For a change of pace we decided to spend Christmas outside of Vienna. We rented an apartment in Cracow that we had rented before; its proximity to the Stare Mesto (5 minute walk) and its well-appointed kitchen were the main reasons we returned. Since our traditional Christmas dinner is Polish cuisine, what better place to be than in the Motherland?

Jack arrived a few days before Christmas, and Tony dutifully helped him repatriate to being legal again before we packed up the wagon and headed to Poland.


Our first afternoon was filled with holiday preparations, procuring a (small) Christmas tree chief among them. Throughout our wanderings we collected a couple dozen handmade Polish glass ornaments for the tree, lovely souvenirs of our holiday.

Next up, a visit to Stary Kleparz, the 800 year old market to shop amongst the locals for our Christmas provisions.

Queues were long for kielbasa and carp. We all hate carp, and were happy to leave that fish to others.


The market is large, and offers pretty much everything you might need, from olives to underwear to chicken feet for your favorite canine (Clayton Theodore loved them, of course).

Need “Alaska” seasoning for your fish, or a fresh turkey from a pop-up vendor? Stary Kleparz has you covered.


Blood sausage. Another Polish “treat” we all despise.

Polish tortes, on the other hand, we happily embrace.

At the pierogi shop I was actually able to help a French woman customer; she was preparing dinner for 12 people and had not a clue of the various pierogi fillings.  My Polish is terrible, but I do know my way around food! In the end she purchased a couple hundred pierogi, several dozen cabbage rolls, and enough babka to feed a Polish army. Her friend was carrying several kilos of salmon to be roasted, as well!  Who knows how their dinner turned out; they’re probably all still eating!

Who can resist Buscia’s hand knitted wool socks and homemade smoked cheese?  Not we.

On Christmas Eve day we enjoyed the beautiful weather and the main Christmas market in Stare Mesto. And of course, the food.



Lunch at an outdoor table on the square. In December. How about that, Vienna?

An acquired taste, Bigos, a “stew” of sauerkraut and pork belly, with a side of marinated and grilled mushrooms. Though I had stuffed myself with pierogi earlier in the afternoon, I could not resist a childhood favorite. Smaczne!

Christmas Dinner. I brought the Pakistani linens that Tony’s colleague gifted me on a recent visit to Vienna for their festive colors, and together with some new Polish pottery I purchased in Cracow (and the requisite IKEA dinnerware), assembled a classic rental apartment table at which we feasted. Wesołych Swiąt!