The train from Budapest brought us to Vienna at lunchtime. We were famished by the time we reached our hotel but it wasn’t yet time to check-in so we left our bags and headed out with only one place in mind, a must-go when in Vienna, many suggested. He opened Google Map in his phone to check for directions to that marked restaurant. Once he made it clear which side was East and which side West, we started. Our stomachs almost hurting.
After a couple of minutes, we found ourselves in a narrow alley with shops on either side, crowded with tourists. At the entrance, we met five young girls aged probably between 13 and 16. They were walking from the opposite direction so when I saw them turn around and back into that alley, it was suspicious. Stoles loosely hung from their necks and when they spoke, they covered their mouths. These girls were walking behind us at one point and I could almost feel hands reaching for my bag. Unsure and uncomfortable, we stopped and let them pass. Our suspicion was proved right when I saw one hand, covered by the stole, going for an unwary woman’s bag. My cry wasn’t loud enough to attract other’s attention but the thieves disappeared. Our first experience in Vienna.
Once calmed, our hunger came back to our consciousness and we continued to dash. Both a little agitated, we quarrel because I thought he wasn’t leading us to the right location. The temperature at that time was below 0˚C. Hungry and cold, it was almost impossible to appreciate the charm of the city. Then suddenly we stood before the door over which these letters sprawled ‘KAFFEE ALT WIEN’. We had made it.
We didn’t spend time looking at its outward appearance and quickly went in. It was warm and loud inside. We just stood at the entrance awed by the atmosphere of the place and not knowing what to do because every single table was taken. Just then, a man got up leave and was kind enough to inform us. A cheerful old bald man came to take our orders which we had already decided before we even started our journey from Dubai – Beer, Wiener Schnitzel and Wiener Saftgulasch. The beer, delicious, came immediately and while waiting for the food, we surveyed the place. The cafe was crowded, filled with smoke and everyone looked quite at home. I think there was music playing but it was deafened by discussions and laughs.
On the table next to ours sat four elderly man who seemed to be talking with wisdom and intelligence. The tables were so close that if one needed to get up, everybody sitting on that line had to adjust their seats. The walls of the place were covered with old posters and pictures proudly showing off its long history. This café was opened in 1922. When our orders arrived just a few minutes later, we realized that everybody ordered the same stuff and a bite of the food convinced us why. The food was beautiful.
As we stood outside to leave, adjusting our scarves and putting on gloves, we thanked each other for coming to Kaffee Alt Wien.