We would like to have spent more than two days in Vienna, but camping in the big city isn’t so easy and most things we wanted to do cost money. We had to curb our appetite for culture and try to get our fill of it in a short time. Wandering around the shopping district in downtown Vienna was fascinating.
So many good quality items cried out to me, “Buy me! Take me home with you!” but I restrained myself and allowed myself only one major indulgence – a bottle of Diorissimo Eau de Cologne.
Looks like I’ve used exactly half of it in 36 years so at that rate, I should be able to make it last for the rest of my life.
We found a wonderful place to have supper that evening. Beer and wine are a big thing in Austria so it was no wonder the huge sign in the shape of an oak cask outside this restaurant caught our eye. The name of the place roughly translated to The Barrel Inn.
Imagine a huge version of this oak barrel lying on its side.
Now picture it with a bench on either side of a table built inside it, and a window on the outside wall. That was our “booth” – very private and cozy. Several barrel booths lay side by side on either side of an aisle, each accommodating dinner guests.
We ordered a standard Viennese meal of roast pork, bread dumpling, red cabbage, and other vegetables, salad, and wine, followed by Slivovitz (a fiery liqueur of fermented and distilled plums) and a Natasha Cocktail (apricot brandy, vodka and vermouth with a bit of ginger ale), coffees and Apfelstrudel. All of this cost us the equivalent of $20 total.
That night we parked the van in a street of apartment parking since all the RV camping places were closed. It was a terrible night. I awoke every two minutes to check out noises and shivered with cold all night.
The next day we felt quite depressed. Nothing cheers us up like food, so we thought we should stop thinking and talking about that heavenly meal we had the night before and do something about it. We could go to another restaurant, but we thought, “Why mess with perfection?” We returned to the keg restaurant. We sat in the same barrel, in the same spot as the night before and – yes, you guessed it – we ordered exactly the same meal again with one small difference.
We decided to experiment with the choice of wines. I tried out my very rusty German and asked what kind of wines they had. The waiter rattled off a list of fancy wines and their year and ended with one called Heuriger (pronounced “hoy-rigger”). I asked what year the Heuriger was and the waiter looked at me with a puzzled expression.
“What do you mean, ma’am?”
“Well, the wines all have a year, and I wondered what year the Heuriger was.”
He looked as if the cat had got his tongue, and he stammered, “Nah … nah … heuer, natuerlich.”
“OHhhhhhh!” I exclaimed, and then I turned beet red as I remembered that “heuer” means “this year.” It was this year’s wine, just the way soup du jour is not a flavour of soup but rather the soup of the day.
I’m sure I was the talk of the restaurant kitchen that night.