Our Top 5 Christmas Markets in Salzburg

It’s almost that time of the year again. I don’t know about you but I certainly love that month before Christmas when it’s starting to get a little colder outside, maybe a few first snowflakes have fallen. The city has it’s light decorations on. I can hear the Christmas songs from the ice skate track around the corner and when I walk through the city, the lovely smell of Glühwein follows me around.

It also means, it is time for the Christmas Markets again!

And Salzburg does really have a couple of beautiful ones to offer. Here are the ones I like best:

Advent Magic in Hellbrunn

From November 22 to December 24

One of the most romantic Christmas Markets is definitely the Hellbrunner Adventzauber in the courtyard of the castle.

Polaroid Of Christmas OrnamentsDuring the Advent time, an enchanted forest with over 400 coniferous trees is created around the castle, decorated with 13.000 red glitter balls and fairy lights. A must see!

Advent Market St.Peter Stiftskulinarium

From November 16 to January 6

The Advent Market in St. Peter is honestly my favorite! When you enter through the stone arch decorated from floor to ceiling with dark green fir branches and fairy lights, you truly have the feeling of entering into another world.

The decoration is made with so much love to detail and magical lights everywhere. This one is not really a market but it does have a delicious Glühwein to offer and sometimes you’ll hear a live band playing and singing in the courtyard. Truly a unique experience!

Advent Market at Franziskischlössl

From December 1 to December 30

The Franziskischlössl is located up on one of Salzburg’s house mountains, the Kapuzinerberg. It’s a really nice and cozy atmosphere up there! During the Advent time, they’ve a little market in their courtyard with local Austrian food products and regional craft works. You can either take a walk up the mountain or take the shuttle that leaves regularly from the entrance on Linzergasse.

Please check the opening hours before going up there. The market is only open on weekends, Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 6pm.

Advent Market in the Hohensalzburg (castle) courtyard

From November 22 to December 24

The Advent Market on Hohensalzburg has been part of the pre-Christmas celebrations in Salzburg since over 20 years now. Up on Mönchsberg (another one of Salzburg’s house mountains), under the linden trees in the courtyard of Hohensalzburg, this market has a very special atmosphere.

Salzburg’s Christmas Market

From November 22 to December 26

Taking place on the Dome and Residenz Square, this Christkindlmarkt is the biggest and oldest one in Salzburg. It has already been around for a very long time – earliest mentions go all the way back to the 15th century!

Nutcracker at Christkindlmarkt Salzburg

Photo by Rob Young on Foter.com / CC BY

In the form like it’s known today, it was first hold in 1974. There’s a great program scheduled every day. One of the highlights is the famous “Turmblasen” every Saturday where the tower blasters stand on three towers around the Residenz Square, playing Christmas songs.

You are interested in exploring Austrian Christmas markets with a vintage Polaroid camera? Join us for a tour in Vienna or inquire a private one in Salzburg or Graz!

Why Santiago should be more than just a pit-stop

Santiago is an exciting and vibrant metropolitan capital city that is definitely worth your time to explore. While most visitors fly into Santiago and use the city as a pit-stop before heading to the extreme corners of the country, there is plenty to offer for adventure and culture seekers alike.

Here are just a few reasons why you should add a couple of days in the city to your Chile visit and see for yourself why Santiago should be more than just a pit-stop:

Hills in Santiago

Skyline Santiago de Chile from the hillsThe city was built in a valley so that means it’s surrounded with the Andes and Coastal mountain range. If you’re visiting during the winter, you can’t miss out heading towards Farellones to one of the three ski resorts. A must do is climbing San Cristobal Hill for the best view of the city. Santa Lucia Hill is the heart of the Santiago where the city was born and every day at noon you can hear a cannon “el Cañonazo”, a tradition in the city that’s worth experiencing at least once.

Markets

This is a must-do on your list while visiting Santiago because it’s the best way to really see how Chileans live normally every day. La Vega is the largest fruit and veggies market. Mercado Central is the best place to get fresh fish. If you want to find the fanciest antiquities and knick-knacks then Persa Bio-Bio is your place to visit, especially on the weekends.

Wineries

Vineyard Santiago de ChileThe central region of Chile is wine country. Just in the Maipo Valley, you can find over 30 wineries to visit. Ranging from massive global brands to small boutique wineries that use wooden barrels and hand-pick their grapes. The Casablanca Valley is also close by on your way to Viña del Mar or Valparaiso that has incredible wineries worth going for a day trip to.

Santiago Street Art

Santiago’s street art scene is growing and is totally worth spending a day exploring it. Nothing to compare to Valparaiso but definitely take a spin around the Bellavista and Bellas Artes neighborhood. If you’re a fan of large murals then you must take the time to visit Santiago’s open-air museum right outside the subway station Departamental (yellow line 2) in the San Miguel neighborhood to explore over 40 spectacular murals painted by Chilean and International Artist. Editor’s note: You can do that on the Santiago Urban tourStreet Art Santiago de Chile

Museums

Santiago has a number of great options to spend a couple of hours to an entire day in. The best part is that most, if not all, are free. The Gabriela Mistral Cultural Center always has interesting activities all year round and the National Fine Arts Museum is the oldest museum in whole South America with an impressive collection of Chilean art. Tip: Remember that all museum are closed on Mondays so make sure you plan accordingly.

