Food, glorious food.

One of the best things we got to do during our Christmas vacation in Budapest and Vienna was eat.  And drink.  Now, don’t get me wrong: Ukrainian food is delicious.  But, there’s a definite lack of ethnic variety around here.  We have pizza places, although the pizza usually consists of a thin crust topped with just the slightest hint of tomatoey sauce.  There are also sushi restaurants, although that’s a bit out of our budget.  As for alcoholic beverages, Ukraine has a variety of beers which are all pretty light and comparable to your basic Bud.  Wine either comes in the “sweet” or “half-sweet” varieties.  And, we’re not exactly the vodka-with-your-dinner type of folks.

Needless to say, after 9 months without good ethnic food, we were super excited about the opportunity to spice up our meals.  On our first night in Budapest, after finally arriving late in the midst of a snowstorm, we made it to a Middle Eastern restaurant not far from our hostel for some kind of delicious schwarma/gyro wrap.  (Not sure exactly what it was, since the menu was in Hungarian.)  It just got better from there, and we have the photos to prove it.  Although these meals may not look special to you, step into our shoes and imagine the enjoyment our taste buds got from a little change of scene.

Let it be said, however, that living for so long with Ukrainian food does leave an impact.  When we finally had some famous wiener schnitzel (veal/pork/chicken pounded flat and breaded, similar to a Ukrainian “cutleta”) at a Vienna pub, Alex’s first remark was, “I hate to say it, but I think this needs some mayonnaise.”

Merry Christmas!

Drinking hot berry punch and hot chocolate to stay warm at the Christmas market.

We’re definitely having a nice time here in Vienna.  We’ve walked around lots of Christmas markets, drunk hot mulled wine, eaten roasted chestnuts, thrown snowballs at statues of random Hofburgs, and gorged ourselves on good food and beer.  Tonight and tomorrow we plan on going to all the Christmas masses we can take, including Christmas morning mass at the Imperial Palace Chapel with the Vienna Boys Choir.  We’re hoping to overdose on the real Christmas spirit, along with some great music.

But, really, we are just trying to distract ourselves from how much we miss our family and friends back home.  We hope you have a warm and Merry Christmas!  We love you!

-Alex and Emma

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Alex eating his first-ever freshly roasted chestnuts.
Emma taunts the crazy tufted-eared squirrels in the Schonbrunn Palace gardens.