Tagged: hygge

Ein Tag in Wien: A Chilly November Day in Vienna

Vienna foliage, p/c @michelleamock

Vienna foliage, p/c @michelleamock

One of my favorite No Reservations episodes is when Anthony Bourdain is in Vienna and is SO. DOGGONE. TICKED. to be having the best time there. He’s all upset because the city is so #offbrand for him: it’s not in the least bit edgy or punk rock. He tries to get indignant, but he just can’t because it’s just so cozy and cheerful and lovely.

I’ve never been to Vienna, but it’s fast becoming my newest obsession thanks to coverage like this — and let’s not forget my proclivity for all things hygge. I mean, I can get down with a trip to the tropics; I’m not a monster! But given the choice, if there’s even a remote chance that a country has a population of handy shoemaking elves hidden deep within its forests, then that, my friends, is where I want to be.

Austria has that in spades, and then to sweeten the pot, Vienna is outrageously beautiful, with every cultural activity you could possibly dream of. So with that in mind, I’m going to pay homage to the NY Times‘ 36 Hours series and share my thoughts on a perfect chilly fall day in Vienna.

  • Accommodations: My fictional home base would be in Mariahilf or Neubau, which are supposed to be funky neighborhoods with lots of boutique shopping and eclectic bars. I found this adorable apartment on AirBnB for (when I looked) $79 a night. It’s a studio loft with a giant bathtub and incredible windows, and the hosts have great reviews. So far I’m feeling pretty good about this trip!

  • Phil in Vienna, p/c Yelp

    Café Phil in Vienna, p/c Yelp

  • Breakfast (around 9am): Nothing too crazy for breakfast, but when in Vienna, one must have coffee. Or else the baristas of cafés past will, like, haunt you forever more. I’m pretty into Phil, a bookstore/coffee shop on Gumpendorferstrasse that’s supposed to serve a yummy spread. From the photos, it looks super-comfy — that is, if you’re like me and are soothed by being in the presence of thousands of books. Let’s pretend that you are.

  • A morning stroll (10am-ish): Let’s check out Neubau! The NY Times‘ 36 Hours post recommends browsing through the shops on Neubaugasse. I did a quick search and apparently Carnaby (number 78) is where all the cool kids get their vintage clothing, whereas Shu! (number 34) is the place for beautifully designed shoes.

  • Late lunch (2pm): While Amerlingbeisl is perhaps best known for its stunning courtyard, the food is equally celebrated. A beisl is a tavern offering local specialities, so here you can get a taste of all things Austrian. The cuisine is not light, so hopefully the brisk air gives you an appetite. By the by, we’re doing something a bit more modern for dinner, so if you want schnitzel, get it here. And rumor has it the ginger apricot punsch is out of this world, so you know what to do.

  • Austrian National Library


  • Walk it off! (3:30pm): Fight the urge to fall asleep after all that deliciousness; we have miles to go before we sleep! I’m torn between two things here. On one hand, I really like modern art, and mumok (11€) features works by Warhol, Picasso, Oldenburg, and more. On the other hand, Vienna boasts one of the most beautiful libraries in the world: the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (7€). You can’t take photos, but you can live out your dreams of reenacting the library scene from Beauty and the Beast….

  • CHRISTMAS MARKET TIME!! (5-6pm): If you think I’m going to visit Vienna and not make sure it’s during Christmas market time, you need to get to stepping (again, you need only read my Copenhagen post). For this expedition I’ve chosen the Wiener Adventzauber und Christkindlmarkt (Magic of Advent and Christmas Market), which starts on November 13 and is open from 10am to 10pm. But but but you have to make sure you’re there when it’s dark so you get the full effect of the Christmas lights. Promise me this!! Also promise me that you’ll partake of the mulled wine. It’s chilly, and you need to keep warm.

    Wiener Adventzauber und Christkindlemarkt

    Wiener Adventzauber und Christkindlemarkt, p/c news.at

    FYI, there are other Christmas markets that have different hours; check those out here.

  • Dinner (7-8pm): Ugh, you seriously want to leave the Christmas market? What’s wrong with you?! Fiiiiine. Dinner is at Labstelle, which is a brisk walk from the market. Per their site, they serve food with regional roots and urban flair. This is definitely a departure from our traditional lunch, but Yelp reviewers say the dishes are balanced, creative, and honest. The decor looks really groovy, too.

