Lavazza Caffebarwien: Coffee, Ice Cream, and Beer
Normally I wouldn't extol the virtues of an obscure ice cream parlour like Lavazza Caffebarwien, but the two friendly teenagers serving me a beautiful beer called "Fitzer" since 9:00 AM, haven't even batted an eyelid and I'm on about my sixth pint. When I first arrived, straight from my flight from Canada, and the young woman behind the ice cream counter, a brunette with huge hazel eyes and whose name tag says "Sophie", told me they could serve draft at this hour, I was ecstatic! "No problem," she said. You would think they'd eventually ask themselves, "Why is this foreigner sitting alone out there, drinking beer, and getting himself tipsy so early on a Saturday morning? Is he some sort of homeless, drunk guy?" But they don't--whenever I walk in they just smile and chirp, "Another?" The truth is that I'm too exhausted to explore the city after 24 hours of travel to get to Austria, I'm staying at the Hotel Stefanie directly across the street, room check-in isn't until noon, the beer-buzz will help me sleep when I eventually do get in, and hell, it's technically only 2 or 3:00 AM back in Canada so it's still my Friday night.
Despite my drowsiness, I'm a very happy man right now--I'm on an outdoor patio in a foreign country, I have a cold beer and full pack of cigarettes, my feet up, my backpack in front of me, a Vienna travel guide open on the the table, and it's a sunny, warm, perfect Saturday morning. The orange awning over my table casts a serene, apricot colour down around me. A great first day of vacation!
The non-stop flow of people entering and exiting Lavazza changes over the course of the morning. It began with older Italian-looking men ordering crusty-bread sandwiches and espressos to jump-start their day. Now it's families ordering multicolour ice cream creations and fantastic, gooey banana splits. I watch as parents walking by with their children attempt distraction, hoping the little one won't notice the giant, plastic, novelty ice cream cone advertisement parked right in the middle of the sidewalk. This always fails. Tears and temper-tantrums quickly ensue and almost exactly one-half the time, the child wins this battle of wills. To my surprise, these parents approach the take-out window to place the order, but always buy a cone for themselves as well. A consolation prize, maybe?
Ice cream, gelato, and frozen yoghurt seem to be a big part of the Viennese culture and this little place serves one of the biggest name brands in town--"Zanoni & Zanoni". Frozen desserts are offered seasonally at many places, and this begins in the month of March.
Over the next four days, I find myself often sitting comfortably on the patio at Lavazza and daydreaming while having a morning coffee, afternoon beer, or evening nightcap. The service here is so good, there's never a wait time, always a place to sit down, and it's a perfect place to people watch. It's not a glamorous restaurant, an architectural miracle, a sea of tranquility, a trendy hangout, or anything else like that, but I'm so very glad to have found "my spot" in Vienna.