Downtown Santiago

Downtown Santiago is filled with history and beautiful buildings that any aficionado can definitely appreciate the architecture in the city. Start your morning at Plaza de Armas, the main square in Santiago, and check out the Central Post Office Building inside. It’s amazing. Later, explore downtown and make your way towards La Moneda, which was once used to make all of the countries coins and is now the seat of the President of the Republic of Chile.

Cajon del Maipo

Cajon del Maipo

This place is for any outdoor lover. The Cajon del Maipo is just an hour away from Santiago and has everything from hiking trails, glaciers, white water rafting, and even natural hot springs. Come out for the day or even spend a couple of days enjoying the natural beauty just outside the city.

Are you convinced yet? These are just the basics to cover a couple of days in Santiago before heading to the other amazing areas throughout Chile.

There is so much more the city has to offer that will surprise you and exceed your expectations.

About the author: Andrea is running the independent news site Today in Chile. You can also follow her on Instagram.

Untersberg – A Mystic Mountain

The stunning Untersberg in the background of the picture below is one of Salzburg’s six house mountains, always a nice companion when you take a walk on Mönchsberg (another one of Salzburg’s house mountains where the big fortress Festung Hohensalzburg is built on). The mountain is so massive that you can almost always catch a glimpse on it.

Untersberg - View from Mönchsberg

Untersberg – View from Mönchsberg

The magic of this special mountain

For me, this mountain has so much power, always has, since I’ve been living here, even before I found out all these magical things, myths and stories about it.

When the Dalai Lama was visiting Salzburg in 1992, he apparently said that the Untersberg is the Heart Chakra of Europe, some even say it’s the Heart Chakra of the World. Now to all of you who are not so much into spirituality 😉

Chakras are energy points along our spine. There are seven main ones and one of them is situated where the heart is, the Heart Chakra.

Now, I can’t say that much about this fact but I know from my own experiences that this mountain truly has some magical powers.

Untersberg - View from Mönchsberg in Winter

Untersberg – View from Mönchsberg in Winter

My favorite Story about the Untersberg

As mentioned above, there are many more myths and stories around the Untersberg. One of my favorite ones is the story about.

“The Lost Wedding Group”

Many years ago, a rich farmers couple and a small group of people were on their way from one village (St. Leonhard) to another one (Grödig) to celebrate their wedding party at the parents house of the bride. Everyone was in a good mood and the musicians they had with them played some music while they were walking towards the Untersberg.

Untersberg - On the way up

Untersberg – On the way up

Then someone of the group started to tell a story about an emperor and his army who had disappeared in this area. Ever since this event, it’s said that ghosts appear in this area and give presents to rovers.

As soon as the story was told, the groom started to call for the ghost to ask him to give them a present. All of the sudden, the mountain opened and a small man with silver-white hair appeared. The man pointed to a door which leads into the mountain.

Food & drinks in the mountain

Untersberg - View towards Störhaus

Untersberg – View towards Störhaus

The whole wedding group followed him until they arrived at a beautiful room. There was a big set up table full of delicious food and drinks. The engaged couple and the rest of the group sit down to eat and drink. After the meal, as they had been eating and drinking a little bit too much, they required a little nap. Still seated at the table, they all slept for quite some time.

 

When they woke up again, the mountain ghost showed them the way outside. It was daylight when they reappeared on the surface of the mountain again.

They had a look around and noticed that with the time they had spent in the mountain, everything had changed. The people living in the village close by didn’t speak their language anymore, it seemed like they had arrived in a whole different country.

The Wake Up After The Sleep

Untersberg - View on the way down from Störhaus

Untersberg – View on the way down from Störhaus

Even after a couple of days of walking, when they finally arrived in their known village, it didn’t seem like home anymore. At the place where their houses had been standing before, there were other houses built now.

They went to the priest of the village and told him everything what had happened. The priest opened his books and actually found an article where it said that 500 years ago, a young engaged couple, along with a group of people got lost in the area and had never been seen again.

I just love this story as it a great reflection of all the myths and stories about time loop wholes and other magical things happening on and around the Untersberg. If this is all true? Well, who knows… for my part, I love to believe in stories and myths that are beyond any logical reach.

Learn more about Salzburg

If you want to have a look at the mountain and hear some more stories about it, come for a visit to Salzburg. We’ll get a good look at it on our walking tour through the city. From a safe distance of course 😉

Five Hidden Gems in Barcelona

Discover this vibrant city off the beaten track

Barcelona is one of the most popular city destinations in Europe attracting millions of tourists each year, but the city still has a host of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Today we want to share our favorite spots  in Barcelona with you that are off the beaten track (at least sort of 😉).

Carmel Bunkers

Once upon a time, the Carmel Bunkers really were off the beaten track. But year after year the bunkers became more known and today it is a famous viewpoint over the city. What you get there are panoramic views of Barcelona from the Spanish Civil War bunkers where anti-aircraft guns were installed.

