The Scamp in Israel Day 5

Israel is not just deserts and old cities. It has a large agricultural region in the north that has an abundance of fresh water and serves as a major stopover for birds during migration. The Hula Valley has a marshland and reserve where the birds are protected and have a safe place to stop during their long journey between Africa, Europe and Asia.

When we toured the valley it was really hot, and honestly, I wasn’t that interested. We weren’t there during migration, so there weren’t a lot of birds and the bus life and listening to the cultural ignorance of some of the other members were really working on my nerves.

From the Hula Valley, we drove to Mount Bental. Mount Bental is located in Golan Heights and there is an old bunker left over from the old Syrian border. The old army bunkers are now open to the public, having been left over from the Yom Kippur War 1973. According to Wikipedia (because I cannot remember everything that Rafi told us during the visit):

The Yom Kippur War, also known as the Ramadan War, the October War,[72] the 1973 Arab–Israeli War, or the Fourth Arab–Israeli War, was an armed conflict fought from October 6 to 25, 1973 between Israel and a coalition of Arab states led by Egypt and Syria. The majority of combat between the two sides took place in the Sinai Peninsula and the Golan Heights—both of which were occupied by Israel in 1967—with some fighting in African Egypt and northern Israel.[73][74] Egypt’s initial objective in the war was to seize a foothold on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and subsequently leverage these gains to negotiate the return of the rest of the Israeli-occupied Sinai Peninsula.[75][76][77][78],led%20by%20Egypt%20and%20Syria.

This was one of the largest tank wars, and by some miracle, Israel won with only 160 tanks. Rafi was a tank man and had a lot of personal stories, and since my dad is a tank man, so he especially enjoyed this part of the trip. At the top of the mountain, you can see all the way to Syria and Lebanon, which really puts in perspective how close the borders are and how precarious this part of the world is.

On the walk from the car park to the bunker, the path was lined with some amazing artwork made out of recycled parts. There was a massive pirate ship that I would have loved to take home with me. PRC certainly would have enjoyed it.

The last stop of the day was at the Tel Shifon Winery. The winery is in a kibbutz and we were able to sample a selection of wine. The tour group sat at massive tables, but because my dad wandered off, there were no seats for us. We sat on some couches near the group, but Rafi sat with us, and because he knew the manager, we got full glasses of wine and chat with Rafi about Israel, his time in the army and his family. It was much better than having to make small talk with the people driving me crazy. Even Raif was amazed at some of the people and their questions. By the time we got to the winery, I think he was happy for the break. The winery had its own tank among the vines which was not something I have seen before.

We ended the day back in Tiberias where we enjoyed dinner at a Lebanese restaurant called Hermitage Tiberias. They had a really cool room that was a stone cutout and we tried a little bit of the local cuisine. Once again we watched the difficult woman in our tour group complain about the way the fish was cooked and the service and generally everything about the restaurant. We weren’t sitting with her, but it was pretty embarrassing how rude she was. The restaurant seemed to be family owned, the staff who served us were okay, and the food was delicious. I was proud of my parents for trying the food there as they are not always the most adventurous of eaters (or at least my mom isn’t).

I feel a bit bad that I didn’t write things down as they happened because we learned so much at each of the places. I was in such need of a vacation that I didn’t journal as I usually do, and now months later, I find myself struggling to remember some of what I learned. I think I know now why my mom saves all the maps and brochures from places. I probably need to start doing that.

The Scamp in Israel Day 4

On the bus bright and early for a trip to Caesarea, a coastal area between Tel Aviv and Haifa. It is a national park on the coast that features ancient ruins including the old palace, an amphitheatre still used for concerts today, and an old chariot racing area. It was all built by King Herod . Just outside the park is Adquaduct Beach, where you can enjoy not only an amazing beach but the marvel of the aqueduct. It was warm and there was a total lack of shade, but I love a good wander through history. Rafi has a way of telling you things like they are a story rather than just listing off facts, but the number of annoying questions asked by one of the men in the group caused me to disengage a bit and just soak up the sunshine on my own.

