Fotoeins Fotografie

revisioning place and home

Posts from the ‘Europe’ category

Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich,

My Vienna: a taste of Damascus in the 20.

Abu Elabed : an Austrian-Syrian co-production 🇦🇹🇸🇾

I’m on a 4-week stint in Vienna in late-spring/early-summer. On a bright and early weekday morning, I go out of my way to Hannovermarkt (Hanover market) in the city’s 20th district. I only have one destination in mind: to try schwarma (Döner), done Syrian style.

Abu Elabed is a market stand known for its grilled meats; you can even buy ‘em by the kilogram. Established by a lawyer and English-language teacher, both from Damascus, Syria, the stand is well-known for producing authentic food to the Syrian- and middle-East community in Vienna.

They’re open for business when I arrive at about 1030am. Through the large open windows, two vertical rotisseries accommodate rotating spits of beef and chicken. They’re already nicely browned on the outside with small pools of fat drippings in the drip pans below.

One of the staff whips out the long electric blade, slowly shaving off slices of grilled chicken. Stainless steel tongs pick up the mass of meat, slowly shaking off excess drops, so the sandwich doesn’t become drenched in fat. On the counter is laid flat a large circular piece of thin wheat-flour flatbread, onto which first is a light spread of tahine sauce, on top of which the chicken is placed. The staff looks at me expectantly: “mit allem?” (everything?)

“Mit allem; und scharf.” (Everything; and spicy.)

In goes some lettuce, diced tomatoes, red cabbage, onions, chopped gherkins, parsley, another generous dab of cool creamy yogurt Tahini sauce, and a healthy sprinkle of dried red chili powder. It all fits in nicely into a wrap, and I think that’s it. But there’s one last flourish.

The wrap is dipped into the pool at the bottom of the drip pan and is pressed against the hot rotisserie, momentarily lighting the fat on fire. Then, the wrap is placed onto a grill for a couple of minutes, lightly pressed from above with a hard plastic lid. This spreads the browning and caramelization of the dipped fat on the outside, and heats the fat and meat on the inside. The short grill time is done, the schwarma wrap is delivered in a paper envelope and napkins to this hungry salivating customer.

The grilled marinated-chicken schwarma wrap is crunchy, chewy, juicy; light yet substantive. The rich fatty flavour and crispy texture on the outside combines with the fresh crunch of the vegetables, cool tahine sauce, and the tender marinated slightly-chewy pieces of grilled chicken. The ingredients and construction of this shwarma wrap are simple, but there’s a beautiful complexity of flavour and texture in the final product.

I want more, but I have other eating to do later. I tell the staff in German I’ve come from (Vancouver) Canada for this schwarma; it is definitely worth my time out to the 20th district. For a future visit, I’m going to have to pick up and use some Arabic words.

For less than 5 Euros, I purchased 1 (beef/chicken) schwarma wrap and 1 Ayran yogurt drink.

•   German: Abu Elabed: Döner – Falafel – Tandoori Brot – Pizza – Gebäck
•   Engish: Abu Elabed: Shawarma – falafel – Tandoori bread – pizza – pastries
•   Arabic: abw aleabd: shawirma – falafil – khubz tinduri – bitza – mueajinat

Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich,

Abu Elabed, in Hannovermarkt: Döner, falafel, tandoori bread, pizza, pastries.

Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich,

Abw aleabd. Shawirma / falafil / khubz tinduri / bitza / mueajinat (below, right to left).
ابو العبد
شاورما / فلافل / خبز تندوري / بيتزا / معجنات

Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich,

Lunch for under 5€: Chicken schwarma 3.50€, Ayran yogurt drink 1€

Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich,

Schwarma choices: lamb or chicken, each on a rotating spit in a vertical rotisserie with a drip pan underneath.

Abu Elabed, Hühnerschwarma, Hannovermarkt, Wien, Vienna, Austria, Österreich,

Pocket sandwich wrap, filled with deliciousness.