  • Give it a rest, Lauren 😒: I’m not telling you to rush through dinner, but if you get out before 10, you can toooootally hit up another Christmas market. The market at Maria-Theresien-Platz is on your way back to Neubau, and you probably need another mulled wine to keep up your strength, right?

  • Drinks (10:30pm-ish): If I haven’t thoroughly walked you out, check out one of the bars close to the apartment, in Mariahilf. The NYT suggests If Dogs Run Free (Gumpendorferstrasse 10-12), a favorite for local artists, though if you’re looking for more of a pub feel, give Känguruh Bierbeisl (Bürgerspitalgasse 20) a whirl.

Look, I even tried my hand at making a Google map with the different destinations! Is it too much for one day? Tell me what you think in the comments!


Can I get a hygge?: Winter in Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens at ChristmasTivoli Gardens at Christmas (photo by @mandy_n)

It is absolutely the wrong time of year to even think about what I’m about to write about, buttttttt… my blog, my rules. Neener neener!

So, there’s this Danish concept called hygge which, like all the best foreign words, cannot really be translated into English. The closest we can come is “cozy,” but really it’s all about soft candlelight (or #literally ALL the fairy lights — see photo above), a roaring fire, a warm boozy beverage, and good companionship. It’s one of the ways the Danes get through the long, dark winters (though there is a summer version of hygge that mostly involves barbecues and picnics) and still have their sanity more or less intact.

And it’s hygge that I think of when it’s been 95 degrees every day for basically the last two months.

Leslie Knope - Everything Hurts and I'm Dying gif

So what better time to put FOMO-busting to good use? Let’s hygge it up!!

My dear friend Mandy and I traveled to Copenhagen in November 2013: prime hygge season! We stayed in Nørrebro, a funky neighborhood just outside of center city, perfect to escape to after a day of sightseeing.

There are tons of cozy and comforting places to visit so you can get your hygge on.

  • Ravnsborggade: One block up from the waterfront, this small street is lined with adorable boutiques that, come mid-November and after, host miniature Christmas markets. Antique shops like Ingerslev Antik (#22) let you outfit your own home with all the vintage hygge you can, while Bungalow (#17) has stylish paper goods, Christmas ornaments, lights, and textiles for decorating with a more modern, but still homey, touch.

  • Sandwich from Smag in Copenhagen

    ~*~*THE*~*~ sandwich from Smag (photo again by @mandy_n)

  • Smag: This sandwich shop’s cafe is not really all that much in line with hygge, but their food itself is some of the most comforting you will ever eat. (If you’re looking for a cozier setting, you can take your food to Kaffeplantagen just up the street; they won’t mind.) Take, for instance, their smoked salmon sandwich, which when we had it was complemented by dark rye bread, a green pea puree spread, whole peanuts, arugula, and pea pods. We had to fight temptation to not go back for it every day we were in Copenhagen.

  • Kaffeplantagen: Danes are famous for their love of java, so where else to look for hygge than in a coffee shop? Grab one of Kaffeplantagen’s creamy, foamy lattes — be sure to dust it with cinnamon, if the barista hasn’t already — and choose from their beautiful selection of pastries. They also serve savory food, but in limited quantities, so try to get there right at lunch if you’re looking for something heartier (and if for some bizarre reason you’ve decided to forgo eating at Smag).

  • Bevar’s: Bevar’s is one of the more hyggelig cafĂŠs in Nørrebro. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also have free Wi-Fi, so it’s a popular all-day hangout spot. The crowd turns livelier in the evenings, though, when there’s often musicians performing. On these nights, people put their computers away and start chatting with unfamiliar faces; however, the music is still low enough where you don’t have to shout. If you’re there on your own, grab a glass of wine at the bar and make conversation with the bartender; they’re happy to give you some recommendations on how to find what’s hygge in town.

  • Barking Dog: What better way to warm up on a damp, chilly day than with a hot toddy? The Barking Dog offers several different kinds (though unfortunately you won’t find the standard Christmas gløgg — mulled wine), and its cafĂŠ has plenty of nooks where you can hole up and forget about the rest of the world for a while. Their cocktails are handcrafted — think specially chipped ice, freshly zested citrus, etc. — so they take about 3-5 minutes to prepare. Service takes a while on weekends, but it’s quite an enjoyable show to watch.