From there we travelled north to the city of Haifa, often called the ‘Capital of the North’. We stopped at the Bahai Gardens, which are considered one of the holiest places for the Bahai faith.

Before we arrived at the gardens, I’d never heard of the Bahai religion. It has been a while since the tour, and I did not write everything down as it happened, so I went to good old Wikipedia to help me out. According to them, Bahai:

The Baháʼí Faith is a religion founded in the 19th century that teaches the essential worth of all religions and the unity of all people. Established by Baháʼu’lláh, it initially developed in Iran and parts of the Middle East, where it has faced ongoing persecution since its inception. The religion is estimated to have 5–8 million adherents, known as Baháʼís, spread throughout most of the world’s countries and territories.

The Baháʼí Faith has three central figures: the Báb (1819–1850), considered a herald who taught his followers that God would soon send a prophet who would be similar to Jesus or Muhammad and was executed by the Iranian authorities in 1850; Baháʼu’lláh (1817–1892), who claimed to be that prophet in 1863 and faced exile and imprisonment for most of his life; and his son, ʻAbdu’l-Bahá (1844–1921), who was released from confinement in 1908 and made teaching trips to Europe and the United States. After ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s death in 1921, the leadership of the religion fell to his grandson Shoghi Effendi (1897–1957). Baháʼís annually elect local, regional, and national Spiritual Assemblies that govern the religion’s affairs, and every five years an election is held for the Universal House of Justice, the nine-member supreme governing institution of the worldwide Baháʼí community that is located in Haifa, Israel, near the Shrine of the Báb.

According to Baháʼí teachings, religion is revealed in an orderly and progressive way by a single God through Manifestations of God, who are the founders of major world religions throughout human history; Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad are noted as the most recent of these before the Báb and Baháʼu’lláh. Baháʼís regard the world’s major religions as fundamentally unified in purpose, but diverging in terms of social practices and interpretations. The Baháʼí Faith stresses the unity of all people as its core teaching and explicitly rejects notions of racism, sexism, and nationalism. At the heart of Baháʼí teachings is the goal of a unified world order that ensures the prosperity of all nations, races, creeds, and classes.

After some time to see the garden, we headed southeast to Nazareth. Now those of you who are familiar with the Bible will be really familiar with Nazareth. It is the centre of Christian pilgrimages and the birthplace of Mary. It is the home of the Church of Annunciation.

The Church of Annunciation is a really interesting church. It is said to be built on the spot where the Angel Gabriel came to Mary to tell her that she would give birth to Yeshua. The church was built over the site that is said to be the house of Mary (the photo of the altar) and what is said to be Joseph’s workshop. I made friends with the local cats and tried my best to get a kitten into my bag, but he was not quite ready to give up his life hustling tourists for snacks.

The last stop of the day was in the city of Tiberias on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. I had a room with a view….but broke the balcony door when I tried to open it, and had two slightly disgruntled men spend 30 minutes in my room trying to fix it. Luckily my room was connected to my parent’s room, so I just opened the connecting door and hung out in their room while I waited. I swear it was not my fault.

Since we were there for Shabbos, we had a traditional Shabbat dinner, complete with prayers. Now, I’m not super religious by any means, but I do respect the tradition, and I was on a cultural holiday, so more than willing to embrace everything.

