Christmas away from home can be hard for some people. Fortunately, Wombat’s Vienna did everything they could to make it feel like being home for my holidays last year. Upon arriving on Christmas Eve, there was a nice Christmas tree, and Christmas cookies at reception. I love Christmas cookies, so this already made me extremely happy!

Wombat’s Vienna Naschmarkt is a stone’s throw from the U-Bahn station, making my walk through the Austrian winter extremely short, which I very much appreciated. There is also an open air market right across the street, which has dozens of shops to buy warm food and groceries. After I checked in, the friendly staff gave me two free drink tickets (bonus!) and informed me that because it was Christmas Eve, they would be serving a warm punch at the bar tonight for free. Who needs presents when you have warm punch?

I decided to go on the free walking tour Wombat’s has the next day. It was extremely cold out, but there was still a big group bundled up and ready to go! Our tour guide showed us around to a lot of the local sights, and I made friends with a few of my tour buddies!

Vienna is a beautiful, charming city and happens to be home of the original Wiener Schnitzel! There are several restaurants that specialize in schnitzel, so I would advise to do your research to decide which one to go to! Figlmüller seems to be the most popular, but make sure to make reservations in advance, as it fills up very quickly! I would also recommend enjoying some delicious Viennese coffee while you are there.

Nightlife is pretty diverse in Vienna, so I asked the Wombat’s staff where to go based on my preferences. Turns out Christmas in Vienna has some special options in terms of nightlife. They had some great insight and made some recommendations that turned out to be just what I was looking for. I also spent some time at a couple of the Christmas markets, which are my favorite part of Europe in December. Nothing beats a mug of Glühwein (warm mulled wine) when it’s snowing outside.

It was cool to finally visit one of the original Wombat’s on my trip around Europe. There is definitely a Wombat’s theme, but each location has their own local flare. The most common similarities though, are the fantastic locations (both to public transport and activities) and the amazingly friendly staff. Thanks for making my Christmas in Vienna one to remember!

There is no denying that travellers are always on the lookout for gifts and souvenirs to bring home—a certain something that will help to remind them of their exciting trip. However, many travellers can often become caught up in buying cheap knick knacks and gifts from tourist traps. Putting together a list of top souvenirs to bring home from a UK trip can be difficult since there are just so many amazing things that you can shop for. To avoid purchasing something you may only decide to throw away in a few months, we’ve put together a short list of some authentic items that you may wish to consider when travelling to the United Kingdom.

Tea from Whittard and British Tea

If you are visiting the capital of England, London comes with its very own Whittard tea shop—a very popular chain tea shop that sells exquisite teas, both hot and iced. They provide a lovely selection of quality teas from across the globe. From fruit infusions and flowering teas to oolong and flavoured green. Why not sample a few of their teas from their house blends? If you’re not a big tea drinker, they also have a wide selection of coffee and hot chocolate for you to choose from. Not only that, they have incredibly creative flavours such as strawberry, tiramisu, and even salted caramel! If you miss out on shopping in London and are perhaps visiting somewhere further afield, there are plenty of tea shops hidden around most towns and cities. It’s certainly well worth a visit.

Chocolate and Sweets

cadbury chocolate

It’s no secret that the British are absolutely in love with sweets. The British are well-known for making some of the most delicious sweets (candy) and chocolate that is often craved across the globe. The famous British Cadbury chocolate bars taste so much better, compared to the reformulated ones that you can easily find in your local supermarket. Some fantastic favourites to try are Dairy Milk, Wispa and Aero. For travellers coming from the United States of America, the Hershey Company has banned the sale of Cadbury’s chocolate in the US, which means bringing back a bar of Cadbury’s chocolate will certainly be a special treat.

Museum Gifts

museum shop

There are plenty of museums dotted around the UK, but for travellers heading to London, you should take some time out to visit The British Museum and V&A Museum, which offer more than your regular museum souvenir shop. Admission to most museums in London is free, so your budget might be able to accommodate a visit to the museums’ shops. Both museums are known to commission special pieces and gifts for their own lines of accessories, homeware, and jewellery, which are based on their exhibits. Not only are some of the most commissioned artists based in the United Kingdom, but the collections are typically only available for purchase at museums. How’s that for a unique gift?

Vintage Treasures

Vintage pieces

England is a treasure trove of gifts and unique antiques that range from small simple trinkets to extravagant historic artefacts. With so many different shops for you to visit and what seems to be an endless selection of vintage goods for you to choose from, you are bound to discover something that will catch your eye. If you are spending enough time in London, you should definitely focus your treasure hunt on the numerous marketplaces, such as Camden, Brick Lane or the Old Spitalfields Markets.
The weekends, in particular, see markets popping up throughout London. In East London you can easily visit Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market and Greenwich Market to fill your bags up with authentic vintage gifts.

