The shops and streets are decorated for Christmas, and the prominent decoration is fir trees lining the streets, in the center of the walks, at the corners of each building... hundreds of them, and not even decorated, just in their natural state of beauty. The Christmas Markets, a tradition since 1298, are spread throughout the walkable square, where delicate Christmas tree ornaments, snow globes (invented in Vienna), hand-carved wooden items, Steiff teddy bears, Tuhn toys, and other classic German goods can be bought.
The best of the food was the mulled wines, hand-crafted and invented in competitions, then the winners are sold throughout the city in the same little ceramic boot mugs, which can be bought for the 3 Euro deposit or returned for a refill. We tried the Trifoler Apfel, with real chopped apples blended with white wine and cinnamon and about a dozen other subtle ingredients, and I've never been warmer!
Update: I collected the mugs at each location and have about 6 altogether.
We are staying at the Marriot right in der Mitte, or the city center, which I would highly recommend for its scenic views and walking location for all the major destinations in the city, especially at this time of year.
I got some great photos and saw a breathtaking view of the city I'm already in love with! I found it especially lovely how colorful the shingles on the roof were; I wonder how long they have been there, judging by the coat of arms I'd say hundreds of years, and that's not even old for a city like Vienna. So incomprehensibly fascinating.
But these men are not your friend. They are shysters at their best.
They work for rinky-dink theater companies that are amateur at best, overselling the tickets for upwards of 50 Euros to these little venues with tiny shows that are presented to be concert halls and masterful performances with full orchestras. We were victims of one such shyster (interestingly, this word originates from the German Shiesser, or "worthless person".)
Luckily we did not spend as much as some people are pushed into, my dad is a master negotiator, but we were not impressed with Palais Palffy's concert of Mozart and Strauss. Most concerts in Vienna are tributes to these golden composers, and I am personally about 99% sure that in a past life I was romantically involved with W.A. Mozart and am still very much in love... so I was not happy to see his name soiled in the name of riches, the one thing he detested and died in poverty to protest, for the sake of music's purity.
Moral of the story: fast-talking salesman can be selling ANYTHING, and Google your options before purchasing, folks.
Our concert was not terrible, but not what we were sold on. The "authentic costumes" were nothing like our Renaissance Faire could have procured; the "full orchestra" was 6 people; the "large stage" was about 20 feet across; the "opera house" was an art building ACROSS THE STREET from the ACTUAL opera house; and the ballet "dancers" get quotation marks because if I can replicate your moves, lady, then it's not very good ballet.
Overall it made for an eventful first day in the city; stay tuned for our second day at Schönbrunn Palace, the famous Yellow Palace of Austria, the summer residence of Austria's former monarchs.