….and this is where the problems started. My mom and I were the only Jewish people on the tour, so we had to endure a lot of cultural ignorance. Because it was Saturday, the lifts were in shabbos mode, which means they stop on every floor so that people do not have to push the buttons and ‘do work’ which is prohibited on Saturdays. There were Hasidic and Conservative Jews staying at the hotel, and they take their customs seriously. I ended up sitting next to a woman from Kentucky who was travelling alone. She started the dinner by complaining about the lift being in Shabbos mode and dragging the tradition. She then complained about the rooms, having asked to change rooms three times. She complained about the bar not having bartenders who spoke English (everyone I encountered on the entire trip spoke enough English to help with whatever we needed) and then complained that she couldn’t get a gin and tonic. I tried to explain that Jewish people aren’t really spirit drinkers and that for Shabbos we drink wine, but since it wasn’t expensive white wine, she wasn’t having it. I tried my best to educate her on Judaism and remind her that just because she found aspects of the religion inconvenient, didn’t mean that they weren’t worth respecting. I left the dinner early because I spent all day being respectful of Christian sites of worship, and this woman couldn’t spend half an hour learning about my religion. Sometimes it is exhausting being Jewish and constantly having to deal with ignorance, antisemitism (not that what she was doing was antisemitism), and stereotypes that get hurled at you. Living in Scotland, I constantly hear that I am the first Jewish person that someone has met, and I am nothing like they thought a Jewish person would look or act like.

The best part of the hotel was that the places in the area fed the local feral cats, so there were plenty of little gatitos to pet. I found yet another that I wanted to bring home with me….at least until he bit me when I tried to pet him instead of feed him.

The Scamp in Isreal Day 2 and 3

My second day in Tel Aviv was spent doing one of my favourite things: hunting for Miro’s paintings. While I love being able to spend time with my parents, I also value my solo wandering time, so while they wandered the beach, I took myself to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. First built in 1932, it became the site for the signing of the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

The museum did not disappoint. It had a good collection of some of my favourite artists, including Joan Miro.

After my culture shot, I spent some more time by the pool with my mom and then we met the tour group. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole thing when we first met Rafi our guide. I was the youngest, but unlike previous trips, not the only one travelling solo. Usually, the Insight Tours are full of couples and families, so it was a nice change of pace to have some other solo travellers…..or so I thought (but more on that later, because it gets really interesting).

The first official day of the tour started with a drive around Tel Aviv and a trip back to Carmel Market, although it was more of a quick walk-through. We then ventured down the seaside to the old city of Jaffa to see the famous clock tower and the harbour. Jaffa is most known for its biblical stories of St Peter, Jonah and Solomon, and is also known for its oranges (for those of you in the UK, think Jafa cakes, which are made with Jafa oranges).

As we wandered the old city we got to see the suspended orange tree, an art installation constructed in 1993 by artist Ran Morin. According to Atlas Obscura:

The roots are enclosed in a large earthenware container and the trunk emanates from a large crack near the top. It’s as if the tree is breaking free of its confines into the warm courtyard air outside. Morin intended for the tree to draw parallels with society’s relationship with nature.

What I quickly learned on day 1 of the tour was that Rafi, our tour guide was an amazing man who really knew his history. He had degrees in Sociology, Theology, biology and had been a tour guide for many years. He is a nationalist and grew up as a conservative Jew. He served in the military and especially loves meeting Jewish people who are in Israel for the first time. When he learned that my mom and I were Jewish, he made sure to point things out to us and sit with us at lunch. He also had the patience of a saint to deal with some of the questions that people asked. I have a hard time dealing with the ignorance of others, but some of these people took it to a whole new level. Thank goodness my parents are not always interested in making friends with the people on the bus and we were able to have dinner on our own in an Irish pub….because where else would we take a crusty old Irishman?

The Scamp Visits the Homeland

Happy Passover! I am lucky enough to have been able to sneak away from Edinburgh and come to Prague for a few days. While here, I promised myself that I would catch up on all the fun things I wanted to write about but lost the motivation for. That starts with the trip that I took to Israel in September of 2022.