Union Jack Souvenirs

union jack souvenirs

For travellers visiting London, a short walk along the streets of Central London will unearth a world of ubiquitous souvenir shops selling key chains, hats and t-shirts emblazoned with the Union Jack. You can discover incredibly interesting keepsakes that will certainly commemorate your trip to the UK!
If you are one of those, who start to think about gifts just when you stand at the airport and realise that your trip is nearly over. Union Jack souvenirs are obviously the option for you. As you can easily get literally anything labeled with an Union Jack at any British airport. :)

In Austria the Christmas spirit begins to creep in during November. That’s when the first Christmas markets open. Vienna has an enormous variety of Christmas markets to offer. Actually it seems there’s one Vienna Christmas market around the corner no matter where you are and indeed you don’t have to walk far from one to another in Vienna’s city center. You can either follow the sweet fragrance of chestnut, gingerbread and alcoholic punch or you can ask the receptionists at your wombat’s CITY HOSTEL for directions and recommendations. Normally, Christmas markets are more expensive and touristy the closer they are to Vienna’s main sights, like the city hall or Schönbrunn palace. It’s not necessarily a bad thing if you visit Vienna as a tourist and carry enough cash :).  Those locations also make for really nice photos, with the sites and monuments all lit up and decorated.

The slightly hidden markets, like the one at Spittelberg, are normally populated by locals. Especially at Museumsquartier and Altes AKH you’ll meet students and young locals. It is actually a habit among Austrians to visit a Christmas market to drink some punch (Punsch) or mulled wine (Glühwein) before you go out. In some places you have many different versions of Glühwein or punch, but the main concept is always the same: Hot alcohol (in case of Glühwein, hopefully wine) and spices mixed with more spirits. Looking for inspiration? Here are the most important Christmas markets with directions and opening hours in Vienna:

Vienna Christmas World at the Christmas Market

15 November – 26 December 2019
Su-Th 10.00 am – 9.30 pm, Fr & Sa 10.00 am – 10.00 pm
December 24, 10.00 am – 6.00 pm
December 25+26, 11.00 am – 9.30 pm
Rathausplatz, 1010 Vienna
wienerweihnachtstraum.at

Christmas Village at Maria-Theresien-Platz

20 November – 26 December 2019
Su-Th 11:00 am – 9:00 pm, Fr & Sa 11:00 am – 10:00 pm
24 December 11:00 am – 4:00 pm
25+26 December 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
New Year’s Village 27 December 2019 – 6 January 2020
11:00 am – 7:00 pm, 31 December 11:00 am – 6:00 pm
Maria-Theresien-Platz, 1010 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

Christmas Village at Belvedere Palace

22 November – 31 December 2019
Mo-Fr 11:00 am – 9:00 pm,
Sa, Su & hols. 10.00 am – 9.00 pm
24 December 11:00 am – 4 pm
25 + 26 December 11:00 am – 7 pm, 31 December 11.00 am – 6.00 pm
Prinz-Eugen-Strasse 27, 1030 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

Christmas Village in the Altes AKH

15 November – 23 December 2019
Mo-We 2.00 pm – 10.00 pm,
Th-Fr 2.00 pm – 11.00 pm
Sa 11.00 am – 11.00 pm, Su 11.00 am – 9.00 pm
Alserstrasse/Spitalgasse, Hof 1, 1090 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

Old Viennese Christmas Market

16 November – 23 December 2019
Daily from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
Freyung, 1010 Vienna
www.altwiener-markt.at

Am Hof Advent Market

15 November – 23 December 2019
Mo-Th 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Fr-Su & hols. 10:00 am – 9:00 pm, food until 10:00 pm
Am Hof, 1010 Vienna
www.weihnachtsmarkt-hof.at

Christmas Market & New Year’s Market, Schönbrunn Palace

23 November – 26 December 2019
Daily from 10:00 am – 9:00 pm
24 December 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, 25-26 December 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
New Year’s Market 27 December 2019 – 5 January 2020
Daily from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
Schönbrunn Palace, 1130 Vienna
www.weihnachtsmarkt.co.at

Art Advent – Art & Crafts at Karlsplatz

22 November – 23 December 2019
Daily from 12:00 noon – 8:00 pm, food until 9:00 pm
Karlsplatz, 1010 Vienna
www.artadvent.at

