After getting my bearings in this small and lovely city I set out sample more of Vienna’s culinary delights. At the recommendation of an Austrian friend, I make my way to Cafe Central for breakfast. It’s an amazing space, grand in every way with amazingly high ceilings and gorgeous chandeliers Opened in 1876, it has been a key meeting place for politicians and intellectuals throughout history including Leon Trotsky, Sigmund Freud, Adolf Hitler and Vladimir Lenin to name a few.
I pick a seat in the back so that I can take it all in and people watch. Everyone seems to be having the “Viennese breakfast” which is a soft boiled egg with 2 pieces of bread and coffee. I choose the same. Vienna is famous for their coffee culture and so decide to try something called Kaffe Melange, which is coffee with a mixture of milk and cream.
I was thinking that Vienna would be culturally Western European, but I am realizing that it is a blend of Western and Eastern Europe. When discussing this, a friend tells me it is the “gateway to the Baltic.” I hear a lot of Russian being spoken on the streets in addition to German. As I do a bit of shopping, I observe a lot of Eastern European women coming out of Hermes and Louis Vuitton loaded down with bags. Whereas I am just excited to be able to buy my favourite Wolford stockings at a discount – another Austrian brand, famous for having what some consider to be the best stockings one can buy.
Shopping areas here are walking streets, closed to traffic and for some reason even mid-day on a weekday in snowy weather, the shopping areas are full.
After securing my stockings and browsing in a few stores, I decide it’s time to seek out the Sacher Hotel’s and try the famous Sacher Torte whose origins date back to the 18th century. This on the list of ‘must visit’ foodie experiences in Vienna.
So I order a Sacher Torte and another Kaffe Melange and to be honest I am totally underwhelmed. While the chocolate icing and layer of jam is a wonderful combination of flavours, the cake underneath is quite dry. So I really don’t see what all the fuss is about. I have had more exciting desserts come out of my own kitchen and I don’t even really like to bake.
It gets dark very early here, starting around 3:30pm and being fully dark by around 4pm. This photo was taken about 3:45pm on the shopping pedestrian street by the Hotel Sacher.
And as the day comes to a close, I return back to the hotel. I am particularly excited about tonight because I am meeting some friends from Bangkok tonight who now live in Vienna. I actually thought they were in Munich…turns out they were, but through the miracle of Facebook, I come to realize they are now living in Vienna and we will meet. giving me the wonderful opportunity to catch up with old friends and see the city through a “local” perspective.
Read about more food and fun in Vienna later in the final installment, Vienna Part #3.