I’ve wanted to visit Israel for years. I tried to do birthright when I was younger, but just never made it work, so when my parents were ready to come to visit me after a long pandemic, my dad suggested that we take my mom to Israel to celebrate her 65th birthday. I was totally on board with the idea, and my mom went to her trusty Insight Vacations and found an Israel/Palestine trip that was jam-packed with history and culture. We decided to meet in London and travel from there to Israel together, and it was the first time I got to be in the same room with my parents in more than a year.

Needless to say, I was a very happy Kim. We landed in Israel after midnight but had a a couple of days before the tour started to do as we pleased in Tel Aviv. We wandered along the beach to an outdoor market and enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather. The Shuk Hacarmel or Carmel Market is the largest outdoor market in Tel Aviv. According to Tourist Israel:

The Carmel Market first opened in 1920, some eleven years after the establishment of the city. It is an integral part of the history of Tel Aviv. Although much of the trade has now shifted to modern malls and the internet, the market is still immensely popular. Its narrow street is busy whenever you visit, particularly before Shabbat on Thursdays and Fridays, as residents buy supplies for their family meals. Recent years have seen a growing number of boutique stalls and food places opening alongside the traditional traders. They range from boutique beers to arrays of halva, and small eateries who take advantage of the market’s produce.

The Carmel Market is relatively simple in layout and location. The ‘Shuk’ occupies one street which runs south from the junction of King George Street, Allenby, and Sheinkin Street to the Carmelit Bus depot in the south. The side streets off of the market also host some small traders. The activity is not as spread out as in Jerusalem’s main market, Machane Yehuda.

One of the best things about the first hotel was the rooftop pool. Summers in Scotland aren’t really known for their sunshine, so I am usually in desperate need of a tan (even now, I am appallingly white after a long harsh winter). We ended the first day in my favourite way…..getting tattooed. I can usually talk my mom into a tattoo, but this time I was able to talk my dad into not one, but two tattoos! I’ve been getting tattooed for 18 years and he has never been okay with it, but I was finally able to talk him into it, and now he has a cross and Star of David to represent his family. We went to Kipod Tattoo shop, and both got tattooed by Lera Torgovitsky. She was amazing! She’d done her time in the military, and when we saw her, she was getting ready to take her mom to a music festival in Sweden. I absolutely loved her, and so did my dad.

It has been months, and I still cannot believe that my dad actually got tattooed.

The Scamp Comes Back After More Time Off

Depression is a strange thing. It pops up when you least expect it, and for me, it kills the joy of doing almost everything, even writing. I used to love writing and loved keeping this blog up to date. In the last couple of years though, it has been harder and harder to find the motivation to do much more than ensure I don’t get fired. Now that winter is finally over and daylight lasts a little bit longer, I hope that things will sort themselves out.

One of my biggest fears is that I will wake up in ten years and not realise all of that time has passed. Next week will be four years at the University of Glasgow, and I have no idea how that happened. The pandemic was a blur of nonstop work and three years later, not much has changed. I feel like my cycle of burnout at work comes faster and faster now. Because I don’t have the free time that I did when I was a PhD student, the trips and adventures are too few and far between. The ridiculous cost of living and travel hasn’t helped either. So, because of that, I have spent far too much time on my couch overworked and underappreciated, and at the end of the day, I do not feel like I have anything fun or interesting to say. In essence, my worst fear has come true. This has left me feeling restless and cagey and very very grumpy. I am tired of feeling tired and very tired of feeling negative.

It also does not help that addiction has claimed the life of yet another brother. He died almost 7 years to the day that the other brother died, which has made it extra difficult for my dad. At least this time my mom was with him and not here with me. I still worry about my dad though because he takes most of the blame for it, and isn’t really interested in something like grief counselling. It has been a few months now and things are starting to find their way back to a new normal, but it is hard to be so far away from everyone. I’m never really sure how anyone is holding up, and I have had to do all of my processing solo, which isn’t always fun.

I have decided that in an effort to pull myself out of my slump, I will revisit the trips that I took at the end of 2022 that I did not chronicle as they happened. I’m headed to Prague next week for some real time off, and plan to do as much writing for fun as possible and enjoy a short city break.

