Have you been naughty or nice? The Christmas season has become an ultra-commercialized, super saccharine, and generally forced time of year recently. Each year, the mountain of presents grows larger and larger, regardless of how well you’ve behaved. However, legend has it that naughty little boys and girls are punished for their wickedness each year in December. While Saint Nicholas brings reward and praise, he doesn’t visit alone. In different parts of the world he has different names like Black Peter or Knecht Ruprecht, but in the darkest corners of the Alps, he’s known as Krampus…the Christmas Demon.
This maniacal monster has been creeping into western pop culture for the past few years. You may have seen him on The Office, The Venture Brothers, The League, Grimm, or guilty pleasure film that bears his name, Krampus.
We’re also very excited to welcome Al Ridenour along with us as we travel through the Alpine reaches of Austria and southern Germany. Al is the world’s foremost English-speaking expert on the dark side of Christmas. He co-founded LA Krampusfest in Los Angeles in 2013, introducing the incredible Christmas demon to the West Coast. Over the next few years he cultivated and distilled that obsession and eventually published the definitive English language text on Pagan and alternative winter celebrations, The Krampus and the Old Dark Christmas, in 2016. So, who better to help us navigate through the twisted tales and freaky folklore of the Old World? Is Al the guy to the left or the guy to the right? We will let you decide…
Join Geek Nation Tours in December for our Kristmas with Krampus tour as we travel to the Old World and meet this demon face to face in the real spirit of Christmas!
Day 1: Friday, November 30th – Vienna
Today you will arrive from all around the world to Vienna. You will be given detailed instructions on how to reach your hotel where you’ll meet the rest of your traveling companions and your Geek Nation Tours Tour Leader. Once you’ve checked in, the afternoon is yours to explore Austria’s capital city. Your Tour Leader will be available to help or offer suggestions on what to see and do.
After everyone arrives, your Tour Leader will head out into the city (depending on the mood it could be anything from visiting the peculiar Hunderwasser House to ice skating in front of city hall) and you are welcome and encouraged to tag along. However, feel free to spend the day as you see fit.
We’ll gather in the evening for a Welcome Dinner in the hotel’s restaurant where your Tour Leader will give you more details and what to expect on the tour. You’ll also get the chance to mingle with your fellow travelers. Be careful not to humbug too much about the holiday season…you never know who’s watching.
Day 2: Saturday, December 1st – Vienna
After breakfast, it’s off to Saint Marx’s cemetary. The cemetary hasn’t been used since the 1800’s, but is still open to the public. Vines and shrubs have reclaimed the land and bend and curl and clutch the crumbling tombstones of forgotten citizens. There is one grave, however, that is still properly maintained. It marks the communal pauper’s grave that serves as final resting place of the city’s most famous resident, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
From Saint Marx and poor man’s burials, we travel into the city to the imperial crypts of the emperors and empresses of the House of Habsburg. The crypts are beneath and unassuming church down one of the Altstadt’s side streets. Numerous sarcophagi from several generations of inbred nobles line the corridors each more ornate than the next, some even take up an entire room!
Being faced with so much death, it is understandable if you’ve lost your appetite, but you’ll be encouraged to find a quiet spot for lunch on your own (perhaps one of the stalls of the Christmas Markets?) before meeting your Tour Leader and continuing your morbid discovery of Vienna.
After lunch you’ll visit the Anatomical Pathological Museum. This fascinating collection of preserved organs and body parts and other oddities is housed in Vienna’s former mental asylum. No word on if the building is haunted, but it’s rather creepy just the same.
From there we’ll head around the corner to psycho analyze ourselves and talk about repressed memories regarding our parents at the Sigmund Freud Museum. Set up in one of Freud’s actual apartments, the museum gives us an interesting look at what many consider to be the foundations of modern psychology.
Dinner this evening will be at the Augustinerkeller restaurant near the Hofburg imperial palace. Of course, it wouldn’t be Vienna without Wiener Schnitzel!
Day 3: Sunday, December 2nd – Graz
You’ll board a coach bright and early in the morning and travel from the lowlands into the mountains and the city of Graz. This university town is often associated with Arnold Schwarzenegger even though he actually grew up just outside of the city in the village of Thal. However, the university did play host to Nikola Tesla who studied Electrical Engineering there. Also be wary of any cats you see because they may or may not actually be there ever since Erwin Schrödinger was the university’s Chancellor in 1936.
After dropping our gear at the hotel, we’ll have a walking city tour of Graz by a local guide. By Austrian law, every guide must be certified and complete and extensive training program, so they definitely know their stuff!
Lunch will again be on your own, but Graz will also have countless food vendors at the Christmas markets to choose from. Your Tour Leader will set a time and meeting point and everyone will regroup for a tour of the Styrian Armory in the afternoon. The collection of medieval weapons and armor (as well as a few interrogation aids) promises to be totally metal.
After our tour we’ll race back to the main street and stake our claim on the best spots available for the evening’s Krampuslauf! As dusk settles on the Altstadt, the darkness is broken by flames, torches, and flares. The quite mountain city roars into the night as hundreds of demons stalk the parade route with their cowbells clanging while they whip mischief makers along the way.