Christmas Market at Spittelberg

14 November – 23 December 2019
Mo-Th 2:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Fr 2:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Sa 10:00 noon – 9:30 pm, Su & hols. 10:00 noon – 9:00 pm
Spittelberggasse, Schrankgasse, Gutenberggasse, 1070 Vienna
www.spittelberg.at

Winter Market at Riesenradplatz

16 November 2019 – 6 January 2020
Mo-Fr 12.00 noon – 10.00 pm
Sa, Su & hols. 11.00 am – 10.00 pm
24 December 10.00 am – 5.00 pm, 31 December 12.00 noon – 2.00 am
Riesenradplatz, 1020 Vienna
www.wintermarkt.at/wintermarkt

Christmas Market at Stephansplatz

15 November – 26 December 2019
Daily from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
24 December 11:00 am – 4:00 pm, 25-26 December 11:00 am – 7:00 pm
Stephansplatz/towards Churhausgasse, 1010 Vienna
www.weihnachtsdorf.at

 

source: wien.info

If you’re visiting Vienna these days you’ll have to face moody autumn weather. Maybe the best way to escape fog and rain is to take advantage of the Viennale, Austria’s most important Film Festival. As The Guardian once commented on the Viennale: If the prime purpose of a film festival is to open up exciting new vistas and present work one is unlikely to see elsewhere, then Vienna in autumn is the place to be.So you obviously chose the right place to be.

The international Film Festival takes place since 1960 and offers a broad spectrum of artistic movies from around the globe. Many movies are shown in original language (subtitled in german). Commonly it is known for the variety of movies, serving the needs of main stream and more critical minded cineasts. This year, the programme has been restructured and the Vienna Film Festival is showing 300 international films of various genres, from historical to contemporary over mainstream to arthouse cinema.

The Viennale 2019 takes place from October 24th until November 6th. Participating cinemas are Metro, Filmmuseum, Stadtkino Künstlerhaus, Urania and Gartenbaukino. All of them are places with a unique atmosphere and wonderful charme located in the city center. Every single one is easily reachable from every Wombat’s The City Hostel in Vienna. A special goodie is the retrospective in Vienna’s Filmmuseum. The Viennale retrospective shows movies from previous editions of the festival. By the way, the Filmmuseum is worth a visit at any time of the year. For additional information, directions and most importantly the festival’s program check out their website www.viennale.at

The Oktoberfest runs from Sept 21st – October 6th 2019

What do hostel workers need most after an exhausting summer season? A 16-day beerfest, along with a hostel full of intoxicated guests. NOT, you would think, but we actually still enjoy this.

OK, we could do with less puke in the elevators, but there are the bizarre moments making up for the downsides. Like the guest we only saw wearing a helmet (“to avoid injuries when passing out”) or the guy wearing a zebra costume for breakfast. I asked him where he got that one from, to which he replied, “I don’t remember, I woke up in it.” Or the guy who returned at 3am with nothing but his underpants (he couldn’t tell how that happened, but we know it). We have seen it all, and whatever you do, we won’t tell your girlfriend. Here’s how to Oktoberfest:

Avoid the weekends.

Especially avoid Saturdays. Especially the Saturday on the second weekend, when FC Bayern has a home match. Do yourself a favour and go on a weekday. Even on a Tuesday afternoon, it’s still the biggest party on earth. It’s easier to find accommodation. You”ll have to line up less than an hour for the rollercoasters, you’ll get inside the tents without lining up for hours and a free spot at a table will be much easier to find as well.

Don’t try to reserve a table

Because they don’t accept table reservations when the tent is likely to be full anyway. You just enter the tent of your choice. Scan it for empty spots and ask the other people on the table “ist hier frei?” – that’s it, and it’s also a good conversation starter.

First eat, then drink!

Oktoberfest beer is stronger than the regular stuff. It can get quite warm in the tents, so you will be thirsty and might drink more than you intended. The salt on the pretzels will do the rest. Start your day with a hearty lunch – I recommend one of the many beer halls. Augustiner Bräustuben (http://www.braeustuben.de/) serves excellent pork knuckle for just €9,20. The alcohol will hit you in a much more enjoyable way when you have some lardy food in your stomach.

Leave your stuff at the hostel

The Oktoberfest throng is a pickpocket’s paradise. You won’t want to be paranoid all the time about the contents of your pockets. Also leave your eyeglasses at home, you know, drunk people sometimes throw around their arms in a somewhat uncontrolled manner…

First rollercoaster, then binge drinking

Have mercy on me. I don’t want the contents of your digestive system raining down on me when I queue up. Please!
Still, if you are not yet completely wasted, sneaking out of the tent after the first Maß and go for a ride on the giant carousel or one of the rollercosters is definitely worth the experience.