The Scamp Gets Back to Writing

April was the last time I sat down and wrote anything for fun. Honestly, my job is killing me, and I’ve not had the energy to sit down and write for fun. There is, however, a backlog of things to write about, so as long as I find some motivation, then I can fill some pages.

In May I made a break from work and the not-so-warm weather and headed to Sal, Cape Verde. Cape Verde is a country in West Africa, located off the west coast of Senegal. Sal is a small island, and there is not much to do on the island but relax on the perfect, white sandy beach and enjoy the perfect weather and clear clean water. The entire week I spent on the island was 25, and there was only one cloudy day. I was honestly looking for just that environment. I stayed at The Morabeza Hotel which had really pretty grounds and some no-frills rooms that had a lovely balcony. The hotel was situated next to where the fishermen worked, so I could watch them walk fresh fish from the sea to the restaurant. The food was really tasty. They even have security staff that walk around the hotel grounds to keep everyone safe.

Armed with a book of crossword puzzles, a sci-fi novel and a massive bottle of SPF 50, I was determined to get a tan and relax. Little did I know that the island was also filled with dogs who run wild on the beach and are very happy to hang out with humans. Between that and the warm weather, I was in complete heaven.

I fell in love with two of the dogs. I even looked up what it would take to bring them back to Scotland with me. Then I decided it was probably better if I moved to Sal because the puppies at the beach had sunshine and warm weather, and I couldn’t give them all of that in Edinburgh. I was forced to leave a big piece of my heart on the island with my puppy protector. The part of the island where I stayed is almost 100% dependent on tourists, so the locals are constantly trying to get you to buy trinkets or go on a tour of the island, and while the resort keeps them off the property, they can’t keep them off the beach. While none of the people made me feel unsafe, I did feel a bit uncomfortable. This dog came and sat with me and would growl at anyone that got too close to me. As you can see from the photos above, he napped when he felt I was safe. On the days the dog wasn’t around, I hung out at the pool and enjoyed a soft lounge chair, a warm salt pool and views of the ocean.

The only downside to the holiday was I really was on my own. I didn’t really speak to people, and I did miss that a little. Usually, when I travel solo I go on tours, I have a lot of things to do to keep me busy, and I don’t really mind if I don’t speak to a lot of people. This time, there wasn’t much of that, and I did not feel super comfortable wandering outside of the resort on my own. I did walk to the local Irish pub (about 4 mins from the hotel) a couple of times to get dinner, and the staff there were lovely, and the food was amazing. If I returned to the island, I’d do it with someone just to ease that loneliness a bit.

All in all, though, I felt very relaxed when I came home, and enjoyed my first introduction to Africa. I enjoyed a different type of vacation than I am used to, actually felt a bit more relaxed when I got home, got enough vitamin d to last until summer really started.

The Scamp Goes on an Adventure: Day 5 and 6

By day 5 I was tired. I’d walked, I’d explored, I’d eaten, and I needed to rest. I stayed inside most of the day and watched Netflix and wrote in my adventure diary. In the afternoon, I did my favourite thing: I got tattooed. I went to Dot and Daggers Tattoo ( and they were able to fit me in last minute. I’d booked in a session with them in November, but it got cancelled when they went back into lockdown. The shop was my favourite type of shop: good music, friendly staff and amazing artwork. I got a hummingbird skull and some flowers to go with the desert happening on my arm. It was worth every second.

My last day in the city was a sunny and warmish day, so I spent the day in the park. But not just any park. The park at the Schönbrunn Palace. This was the summer palace for the Habsburgs. According to Wikipedia:

The 1,441-room Rococo palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. It has been a major tourist attraction since the mid-1950s.

