“Be’Teavon” (= Hebrew), “Es gezunderheyt” (= Yiddish), “Guten Appetit” (= German)!
I’ve been to Vienna many times now. The first time was with my father – he still loves telling people the story: When I was about 13, I did the whole city by myself while he was at a conference and then in the evenings I would guide him around the amazing places I had found. I’ve since been here for work (Japanese media related conferences) and this time my brother Mark had a conference in the city and he got us a nice big apartment in the city centre on AirBnB, so off we went!
Of course we to the iconic St Stephen’s Cathedral. You can wander inside for free – it’s huge and there was a cute installation where you can write your wishes onto some paper and hang it onto sculptures. We did this and then walked around the outside to the entrance of the South Tower, which loomes 136.44 meters up. This equates as 343 steps. If you are any kind of claustrophobic, I would recommend a different tower that has a lift. Instead we felt crazy and walked up and up and up. The staircase is TINY.
We were lucky it was Thursday and a bit rainy, trying to get past people going in the opposite direction was a bit scary, so I can’t imagine what it would be like in the middle of summer over a weekend. It cost €4.50 and you will definitely feel dizzy, possibly faint and completely out of breath when you finally reach the top, but the views are amazing! Be warned – the way down is probably even more scary than ascending! The tower used to be the tallest building in the city and the fire department was positioned at the top to watch out for fires to warn their colleagues at the bottom where to rush to.
You all know how much I love FOOD, so next stop was the Jewish Museum Vienna as their “Kosher for … Eating and tradition in Judaism” interested me (until 8th March, €10 includes whole museum). They explain the rules of kosher eating, the rules that exist when preparing a meal for Jewish people. Eating in Jewish culture is as important as in any other culture and has been influenced by history and the area in which Jewish people have lived. Half of my family is Jewish. None of my immediate family are practicing Jews or in any way religious, but if you go further afield, my family are very religious. So whilst growing up, we got to experience various Jewish customs and I really enjoyed the little exhibition.
They give you eight questions, which they then answer one room at a time, including: do all Jewish households have two kitchens and were there pigs on Noah’s Ark and what is in Matzo? It’s small and quaint and didn’t take long to look around, but it’s fun and I learnt a lot. In the Torah, it says ‘goat’s must not be boiled in their mother’s milk‘ – from this many Jews believe they must eat meat and dairy separately. In fact, they may not use the same utensils or even the same cutlery when they are eating meat and dairy. Because of this, many people have two kitchens, or one big kitchen and they will only use one side depending on what they are eating. Also, people will wait 1, 3, or even 6 hours after eating meat to have a dairy product, it depends on family traditions local customs.
My favourite quote:
Every cooking tradition tells a story. Jewish dishes tell the story of an uprooted, wandering people and its vanished worlds. (Claudia Roden)
It was good, but it’s almost at an end, so go quick if you can.
Then of course we have eaten lots today. I have a list of things I want to tick off, and today we managed Wiener Schnitzel (and sneaky spare ribs just because OMG NOM), Danish pastries, Apfel Strudel and Almdudler, which is a fizzy drink. We had dinner at Siebensternbräu, which was recommended by our AirBnB host and it was amazing. We ate literally hours ago and I’m still so full I’ve had to open my trousers. Too much information I’m sure, but if you are looking for somewhere really friendly and local with great atmosphere, go here! They are a microbrewery, so if you like beer, it’s a hidden gem!