My First Cup of Coffee with the President of Austria

Disclaimer: The title is misleading

I did have my first cup of coffee today, and I did get my picture taken with the President of Austria, but those two things happened in different places.

Today was Austrian National Day- the anniversary of the Declaration of Neutrality in 1955- and the President was speaking in the Hofburgplatz.

In other news, I did have my first cup of coffee today.

When I told people, especially co-workers, that I had never drank a drop of coffee, they usually do not respond.  In their hearts, there is a base distrust, a recognition that I am, at best, strange and incomprehensible.

But today, in Vienna, in the ancient and famous (and touristy) Cafe Central, I had my first cup of coffee.  One of the origin legends in the history of the drink has it that when Kara Mustapha’s Ottman army was driven from the field outside Vienna in 1683, the opulent camp abandoned in haste contained hundreds of pounds of coffee beans.  The Emperor Charles, not knowing what to do with the strange produce, gave it to a scout,  Franciszek Jerzy Kulczycki, that had provided valuable info on the layout of the Turkish forces for King John and the Winged Hussars just before the rout commenced.  With this boon, the first (or third, depending on the course) coffeehouse in Europe was opened, the the taste for the beverage spread rapidly.

While almost certainly a myth, the Cafe Central seemed the right place.  Lenin, Trotsky, Altenburg, all plotted and argued on the corner here, under the vaulted roof of the Cafe.

Still, like most of life’s virginities, what was an elating moment in theory and perhaps memory, was, in reality, somewhat disappointing.  But with that one out of the way, I might be able to get on with my life, as several caffeine addicted friends have suggested.

Tomorrow, we say goodbye to the City of Dreams and move downstream into Slovakia, Eastern Europe, and soon, November

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