I bought a new duck and ended the day finding an old mosaic of a cow and a wolf playing backgammon. According to Atlas Obscura:

IN THE 15TH CENTURY, ENEA Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, better known later in life as Pope Pius II, described all the fine houses of Vienna as being painted inside and out with fabulous scenery. Like the marginalia found in illuminated manuscripts, the houses would have featured religious and historic portraiture, along with some humorous imagery for good measure.

These medieval murals have mostly been destroyed by time, but one, of the humorous variety, can be seen today on a house in Vienna’s historic center. The facade of the Hasenaus (“Hare House”) features a wolf and a cow in spectacles engaged in a game of backgammon. Behind the board are the legs of a man, who appears to be holding a fly swatter, perhaps to attend to the players.

One explanation for this absurd scene is that it is an allegory for the political tensions between Protestants and Catholics. It’s not clear who’s winning. Others have suggested that the man behind the game is a furrier eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the game so he can take the hide of the loser.

The wall painting dates approximately to 1509. The house would have been originally been covered with scenes of medieval life, in particular one large motif of a rabbit hunt (hence the name). But when it was refurbished in the 18th century, all but the backgammon game was lost. Luckily, it has been carefully preserved so that Viennese and visitors alike can admire it, wondering what it’s supposed to mean. 

The mural was down an unassuming side street, and I am glad that I detoured to find it. I returned to Scotland feeling like I’d had proper time off, got some good culture and allowed myself to separate from my work for a bit. It was a really good way to end my 34th year.

Totally ready for the next adventure. s

The Scamp Goes on an Adventure: Day 4

My trip to Bratislava meant that I got to cross an item off my bucket list: Listen to the Bratislava Hot Serenaders in Bratislava. I first saw them in 2016 (I think) and the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. They were amazing and fun. If you’ve never heard of them enjoy:

Broken Record by the Bratislava Hot Serenaders

I’ll admit, when I went to see them I was painfully ignorant about Bratislava. The only thing I knew was it was the capital of Slovakia. I enjoyed the performance so much though that I thought it would be great to one day visit the city and experience a little Slovakian culture.

Flashforward to 2022. I hopped on a bus in Vienna and 1 hour later I was in the town square. According to Wikipedia:

 Bratislava is in southwestern Slovakia at the foot of the Little Carpathians, occupying both banks of the River Danube and the left bank of the River Morava. Bordering Austria and Hungary, it is the only national capital that borders two sovereign states.[6]

The city’s history has been influenced by people of many nations and religions, including AustriansBulgariansCroatsCzechsGermansHungariansJewsSerbs[7] and Slovaks.[8] It was the coronation site and legislative center and capital of the Kingdom of Hungary from 1536 to 1783;[9] eleven Hungarian kings and eight queens were crowned in St Martin’s Cathedral. Most Hungarian parliament assemblies were held here from the 17th century until the Hungarian Reform Era, and the city has been home to many Hungarian, German and Slovak historical figures.

Today Bratislava is the politicalcultural and economic centre of Slovakia. It is the seat of the Slovak president, the parliament and the Slovak Executive. It has several universities, and many museums, theatres, galleries and other cultural and educational institutions.[10] Many of Slovakia’s large businesses and financial institutions have headquarters there.

My first stop was a Synagogue because Bratislava has a very proud Jewish culture and history. I started at ŽIDOVSKÁ STREET (JEWISH STREET). This was the only place that Jewish people were allowed to live from 1599-1840. There is a memorial there to commemorate the space. The synagogue wasn’t open when I was there, but I made sure to go by for a visit. The next spot I went to was the CHATAM SOFER MEMORIAL. According to their website:

The Chatam Sofer Memorial in Bratislava is a unique Jewish heritage site – the sole remaining part of the centuries-old Jewish cemetery that was destroyed in 1943 when the nearby tunnel was constructed. Only the most important section, with 23 graves surrounding the Chatam Sofer’s tomb, was preserved as an underground compound. In 2000-2002, the whole site was redeveloped and the gravestones were restored. The architect Martin Kvasnica designed a striking new complex that adheres to the strict requirements of the halakhah (Jewish law) as well as to the highest standards of contemporary architecture.

