Today I drove to Linz in Upper Austria to visit the Christmas markets with my sisters, mother and two other family members. It has become kind of a tradition to meet up with them for going to the Christmas market each year and with my great-cousin having had a baby nearly two years ago, we travelled to Linz where she lives to make it all easier for her.
Linz is a really nice and cosy city, offering anything one needs with an alternative and hip flair. We first drove out to the Traun castle in whose court was one of the markets.
It was a really nice little market, even though you had to pay entrance. There were some stands scattered around the court with illuminated trees and ornaments on the roof finishing off the Christmassy atmosphere.
We strolled through the stands, drinking disgusting punch and Glue Vine (it really was disgusting) and then headed into the castle, where more stands awaited us.
Lovely goods from hand-made candles to bags to wooden carved pieces were on offer; however, there was one stand that I thought was particularly interesting. We approached it and creepily real dolls were strayed all over the stand, some lying in cribs, others on cushions. Some had their eyes closed, some looked at you, which was even creepier.
We all know, dolls are creepy and only weird people collect them beyond the age of ten (I'm sorry, but it's true); however, I reckon we have all come to terms with these horrible horror movies dolls with curls and huge, blue eyes, but this was a completely new level of freaky.
The dolls looked entirely like real babies (see pictures), but it was explicitly stating that they were no toys and cost between 300 and 500 Euros! This made me think. You wouldn't buy it for a child, nor play with it, so you would end up having a real life baby lying in your house, but it wouldn't be real. This is entirely freaked out, if you ask me as the only scenario coming into mind would be a person who buys a real-looking doll and pretends it is a real child, and that person has SERIOUS issues and should rather spend the money on a psychiatrist.
Moving on, ensuing, we drove back to the city of Linz and visited the Christmas market in the Volksgarten, which was an entirely different idea of a market. While the Traun market had been idyllic, traditional and quiet, the other one was a mixture of a fun fair, a Christmas market and a southern market as you would find in Italy or India, for instance.
The best thing about market two was the food. Generally, food is the most important thing about a Christmas market and the Innsbruck market offers a fantastic range of food including crepes to Kiachl (a kind of doughnut thing), to hot dogs, potato curls or chocolate coated fruit. The second one in Linz had a wonderful range, similar to the above given. However, it was freezing cold, colder than you can imagine and I was slightly pissed off because I was wearing my brand-new Jack Wolfskin winter shoes which were promised to keep warm to up to minus 10 degrees. We had just zero degrees and my feet were freezing after only two hours, 130 Euros down the drain.
Regarding an experience we had on the first market, I would also like tell you about an Austrian tradition, which is called "Perchten". Perchten are hideous-looking creatures which look like monsters and have cowbells attached to their furry costumes (for, usually, a human hides underneath the costume) and they are associated with fate and the souls of the dead and with sweeping out the bad energies and bringing in good ones. The male Percht is often depicted as the devil and the "schiachest" (uglies) and the female Perchta as the "schianschte" (the most beautiful). The Perchten surface during the midwinter time and the processions are usually held in early December or late November. Sadly, over the years, Perchten processions have been used by complete morons to seize the opportunity to frighten people and slap them with their rods, which led to many cities banning the processions altogether. The procession we watched was really peaceful and quite entertaining, if not slightly frightening.
Christmas markets are an essential part of the Christmas experience and I like both, the traditional calm ones and the flashy exciting ones - as long as the food is good.
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