Which tent?

There are 14 big ones and 20 small ones altogether with seats for 100,000. The first one you’ll see at the main entrance is the Hippodrom, well known for its champagne bar (WTF?) and the occasional celebrity visitor. Schottenhamel is a large one (it seats 10,000) and the tent where it all starts when the mayor taps the first keg. The biggest one is Paulaner Festzelt (capacity 10,900). The best about it is the large outdoor area on its southern side, so you can enjoy the autumn sun. The locals’ favourite is still Augustiner, the only one left tapping the beer from traditional wooden kegs. The tent where the shit really hits the fan is Hofbräu – like the Hofbräuhaus beer hall it’s very popular with tourists who intend to party hard. Mind that the waitresses will ask you to leave when you have an empty stein in front of you and refuse to replace it with a full one immediately. All the tents come with very cheesy oompah-style brass music playing traditional Bavarian songs like “Sweet Home Alabama” or “Country Roads”. You will certainly hate it until you’ve finished your fifth stein, then you’ll love it.

Don’t go to the wine tent

This is a BEERfest, for chrissake! Don’t be a nerd and drink wine. You just don’t!!!

Try not to pass out

The tents close just before midnight and those who can’t make it on their own legs any more will be brought to the slope under the “Bavaria” statue by the security guys. There are hundreds of “Bierleichen” lined up there every evening and the pickpockets will leave you with nothing but your underpants. You have been warned!

 

All in all the most important thing is to have fun. Go out and party hard!

Secret City Tour Berlin
The Secrets of Berlin

You love discovering cities but classic city tours where you just check off the sights seem quite boring to you? If you’re more into exploring a city with all senses we have the perfect tool for you! Instead of walking around without being involved, your city tour converts into a game! Also you don’t have to pre-book your tour and stick to fixed times, just start the game when you’re ready. So forget POKEMON GO and discover real hidden treasures in cities across Europe with Secret City Trails!

 

Secret City Trails Munich
The Secrets of Munich

 

Secret City Trails takes locals and travellers on urban adventures in 24 cities across Europe. During the experiences players explore a city’s hidden gems and unlock stories and recommendations to cafes and restaurants while they solve a trail of riddles via a web app (works in browser of any smartphones, so no downloads are needed). Solving the riddles puts people in the present and requires focus on what’s around instead of on your phone. The city discovery games are an entertaining, interactive, instantly bookable, affordable and independent way of seeing and enjoying  a city.

How it works

The game can be played alone or in a group of up to 5 persons. First of all you need to choose one of the 24 cities and book it online before you receive an email with a unique link to play. By adding the discount code wombats you’ll get off 10% a game at any city!

After that, the starting point will be revealed in the email. As soon as you open the email link in your smartphone’s browser and tap ‘Play Now’ the game starts and you receive your first riddle. Now it’s your turn to search for answers to the riddles on streets, hidden courtyards, alleys, unknown galleries and even lovely shops and cafes. Answer correctly and unlock the next riddle, as well as stories and recommendations to cafes, bars, shops and more. There’s no limit for incorrect answers and you get encouraged to try again. If you’re stuck you can ask for a hint. There’s one for each riddle and it will get you nearer to the location where you can find your answer. Asking for a hint will cost you 10 minutes of ‘penalty time’ though. If you’re really stuck or lost, you can choose to skip a riddle. This will result in 20 minutes ‘penalty time’ which will be added to your overall time. Your total time will be revealed after the last riddle when the game ends.

Secret City Trails Vienna
The Secrets of Vienna

We had the chance to try Secret City Trails in Vienna and we absolutley loved it! Not only that it’s great fun to solve the riddles and explore many places, you also perceive the spots completely different. By focusing on the details to solve the riddles you will realize things you have never seen before! You also get to know many facts about the buildings and the history which was really interesting and we didn’t know yet. Unfortunately it started to rain heavily on our Secret City Trail tour so we had to interrupt it for some time. But this wasn’t a big problem as you pass many cute cafes and bars on your tour and there’s also a break after you solved half of the riddles. At the end of the game you will receive a map with all the locations you have passed, so that you can come back to those places at any given time.

 

 

Travel and play as the first #secretcityintern

Secret City Trails just launched an internship that allows you to travel across Europe, play games and share your adventures on social media for in total 3 months. All travel, accomodation and games are covered, your task is it to visual report your adventures with videos and photos. The internship is starting in September 2019 in Amsterdam and Haarlem, in October you will meet two of our cities, Munich and Vienna. The internship ends at the end of November 2019 in Lisbon.