Chatam Sofer is said to be the father of Orthodox Judaism, and his tomb is a pilgrimage site for many Orthodox Jews.

At first, I was a bit confused about the memorial. I wasn’t sure if it was something that anyone could visit, or if you had to be guided. I passed a very serious Hasidic Jewish man and then a family who was being guided by someone who worked nearby. When I asked him if it was a place that anyone could visit, he immediately launched into a well-practised spiel about how it was not a museum but a very serious place of worship for Jewish people. He explained that he had a bus full of Hasidic men from Tel Aviv about to arrive on a pilgrimage and that it was a very serious place. I explained to him that I was Jewish, that was part of the reason for the visit and that I had done my homework before coming down, so I understood the importance of the memorial.

I’m not sure he was convinced, but because I was wearing modest clothes and my head was covered, he was willing to take me into the women’s section and allow me to pray for a bit. He made me feel like I wasn’t Jewish enough to be there, and I was a little embarrassed that I had misunderstood the space, so I thanked him for his willingness to let me in, but I would respect the seriousness of the place and not enter. As I walked away, I felt really strange. I am Jewish, but having to prove my ‘Jewishness’ made me feel like I was somehow an imposter. I would say I am more of a cultural Jew, the history and the importance of the culture is more important to me than the religious aspects, but the fact that I was made to feel like an ‘other’ for that didn’t sit well. So, I did the most Jewish thing I could do and felt guilty for even thinking I could enter the space. I let my imposter syndrome win. I may not be as learned in the Torah, and not as deeply religious as those men on the bus, but I had every right to enter that important space and take in the history.

I continued my wander around the city, visiting the Blue Church (The Church of St Elizabeth), the castle and looked for two famous statues, NAPOLEONIC SOLDIER (NAPOLEÓNEC), and RUBBERNECK (ČUMIL)

All in all, I enjoyed my day in the city and even found a rubber duck to represent my visit. The people that I met in the shops when I got lunch and when I got the duck were nice, but not overly friendly, and I am not sure if I would need to visit again, but I am glad that I made the trip.

The Scamp Goes on an Adventure: Day 3

I woke on day 3 feeling sore. I was not used to walking so much and not just being sat in front of a computer all day, and my poor feet were mad at me.

My first stop was at the Jewish Museum. I try and visit the Jewish quarter of every country that I visit, and the Jewish culture in Vienna is especially important as they were all but wiped out by the Nazis during WWII. The first museum houses the remains of the temple that was destroyed in 1421 and marks where the Jewish quarter used to be. At that time, Jewish people were rounded up and murdered, and their history and culture long buried.

The women’s section of the synagogue destroyed in 1421.

The museum also includes a look at the Jewish culture today and how people feel about living in Vienna. One of the exhibits was called The Vienna Rothschilds. A Thriller. According to the museum:

‘The exhibition presents the history of the Rothschild family in Vienna and Austria. Since the activities and accomplishments of the Viennese Rothschilds have faded from memory, it is important to call them to mind with this exhibition and to make their traces visible.

The rise of the Rothschild family began in the early 19th century with Mayer Amschel Rothschild, a Jew from a humble background in Frankfurt. He carved out a career through hard work and sent his five sons out into the world, one of them to Vienna: Salomon von Rothschild. As a banker to the Austrian State Chancellor Metternich, he quickly became one of Austria’s leading entrepreneurs. The name Rothschild served as a positive symbol for a Jewish success story, but also a negative cliché in antisemitic propaganda.

The story of the Rothschilds in Vienna and Austria reads in parts like a thriller. They had to assert themselves against competitors, became ensnarled in conflicts and were confronted with antisemitic stereotypes. But they repeatedly stood up for their oppressed and persecuted fellow believers and established numerous educational and charitable foundations for the general public.

