Snow Dreams at the MuseumsQuartier

The Smells of Hot Punch, Cinnamon and Roasted Almonds Make Winter Seem Almost Real

I nestle deep into my new sheepskin winter coat, which is actually managing to keep out the icy wind blowing through Vienna’s streets. The Ring Strassenbahn is just arriving as I cross the busy street. Two stops later I leave the warmth of the car and step out into the cold. But at least it’s not raining and so the short walk to the Museumsquartier, where I am set to meet my friend, is refreshing rather than exhausting.

Standing by the traffic light opposite the MQ’s main entrance, a tune seems to  come from nowhere.  “A beautiful sight, we’re happy tonight, walking in a winter wonderland!” The cheery music booms from loudspeakers by the Maria Theresien-Platz animating visitors sipping their Glühwein at the ‘Weihnachts Dorf.’ Maybe later, I thought. Right now, my destination is just opposite in the Museumsquartier.

Though the grey streets look nothing like a winter wonderland, my spirits are high as I slender through the Christmas tree lined arch of the museum’s quarters. Appearing in front of my eyes is indeed a wonderland of sorts — just without the snow! Pretty little red huts with glistening lighs fill the grand plaza. One of them has a glass façade, illuminating three deejays who are filling the air with funky remixed classics, like Bing Crosby’s ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’

The cool air smells of delicious hot punch, cinnamon and roasted almonds. Next to the stands, a curling skating rink has been constructed with young and old gathered around. A steaming pot of Glühwein (my first this year!) warms my fingers, as I stand by the edge of the rink to watch.

Two mixed groups of Viennese are battling each other in curling, but also in verbal hurling; laughing, shouting, commenting, their speech slightly slurred from the hot wine, they slide across the ice on their leather loafers, holding their Barbour coated bellies, giggling.

We are all yearning for snow, magically settling on the city and bringing with it  the ‘Christmas Feeling.’ And yet, it’s just not about snow, but about the general excitement of the holidays to come. A time where we yearn for warmth in every sense; Glühwein to warm our hands and stomachs; carols to remind us of our childhood, and the wish for love and friendship to warm our hearts.

Standing in the courtyard of the MuseumsQuartier, I feel suddenly lucky to be living in Vienna, which continually overwhelms me with beauty and a sense of possibilities: The picturesque Christmas markets offering drinks and food, trees and buildings lit with a thousand lights to illuminate the dark nights and a feeling of home, where we sense that we are not alone.

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