Friday, December 6, 2013

A Tale of Two Markets

Right now, you can't swing a schwein schnitzel in Vienna without hitting a Christmas Market and the scenery is beautiful.  However, I've also discovered the same vendors hock their trinkets at multiple markets, which is probably why I now head straight for the food and drink huts (ok…..mainly drink)  instead of the shopping.  Listen, if you've seen market after market full of huts selling the same wooden toys, alpaca wool socks and ceramic frog salt & pepper shakers, you would shout "drink please!" too.

Last weekend was different.

We discovered 2 markets worth keeping on the list for next year at Stilwerk Design Galerie Wien and the Mittelalterlicher Adventmarkt at The Arsenal.  Consider these two the "polar" opposites of Christmas Markets in Vienna.

Normally, Stilwerk Design Galerie is a multi-level mall filled with stores catering to the avant garde of Vienna's contemporary minimalist, modern and mid-mod interior design for every room of the home.  One could outfit a bare apartment from studs to reveal with one visit to Stilwerk.  During weekends in December, the shops and individual artists display their wares for the Christmas season.  It was lovely to wander the mall, surrounded in warmth and beauty, looking at all of the displays and shops.  Inspiration everywhere!

A return to the Middle Ages was waiting for us at The Arsenal.  Cauldrons of bubbling wine and rotisseries of meat filled the cold air with the smell campfire vittles.  This market was a 9 year old boy's dream:  handmade swords, shields, knives, slingshots, bows and arrows.  We told Jake he could buy a weapon if he would dress up with Mom and Dad in the "Robin Hood, Maid Marian and Friar Tuck" costumes for sale.  Surprisingly and lucky for us, he declined.  The food at this market was spectacular, the vibe Middle Ages and the artisans turning wooden furniture legs on "people powered" machinery fun to watch.  It is a shame this Market only runs for 4 days.  I would return for more and probably end up with both a costume and slingshot.

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