To be honest, we really love Vienna’s Christmas markets. However, with the internet being flooded by articles about how charming and romantic these crowded markets are, we thought we’d try playing the grinch for this article and make a list of the things we hate about Vienna’s Christmas markets.
We mean, aren’t they just cold, money-driven retail machines dressed up at St. Nikolaus? Casting a spell on us with their cinnamon smelling air, and their – literally – billions of stupid fairy lights strung up in trees. Anyway, here goes – here’s why we hate (swallowing hard) Vienna’s Christmas markets:
1. The damn expensive tourist prices on everything
We’ve all been there – that situation where you order a round of Glühweins, hand over a 50 € note and only get coins in return. And all you can do is have your mouth hanging wide open in response to the friendly smile from the person behind the stand.
Like, ok, you can charge the tourists your high prices, but you could cut a special deal with us locals on this mass-produced Glühwein that you get delivered in huge 10l plastic bottles. Yeah, we’ve seen you glug-glug-glugging it into your big heating urn pots when you think nobody’s looking.
And for those touting their Punsch and Glühwein is organic and handmade, what you’re pretty much saying is I could of made it with my own hands, at home, and saved myself the 4 €. And don’t get us started on the whole mug deposit deal. You think I want to steal your Santa-boot-shaped mug?!
2. How people are constantly bumping into you and making you spill your Punsch
Us, every 10 minutes at a Christmas market: sure, buddy, just give me a good side swipe with your arm as you walk past me while I’m holding a steaming hot liquid in my hand. The burns will heal, or not. But hey, Merry, F*cking Christmas.
3. The endless waves of bus tourists they inspire
When we spot the umbrella, or the branded flag on a stick, we want to run. Run in the opposite direction and climb a lamp post, or a tree. We’re, sorry, we’re gonna’ say it – bus tourists are the worst. They move in large numbers and seem to be blind to their surroundings. All they see is that flag, or umbrella, that they blindly follow into the crowds of the Christmas markets. Well, that and anything worth selfie-ing themselves in front of.
It’s become a hobby of ours to go to the markets just to ruthlessly photo bomb their selfie shots. It’s our form of rebellion. Don’t get us wrong – we like tourists. We’ve also been one on the odd occasion. It’s the fact that, granted, this city may look like a fairy tale kind of place to them at this festive time of year, but to us, it’s where we live our miserable daily existence. Welcome to Vienna.
4. The sugary headache after you drink that last mug of Glühwein that turns out to be one too many
It brought so much joy when it was accompanying the good laughs, and when we were warming our hands around it. But then, when the sugary headache creeps in the next day, you’ll hear us muttering under our hangover-stink-infused breath – damn you, you sweet, sweet burgundy temptress.
5. How you can never peel your Maroni (chestnut) properly and they always burn your fingers while you’re trying
You know how a couple of years back Billa brought out peeled bananas in plastic packaging? That’s what we demand of our Maroni man.
Maroni always seem like a good idea, but then it comes to peeling them. And, because the smell of them makes it hard to wait patiently for them to cool, you try to peel them, even though they’re hot as hell and burn your fingers. Then you fail, and some thin and furry part of the shell stays on the soft brain-looking nut inside. However, by this point, you’ve given up with the Maroni… and life, so you eat it, anyway. And the chestnut tastes like somebody’s unshaven testicle. Wait…what?
6. The guilt-trip you go on every time you look at a stand’s stuff, but then don’t buy anything and ghost the vendor
‘Hmmm, I’ve got to think about it. I’ll come back.’ – we’ve all said this to some poor stall vendor and known very well that there was no way in hell we were coming back to buy that beeswax candle.
Why the hell would we? Why would we want to have a candle that we’d be tempted to eat?! That’s just plain dangerous!
Anyway, the expression on the stand owner’s face makes us feel guilty every time. There they are, looking out at you like the little baby Yoda, and you’re lying to their face, saying you’ll be back. But they know. They know, alright. They’ll never see your lying, guilt-ridden face again.
7. When you want to look at something at a stand and there’s always a bunch of people blocking your way
Without fail – out of the corner of the eye, you’ll spot some bloody hat made out of vegan, organic, alpaca wool that you think your mum might like (well, she probably won’t, but what else can you get her) and just as you’re approaching the stand to have a look, a swarm of people surround the stand, blocking your way. And then your poor mum will never get that alpaca hat that she probably would have hated.
8. All the useless sh*t you end up buying and then asking yourself WHY?! when you get home
Seriously, last Christmas market we were at, we spotted a bunch of hollowed out, misshaped wooden rings being sold at a stand full of those homey Christmas decorations that make you feel all fuzzy on the inside when you’re at somebody else’s home that’s decorated with them, but when you try to decorate your own apartment with them, after 10 minutes you end up feeling like a loser and wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life.
Anyway, we asked the stand vendor what the wooden things were and he said they were in the shape of hearts. OK, we could see it in some of them, but many of them looked more like they were in the shape of headless chickens. But, us being us, we thought to ourselves – well, our heart feels oddly shaped – and so we bought one of the wooden hearts. It didn’t take us long – on the way home, we looked at it, muttered ‘WTF?!’ and hung it on a random tree.
At another market, we stopped for a second to look at a bunch of smooth wooden bowls. There was an old couple sitting behind the stand. We went to move on, but the old man caught our gaze and smiled. F*ck. We smiled back at the sweet old looking man. He struggled out of his chair and gingerly approached us. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. This guy had to be 80. We knew what was coming next.
‘I made them all myself,’ he told us. His wife nodded proudly. ‘Yep, he spends hours in our garage making them.’
Ah, fuckadoodle-doo. We were buying one of these whether we liked it, or not.
‘How much is this one?’ we asked.
’80€’ he answered. Holy F*ck. 80€ for a wooden bowl?! Can I even eat cereal out of a wooden bowl?!
‘Anything cheaper?’ I blurted out. He kept his sweet smile burning and showed me one that was split down the bottom for 30 €.
Now, we have a wooden bowl with a split in it at home. We put a candle in it.
9. The crowds crammed into the market alleyways
Moving through a Christmas market can be likened to food trying to work its way through your intestines on Christmas Eve when you overeat. The heavy meats and fish, and all the Christmas cookies, all competing for space, crowded into your narrow intestine, working their way towards the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what shuffling through A Christmas market is like.
10. They tease us by making one month of winter bearable and the others look like the set of Peaky Blinders
OK, so if you’re not bingeing Peaky Blinders on Netflix right now, it’s not bad. You should check it out. #netflixnosponsorus.
Anyway, the set of this series set in Birmingham, England, is pretty much one very dull, grey street. Mud everywhere, no happiness in sight. So it pretty much looks as dark and miserable as our souls when writing this article.
And outside of the Christmas season, Vienna looks like this Peaky Blinders street. And that’s what we’re saying – for a limited time only, the Christmas markets make the grey winter bearable, and some say – not us, of course – that they let off a special cheery vibe in the air. But only for about a month! Then they leave us with the grey streets of winter for several more months and all we can do is wait for spring in a somewhat depressive state of despair.
It just makes January and February look like trash, which we think is kind of unfair.