In 1938, the Gestapo arrested Louis Rothschild and held him hostage for a year to extort the Rothschild’s entire fortune. After the end of the Second World War, a large part of their stolen property was restituted, but they had to forcibly “donate” important works to Austrian museums. The restitution proceedings have dragged on to this day. Yet the story of the Rothschilds in Austria continues.’

I’d never heard this story before, and it was ridiculous. Imagine being robbed and then robbed again under the guise of ‘donating’ to museums for the enjoyment of others. The way that Jewish people are treated in some countries is almost beyond comprehension. My next stop was at the Shoah Memorial. It is in the centre of the Judenplatz (‘Jews Square’). The memorial is beautiful and tragic at the same time. British artist Rachel Whiteread designed the memorial. Around the outside of the memorial are the places in Austria where the Nazis murdered Jews and the memorial itself looks like a large concrete cube, but if you look closely you will see ripples in the cube that look like books. There are 65,000 books, one that represents the story for each of the Jewish people who died in one of the camps.

Once I had gotten my spiritual fulfilment, I walked to the Albertina for more art. I almost skipped this museum. I’m not sure what made me go in, but oh boy, it was one of the best parts of the trip. The Albertina holds amazing works by Monet, Picasso, Cézanne, Degas, Klimt, Kandinsky, Miro and Warhol. Basically all of the artists that I love. I had no idea that there were so many Warhols in Vienna, and even more shocked to see three Miros! He is my favourite artist. I have one of his paintings tattooed on me. This little unexpected surprise was amazing. I could have cried I was so happy.

I gave my poor feet a break and spent the rest of the day enjoying the funky hotel and eating cake. I really wanted to plan some day trips one to Czechia and one to Slovakia so I spent the evening trying to figure out if there was a way I could make it happen. I miss the pre-Covid days when it was just a matter of getting on a train or a bus. Czechia was unfortunately ruled out pretty quickly because of their Covid test rules, but I was able to figure out how to get to Bratislava quite easily. God love public transportation.

The Scamp Goes on an Adventure Day 2

I’m finding it difficult to find the time to write out all of the amazing things that I got to see in Vienna. Most of my energy went into applying for my own job and being sad about having stepped on a scale and seen how much I actually weigh.

But back to the important things: sightseeing in Vienna. Day 2 was just as great as day 1. I started the day in a library. The State Hall of the Austrian National Library was stunning.

The State Hall – built in the 18th century as part of the former Court Library – is a breathtaking 80 metres long and 20 metres high. An intricately decorated dome and numerous frescos provide an imperial flair. This baroque jewel is home to over 200,000 tomes. Four magnificent Venetian globes, each with a diameter of over one metre, provide the finishing touch to the heart of the Austrian National Library.

The photos that I took do not do the library justice but suffice to say, I was a very happy Kim.

My next stop was Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna. This museum is known for housing the Habsburg art and antiques. There was a lot of gold plated and bejewelled everything. The museum had artefacts from ancient Greece, from Egypt and a picture gallery full of amazing art. I spent a good three hours here wandering around. The only bummer was there were not a lot of English translations, so there were some things that I couldn’t follow along with, which was a bit of a bummer. I did a bit of googling though and that helped.

The last stop of the day was to the Vienna Naschmarkt. The smells of spices and sausage and fresh fruit and veg just seep into your pores when you enter the market. I did a lot of browsing, but did not buy anything.

In addition to the market, I was also on the hunt for the Ampelpärchen, or diversity themed traffic lights inspired by Eurovision. They were so fun to spot, but difficult to photograph. I ended the day getting sausage in a giant bread roll from one of the street vendors and enjoying the view in the popular historic square. I don’t usually eat meat when I am on vacation, but you can’t really go to Vienna and not eat a Vienna sausage. It was every bit as good as I hoped it would be.