It is no secret that we like to venture out on the weekends; and with Christmas markets opening across the region, the weekends seem to plan themselves!

Saturday’s itinerary took us to Schloss Krumbach, a former Palffy palace tucked into the Koralpe range of the eastern alps, and to the southwest of Vienna. The palace, like so many, is a wedding destination hotel; there is a palace chapel for the ceremony, beautiful rooms for the reception, and guest rooms for all of the celebrants. Reaching this particular schloss required a 16% grade switchback drive, followed by a short walk from the parking up to the grounds. The effort was worth it.

Perchten roamed the courtyard; while on the inside, the first two floors were devoted to a market for lovers of handcrafted items.

 

 

The small and elegant chapel.

The market and its setting, combined with beautiful scenery on the drive home, made for an ideal Saturday outing.

On Sunday we went east to Slovakia. The International Women’s Club of Bratislava was hosting its annual bazaar in the old market hall, and so we joined hundreds of others in tasting our way around the world, from Kimchee to Carob Soda to Egyptian Christmas cookies and a lot more in between.

Pani Puri, hollow fried Indian bread balls filled with spicy lentils and coriander chutney, is a popular street snack in India.

Ebelskivers on offer from Holland’s table.

At the American table, it was Popcorn and Candy Canes. A little odd, we thought, given the effort put forth by the other countries.

Shots of vodka from the Russian Table…
…and “shots” of Cabbage Soup from the Slovakia Rotary Club table, too.

Near the old market hall was Bratislava’s Christmas market.  Though we were quite stuffed from our international sampling, it was too hard to resist a shared Placky, the deep fried shredded potato pancake and a sausage.

 

Once upon a time, seeing whole animals being roasted would have surprised me. In Central Europe, though, it’s just a regular occurrence. Usually the animals are pigs; this was our first sighting of an entire bull being roasted.

The route home through Austria’s Marchfeld, the fertile plains that contribute most of its fruits and vegetables passes near to a number of palaces worth visiting, and even more so when they are aglow with a holiday market. Schloss Eckartsau is a former Imperial hunting lodge, and also served as the residence of the last Hapsburgs, Emperor Karl and Empress Zita, before they left for exile in 1919.
The market theme was Imperial Christmas, and the main salons were perhaps the most beautifully decorated of any market we have visited. The handcrafted items on offer were among the more exquisite we have seen, as well, and for the first time ever we purchased several ornaments to enhance our own Christmas tree.
The Hirschenzimmer (Deer Room). Did I mention this was a former imperial hunting lodge?

In the courtyard there was, naturally Glühwein to warm one’s spirit, along with this most unusual “Imperial Selfie Station” that we could not figure out.

Our lovely weekend ended with a fire in the fireplace at home, and a Beef Stroganov simmering on the cooktop. The most wonderful time of the year, indeed.