Public transport with Wiener Linien:

•   U-Bahn U4 to Friedrichsbrücke station, then tram 5 or 33 to stop “Wallensteinplatz.”
•   U-Bahn U6 to Jägerstrasse station, then bus 5B or tram 33 to stop “Brigittaplatz” or stop “Wallensteinplatz.”

Thanks to Lukas Galgenmüller for his food in Vienna videos. I made all images above with an iPod Touch 6 on 31 May 2022. This post appears on Fotoeins Fotografie at fotoeins DOT com as

Danube, Donau, Christian Stemper, Wien Tourismus

My Vienna: 30 days of spring from the 6

Danube morning: photo by Christian Stemper, courtesy of Wien Tourismus (no.50401).

With this entry’s appearance, I’m on the other side of the world, 8500 kilometres away.

I dashed in and out of Vienna a handful of times between 2001 and 2003 when I lived in Heidelberg; but I have no visual records of that period in time. I’ve returned to Austria’s capital city for the first time since 2018. I wondered then how a stay in the Mariahilf, the city’s 6th district, would go.

That time is now, because I’m spending a month in the 6.

To minimize weight, I’m experimenting:
•   32-L backpack as the 1 and only piece of (carry-on) luggage, and
•   “no bricks no heavy glass”, but a compact mirrorless Fuji X70 camera.

The apartment location and neighbourhood are ideal. I’m within easy reach of the city’s U-Bahn, surrounded by the U3, U4, and U6 metro lines. I’ve already located a drugstore and several grocery stores, all inside a trivial 0.5 km (0.3 mi) walk. I’ve also been told I’ll have many Viennese coffees and several meals in the area.

There’s a lot to pursue, see, and do; and there’s no time to waste.

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My Berlin: Humboldt University’s court of honour

Above/featured: Illuminated by autumn morning light, Helmholtz stands proud in the Humboldt University’s “Ehrenhof”.

If you’re in Berlin for the first time, you’ll likely make your way to the city centre and the classic tree-lined avenue Unter den Linden. When you’re not people-watching, you’ll likely admire the architecture along the way. Across the street from Bebelplatz plaza is the main building of the Humboldt University (HU). In its front court or “court of honour” are several memorial statues dedicated to some key figures in the history of arts, sciences, and the university: Hermann Helmholtz, Lise Meitner, Max Planck, and Theodor Mommsen.

The Humboldt University was one of many stops in Berlin during my visit in November 2021.

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My Berlin: the buried Bibliothek at Bebelplatz

On a clear cool late-autumn morning, a young child is looking through an opening in the cobblestone plaza. She looks up to the man standing next to her.

Daddy, why is there a glass window? What happened here?

The thing to keep in mind is that this square in Berlin is called Bebelplatz (BAY-buhl-platz), and not Babbleplatz. It’s easy to make the mistake. After all, a great repository of books was once created inside the building seen above, in what was once home of the Königliche Bibliothek or Royal Library.

But then came along a large racist blather.

Accompanied by a big ugly fire.

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Friedhof Wannsee Lindenstrasse, Neuer Friedhof Wannsee, Friedhof Wannsee II, Berlin, Germany, Deutschland,

My Berlin: Wannsee cemetery with Helmholtz, Fischer, Conrad

Above/featured: Friedhof Wannsee Lindenstrasse with Andreaskirche in the background.

I came here looking for a physicist, but I also found a Nobel-Prize winning chemist and a successful banker.

In the southwest corner of metropolitan Berlin tucked away under rows of leafy trees in a quiet residential neighbourhood in Wannsee is a small cemetery, next to a tall red brick church Andreaskirche. With the main (east) entrance off Lindenstrasse, the cemetery is called Friedhof Wannsee Lindenstrasse; alternate names include “Neuer Friedhof Wannsee” and “Friedhof Wannsee II.” Opened in 1887, the cemetery is one of the smallest in the city with an area about 1.9 hectares (19-thousand square metres) or a shade under 5 acres.

(My day trip to Wannsee was only one element of my “quick” 11-day hop to Berlin in autumn 2021.)

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