Schloss Hernstein is a Theophil von Hansen creation; in fact, it is the design that inspired his more well-known constructions in Vienna, Parliament and the Wiener Musikverein (where Anna Grace has performed), one of the most acoustically perfect halls in the world. Another near acoustically-perfect hall is Hill Auditorium on The University of Michigan campus, at which the Vienna Symphony Orchestra (and Jack) have performed. The castle also served as a Hapsburg hunting lodge; and from 1945-1955 was home to the Russian Commander-in-Chief.

But enough trivia. Our visit was all about the market and, naturally, being able to wander through the beautiful rooms of the castle.

The look of confusion on Tony’s face is because I accidentally shut the power off while positioning for this snap; the button was on the floor and I stepped on it!

Like the market at Villa Wartholz, this one had a number of items that found their way into my shopping tote. Must be something about markets in Hapsburg houses.

By the time we departed Schloss Hernstein we were approaching that challenging time of the day out in the provinces: The Mittagspause, when restaurants close for the lunch break. But along our drive to the next market, a rainbow!

And what did we find at the end of that rainbow? Why, Wirthauskultur (and a “Top Wirt” 2018 winner, at that!), Lower Austria’s “Michelin” rating for restaurants serving traditional tavern fare in upgraded style.

The menu was charming; and my Hirschragout, perfect in presentation and in taste.

We left the restaurant and were walking to the car when a voice behind me called out, “Bitte  schön!”  I turned around, thinking I had left something in the restaurant.  But no. An older couple had hiked over from the neighboring village and were seeking a lift back to their spa!  While in the car the woman explained (in fairly good English) that they were at the spa on the order of their physician (which is a thing here in Austria; your doctor can “prescribe” a wellness weekend, and insurance picks up the tab. At least I think that is how it all works.) They had been wandering for five hours when they, too, stopped for lunch; it being we were leaving at the same time, the woman thought to ask us for a lift. Wirthauskultur and hitchhikers, somewhere over the rainbow.

Rather conveniently the small and sweet Museumsdorf Krumbach Adventmarkt was open for this one weekend only, and happened to be along our route (after we deposited the hitchhikers). The town has preserved a half dozen or so buildings from the late 1500’s for educational purposes; and for this one weekend, a local Christmas market. In the old former hospital chapel, an accordion quartet made the atmosphere merry.

Another tied-for-favorite market to wrap up our long day. Burgruine Kirschshlag, perched atop one of the many hills of the Bucklige Welt, or Land of 1.000 Hills was also hosting its market on this weekend.

Up we trekked along with many others to explore the ruins and the regional offerings.

The late afternoon sun added seasonal magic to the setting.

Then, as with all good things, we had run out of both daylight and markets. Time to head home.