Sizzling was the sound made by the sugar cone melting and dripping into the hot red wine. Sizzling was the sound made by the skin on my hand melting as gripped a burning pan. Both sounds made for a memorable weekend in Vienna and first time visit to Brno.
Exiting the train station we passed Christmas markets opening for the holiday season. Despite the cold, the streets are bustling. In the chilly November air, a warm drink changes a trudge into a pleasant stroll through a beautiful European capital.
The go-to drink of Christmas markets is Gluhwein: a hot sweet red wine. It is made with:
Besides wine, we enjoy specialty coffee in Vienna. Masha’s great love of coffee is matched by the friend we visit. The day pleasantly passed, going from one cafe to the next. Each one is unique: half skater fashion boutique, half cafe; a roastery filled with the smell of freash beans; a cosy hole in the wall that serves fancy single-origin hot chocolate.
Once at our friend’s house, the coffee lovers delight continued. They have an advent calendar of filter coffee beans. Each day we try beans from somewhere new, like Vietnam.
The coffee kept us sharp for our board game evenings (half-day marathons). We began with Zug um Zug USA. The race to complete a rail network is punctuated with opportunities to block your opponents. “Oh no, I don’t have the right card for my west coast rail line. Better block you with a single connection in Louisiana!”. This is how you maintain friendships.
We finished the first night with something light; we played Ušáci a paroháči, in English Bunny Bunny Mouse Mouse. It’s a funny game where one person sits across from the group and calls out instructions, and the other players must make different bunny ear or mouse antler expressions with their hands on their heads. The skill level of the game was higher for me on account of my hand situation.
On the first morning of our trip, we were making syrniki when a friend lifted a frying pan out of the oven and said: “Careful it’s hot.” How this registered in my brain: I better grab that. Pan in my hand, skin melting, I try to awkwardly set it down until I lost my grip. Bang, the pan hit the floor, and the syrniki went flying. My hand was burned.
No tennis 🎾 for me. Instead, I spent the next 24h gripping a frozen bottle of juice to keep the wound cold. The distraction of good jokes and board games was my solace.
The main game of the weekend was Star Wars: Imperial Assault. We have a running campaign with our friends. In this outing my vibro axe wielding wookiee’s heroic efforts were not enough to save us against the Empire.
On Sunday, our friends took us to Brno, which was my first time there. Brno is hip. For lunch, we had tacos. The tortillas were prepared fresh, and the pulled pork combined with fresh ingredients was way better than Munich’s Mexican offering.
Brno had a speciality coffee scene. While not Vienna, it was good. Seeing the city left me with a positive impression and made me want to come back or explore other other Czech cities.
For dinner we had the national dish of Czech Republic: Svickova. The braised beef and creamy vegetable sauce were tasty. As a hearty meat-based dish similar to many German dishes, it is not something I’d recommend every day, but on a trip, it was a hit.
Back in Vienna we finished our trip by visiting a board game store. Deep in the basement we found an unknown, for a reason, Star Wars game to gift our hosts.
Masha and I find ourselves at home in Vienna. If we ever move from Munich Vienna is on the short list. Look forward to going back.