Once the wicked have been punished and the streets are cleared, we’ll make our way to atraditional Austrian restaurant for dinner.
Day 4: Monday, December 3rd – Salzburg
Once again you’ll board a coach bright and early as we cross the Alps from Graz to Salzburg. Along the way we’ll get a glimpse of Schwarzenegger’s boyhood hometown as well as the world headquarters of Redbull. If anyone is feeling inspired and wants to regale the coach with show tunes from The Sound of Music, there will luckily be enough Krampus acolytes to soundly take care of that sugar-coated monstrosity.
We’ll drop our gear at the hotel and dash off for lunch on our own before regrouping for our “mountain” tour of the area. You’ll visit nearby sites including the Berchtesgaden Salt Mine and the infamous “Eagle’s Nest” of Adolf Hitler.
You’ll enjoy dinner right in the hotel in the Pitterkeller. It just so happens to be the oldest beer cellar in Salzburg! After filling up on heavy Austrian food, we’ll don our thinking caps for a murder mystery evening. Everyone will have a part to play and everyone’s a suspect! Can you figure out who dunnit?
Day 5: Tuesday, December 4th – Salzburg
After breakfast you’ll venture into Salzburg for the “Mountains & Mythology” tour. You’ll scale the Mönchsberg Mountain that surrounds the historic city center and hear local legends passed down from centuries gone by.
Once again you’ll be given ample time for lunch on your own before regrouping and climbing up to the Hohensalzburg fortress. The massive fortress has dominated the backdrop of the city since the 12th century. You’ll be treated to a “Hidden Corners” tour of the fortress and explore areas not normally seen by visitors.
After the tour, we’ll have a chance to visit the markets in the altstadt, go ice skating on Mozart square, or visit the Weihnachts Museum and it’s fantastic collection of Krampus articles before dinner at the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium restaurant. The restaurant is part of the St. Peter’s monastery and has been around since the 8th century.
Day 6: Wednesday, December 5th – Salzburg
We’ll enjoy a leisurely morning in Salzburg before heading out in the afternoon to visit St. Sebastian’s Cemetery to see some creepy crypt carvings including “Death Triumphant”. We’ll also learn more about Perchten, how they’re both the same and different from Krampus and what local clubs do to get ready for the big Krampuslaufs.
In the evening, we’ll grab our spots on the Linzergasse for the first of two Krampuslaufs in Salzburg. Once the demons clear out from Linzergasse, we’ll dash across the Salzach river and set up on the Getreidegasse for the second Krampuslauf of the night. December 5th is Saint Nicholas, when Saint Nick traditionally visits homes. In many places, he visits at night while the children are sleeping. But in rural Alpine areas he visits in the evening and is always sure to have one or two or three Krampuses along to set everyone straight.
Once the streets are safe again, we’ll meander to the Goldener Kugel (The Golden Ball) for another Austrian dinner and we might even find out what golden balls have to do with St. Nicholas!
Day 7: Thursday, December 6th – Munich
In the morning, you’ll board a coach for your last transfer out of the mountains from Salzburg, Austria to Munich, Germany. After checking in to our hotel we’ll make our way to Augustiner am Dom restaurant for a Bavarian lunch together.
After lunch, your Tour Leader will take you on a deathly tour of Munich featuring the 12th century St. Peter’s church (including the complete jewel studded skeleton of Saint Munditia), the insanely Baroque Asamkirche, and the Old South Cemetery which was founded as a plague cemetery in the 16th century.
In the evening, you’ll dine like royalty at the former Court Brew House. You probably already recognize it by its German name, Hofbräuhaus. The evening will most certainly be whirling as you’re treated to big beers, big food, big sounds, and big…well, you get the idea…during our Farewell Dinner in Munich.
Day 8: Friday, December 7th – Munich
Today is the day that you and your traveling companions go your separate ways. The trinkets and souvenirs may fade away, and the visions of sugar plums may be replaced by nightmares of terror and torture, but the friendships you made along the way will hopefully last a lifetime.
So what do you say? Are you ready to replace the hustle and bustle and over-commercialized stress of the Christmas for an authentic Old World Alpine holiday season? Then join us on our Kristmas with Krampus tour because the reason for the season is DEMONS!!
What’s included: All hotel stays, coach transfers between locations, all breakfasts and dinners throughout (including Welcome and Farewell dinners), public transit when applicable, entrance fees to museums and exhibitions and tours as part of the program, local guides in Graz and Salzburg, games & prizes, and loads of other stuff!
What’s not included: Airfare to and from tour locations, local airport transfers, most lunches throughout (except Day 6), and entrance fees to museums and exhibitions visited on your own.
NOTE: Attendance of special guests and celebrities is subject to change due to scheduling conflicts and conflicting professional or personal obligations.
Price – 8 Day Tour: $3699.00 USD + $389.00 taxes & fees
Single Occupancy Upgrade: $895.00
Don’t have a partner in crime to get the double occupancy rate? Geek Nation Tours can help! Book as a double occupancy and we’ll match you up with a roommate. This way you get the best of both worlds, someone to BS about the trip with…and more cash to spend!
Deposit: $1000.00 per person per booking
Final Due: 1st October 2018 (all tour bookings made after this date will need to be paid in full)