost, finally finding the place, hoping they hadn’t locked up. The wait staff was cleaning up and I found the scarf under the table we had been sitting at. One guy said “If you left it here, it would always be here until you came for it”. Another guy joked “Or on eBay!” So I survived.

Downstairs restaurant.

During the Christmas season the Baroque Hall shines in festive decoration and the joyful anticipation of Advent and Christmas will be awakened.