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December 03, 2006

Salzburg's central Christmas Market

Salzburgxmastree The centre of Salzburg is all ready for Christmas now. Adding to the Winterlounge and the ice rink, the Christmas market has opened. This was bigger than the one we visited earlier the same Saturday in Hellbrunn, and had a more extensive range of festive gear. It was beautifully lit, with a massive Christmas tree in the middle of the town square.

There were several glüewien stalls, with a bit of price war going on - the going rate for a cup of the Austrian version of mulled wine varies between €2.20 and €2.90. We stuck to the Winterlounge, although this time Claire got one of the fruit punsches. These concentrated liqueurs are mixed with hot water to provide an alcoholic hot juice drink - very tasty indeed. Whilst we were at the Winterlounge we got to watch the ice-skating, and to our delight got to see the amusing sight of some three or four year old ice-skating like crazy, whilst being forced to wear their bicycle helmet by some zealously safety-conscious parents.

The market has displaced the area where the tourist horse-rides generally depart from, so they have had to move to the other end of the square. They are still doing a thriving business, and for Christmas it seems that the rides are available later in the evening, with candle-lit lamps on the carriages and blankets supplied for all.

Over the last few weeks a lot of the big statues and civic ornaments in Salzburg have been covered up, presumably against the oncoming winter weather, and the big fountain in the town centre has been no exception. However, in this case it has been enclosed by a wooden structure in which individual panels open up to display a nativity scene.

The scene, though, is I think, uniquely Austrian, with scary straw statues standing in for Mary, Jesus and the reindeer that obviously lived in Bethlehem, along with a complement of sheep made out of real wool hide and straw. Very, very strange.


And, as ever, in true classic seventies Doctor Who fashion, I am convinced that they come alive at night and cut down unsuspecting homeless people or lone policemen with their laser eyes.

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