We have done a fairly fabulous job at raising our two girls, if I do say so myself. At 13 and 15, they’re (mostly) polite, (hopefully) kind, (usually) well spoken, and (definitely) well travelled. Our first big trip together was in 2009 when we took them,at 3 and 4 years of age, to stay in an apartment in Buenos Aires, Argentina for a month. On the plane, they coloured, read, and watched movies. Lovely!
So when we found ourselves sitting behind two different young families of 4 on 2 x 10 hour trips from Australia to Austria 2 days ago, I wasn’t concerned in the slightest. Travelling with kids can be tough. Tiring. But so rewarding and a great opportunity to learn together and bond. All it takes is some attention, a lot of prep and a lot of snacks.
Three of the four of these kids were feral.
Family #1 on our Australia to Beijing leg had two gorgeous little boys. White blonde hair, around 2 and 3. Super cute! 2yo kid screamed the whole flight. Dad watched movies throughout. Mum (who earlier had 5 of the cabin crew gathered around her as she told them she was going to set up her car seat for her kid, and became agro when she was told that was actually not allowed and that the flight would be held up if she didn’t let the crew stow the seat elsewhere) tried to calm him a couple of times, but checked out instead. Older Chinese passengers eyeballed and pointed at the shrieking child, which of course would not have helped her, or the kid.
Family #2 on the Beijing to Zurich leg had two adorable kids with springy orange curls, aged 3 and 5. Dad watched movies throughout. Mum murmured “Sit down now. Sit down now. Sit down now”, as their two children bounced around on their chairs, asked our two “what’s your name” at least 100 times, and sprayed food across the cabin for the whole flight.
Guess which family of 4 arrived in Vienna veeeery tired.
We managed to get ourselves to our apartment in Rossauer Lande, even after 2 delayed flights, navigating the confusing rail info at the airport and dragging our luggage around, at exactly 4pm to meet our host. (TIP, do not take the fancy CAT train into town. That was supposed to be 12 euro pp, and we got in via 2 local trains, 13 euro for all of us),
Our first tastes of Vienna were at their biggest Christmas market, Christkindlmarkt at Rathausplatz . Cute little timber stalls selling toys, cured meats, beeswax candles, Christmas decorations, enormous pretzels and sweets were set up in front of the Rathaus (City Hall). Trees are filled with lights, and the chilly air carries the spicy scent of the gluhwein (mulled wine) sold at various stalls around the market.
You pay for the mug and drink for 8 euros, but can then get your cup refilled at any of the stalls for an extra 4 euros. Groups gathered around tables sipping various flavours (orange, berry, amaretto, Cam’s SUPER strong Jagermeister), or wandering through the markets with their hands wrapped around their mugs to keep warm. The girls had the non-alcoholic “kinder punsch” instead.
For dinner we ate delicious tomato or pumpkin soup and goulash served up in huge bread roll bowls. Dessert was vanilla custard filled krapfen (puffy doughnuts).
These markets were a nice intro to Christmas markets, but it was VERY tourist-heavy. I’m not sure I heard one person speaking German there! There were LOTS of loud Italians, Russian women in red lipstick, and Japanese couples filming each other eating different food. The family that took a photo for us was from Cyprus. Everyone was there to experience Austria, but the irony was that it seemed to be almost an international interpretation of what an Austrian Christmas market was SUPPOSED to be like! The Austrian food stalls were fabulous, and while there were a few genuine hand-made gift/craft stalls, a lot of them had the same “Made in China” gear you find at the markets back home.
It felt lovely being shivery cold, and snuggled up in layers after coming from a smoke and heat-heavy Australia.
We were in bed by 8. Full, festive, and exhausted.