With just a day in Vienna I can’t resist ordering the city’s most famous dish, the golden wiener schnitzel, a speciality at the 130-year-old Cafe Landtmann.
My order comes slightly thicker than usual, with the edges noticeably hanging off the rim of the plate.
The cafe was once a favoured haunt of Sigmund Freud, the Austrian who invented psychoanalysis, but it was shot up by invading Russian soldiers in 1945, forcing its closure. It soon reopened and has been a continuous Viennese coffee-house fixture with an enviable location near the city’s splendid Parliament Buildings.
There’s the obligatory, spectacular range of homemade seasonal cakes and pastries on display in a large glass cabinet in the middle of the cafe.
However, I’msaving myself for the sachertorte at Cafe Sacher later in the afternoon.
Instead I order the delicious, and somewhat lighter, elderflower cake with chocolate layers – sans kaffee, though, for if truth be told I’m starting to feel as full as the popular river cruise ship that delivered me to Vienna.
Cafe Central, Vienna’s most famous coffee house, dates to 1876. It is said to have been a venue for Lenin and Trotsky as they plotted revolution over kaffee and apple strudel. Today it’s packed not with revolutionaries but tourists, determined to tick off this stop on their must-see Vienna sights list.
Inside is a series of vaulted ceilings, reminiscent of a chapel rather than a cafe, though this is not a former place of worship. Rather it is the historic Palais Ferste, Vienna’s erstwhile Bank and Stockmarket Building. Polished marble columns are set between closely packed marble-topped tables.
But as far as coffee and stamina is concerned I’malready starting to run out of steam, so I order a pick-me-up glass of Kir Royale and linger for a while, as indeed you’re meant do in a classy Vienna cafe. The last stop on my Viennese cafe waltz is the home of the sachertorte – the original recipe is more than 175 years old. The world’s ultimate chocolate cake was invented by Franz Sacher, the founder of the adjoining hotel. Such is its fame that the place is packed, but the staff remain unfailingly courteous.
Inside it feels more like a petit salon than a cafe, with red flock wallpaper, red carpet and marble tabletops. I order sachertorte and read that as a result of a 1962 court case only the version here can be called ‘‘ the original sachertorte’’.
Cafe Sacher’s management claim that only a few staff members have seen the original recipe for the cake, with the recipe itself locked in a safe. You can take a souvenir cake fully packed and in a suitably elegant carton but, after a day like this one, I figure it will be prudent to skip dinner on the ship tonight. The writer was a guest of APT and Sofitel Hotels.