View from Carmel Bunkers Barcelona

View from Carmel Bunkers in Barcelona, Spain – Photo by Zach Marzouk on Trend Hype / CC BY

What’s great about the Bunkers is that they are free of charge.

For more information on how to arrive go here.

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau

The Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau is not a Gaudí structure and hence not as well known as many other buildings in the city. But it is just as beautiful and impressive.

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau

Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau

It is Europe’s largest art nouveau complex and was a public hospital until 2009.

Here you can find more information on this Art Nouveau Site, including opening hours and directions.

La Xampanyeria

La Xampanyeria (from Can Paixano) was founded in 1969 and in our opinion it is a must-see during your visit. If you want to have great Cava and Tapas, this is the place to go. The original Xampanyeria is in Carrer de la Reina Cristina and usually packed, you might have to wait to get inside. But it is worth it. Enjoy a glass (or bottle) of the amazing Can Paixano Cava while having some Tapas at the counter.

Check out the Can Paixano website for more information.

Encants Flea Market

Els Encants is not only Barcelona’s biggest, but also its oldest flea market. Over 500 vendors gather here to sell everything from vintage clothes, jewelry, accessories, furniture and antiques.

Encants Market Barcelona

Encants Market in Glòries

You can find some amazing deals here if you have the time to look for them. Or if you prefer to just get the feeling of it you can just stroll through the stalls and enjoy this great location. Pro-Tip: We visit the market during our “The New” Barcelona Polaroid tour.

For more Information visit the Encants Website.

Parque del Laberinto de Horta

Horta’s Labyrinth Park is Barcelona’s oldest conserved garden in a Romantic style.

As its name promises already: It is a labyrinth. You have to find your way threw the park’s labyrinth which is made from cypress hedges. What do you think, how long will it take you to go tot he centre and back outside?

You can find more information on opening hours and directions here.

A Visitor’s Guide to Bikeshares in Washington, DC

 

If you take a walk in downtown Washington, DC, you can’t help but notice all the bicycles! DC has become a bike-friendly city with more than 80 miles of bike lanes.

Visiting the city and want to feel the wind on your face? Bike sharing makes it easy to explore the city on two wheels.

There are at least seven bikeshare companies with wheels on the DC roads today, including 3-speed bikes, electric-assist bicycles, and electric scooters. There are two types of bikeshares: docking and dockless.

Ranked by how easy it is for a visitor to start pedaling, here are the options to hit the road under your own power.

Top 7 Bike Sharing Services in Washington, DC

Capital Bikeshare docking station

1. Capital Bikeshare (docking bikes)

Capital Bikeshare’s docking bicycles are the most convenient for visitors. To use one, all you need is a credit card. And they are easy to find! There are more than 500 docking stations in the Capital Bikeshare system, which extends beyond the city limits into the DC metro area. You can return the bike to any dock in the system — no round trip necessary! Rent a Capital Bikeshare bike for $2 for a trip under 30 minutes, or $8 for a day pass. Visit the website for suggested scenic rides if you want to do more than get from Point A to Point B. You can also download the app to your smartphone, but you do not need a Capital Bikeshare account to use their bikes.

Read more

The Butterfly House

Rainy Days in Vienna

 

Sadly not all days on a trip are blessed by blue skies and sunshine. The very best conditions for an Instant Tour around town. But sometimes we are out of luck and it rains. A lot. What to do? You are on a trip, in wonderful Vienna. Therefore sitting in a your hotel room isn’t really an option. That’s what this series of tips is all about.

Our other tips:

What are some good things to do in Vienna on a rainy day? Good question. This is our second tip:

Butterfly House in the Vienna Burggarten

 

Polaroid Butterfly House Vienna Burggarten

Visit the imperial Butterfly House in the Hofburg’s Burggarten, very close to the State Opera House.

Butterfly House

Inside the Butterfly House in Vienna’s Imperial Palace (Hofburg)

The National Library

Exploring a treasure on a rainy day

 

We all know, not all vacation days are blessed by blue skies and sunshine. The very best conditions for exploring a city with us. But sometimes we are out of luck and it rains cats and dogs. What to do? You are on vacation, in lovely Vienna – so sitting in a boring hotel room isn’t really an option. That’s what this series of tips is all about.

Our other tips:

What are some good things to do in Vienna on a rainy day? Good question. This is our first tip:

State hall of the Austrian national library

 

Austrian National Library

Photo credit: Manfred Morgner / Foter / CC BY-SA

Visit the magnificent state hall of the national library at Josefsplatz 1, 1010 Vienna. It’s a baroque historic library that was founded by emperor Charles VI in the 18th century and designed by famous court architect Johann Bernhard Fischer von Erlach.

Globe at state hall of the national library

Globe at the state hall
Photo credit: Manfred Morgner / Foter / CC BY-SA

In addition you can visit the Globe, the Papyrus and the Esperanto museum. The admission to the state hall is 8 EUR and there’s a reduced price for the combination-ticket.