Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Beer, sweets and coffee

Between us, we had a lot of all three.

The sweets in Vienna were amazing. I always say I don't really have a sweet-tooth, but in Vienna, even a hard-liner on dessert like myself is taken down a notch or two. Particularly memorable was the "Irish Cream Torte" we shared near the Naschmarkt. Honorable mention also goes to 1516 in Vienna, for a very nice apfel strudel. I also really enjoyed the ice cream in Korčula and in Gdansk, and there was a very memorable bannana-split I helped Ania eat in Ljubljana.

The coffee at the breakfast buffet for our hotel in Dubrovnik (Hotel Adriatic) was the most foul thing I've ever seen accused of being coffee. It was an insult to even the worst coffee I'd ever had: bitter, acrid, acidic, thin - they all apply - but somehow I still drank it in the vain hope that it did in fact contain caffeine. It literally didn't even taste like it was made from coffee, but it wasn't chickory either. I don't know what we drank those two mornings, but it was an awful, horrid, vile thing that I regret putting my body through.

In contrast, we had some very good coffee as well. As long as you're a little careful, it's hard to get bad coffee in Vienna. Prague is a different story - for some reason I've never had a satisfying coffee there, but I'm sure it's possible. I don't recall getting much coffee in Ljubljana except from the fantastic machine they had at the breakfast buffet at Hotel Emonec. Hands down the best coffee I've ever had from a machine. The machine ground the beans for each cup, and it had several options. So, with a little creativity, I was very satisfied with the coffee we were getting out of that contraption. The Josef K. Café in Sopot, Poland had really good coffee as well. They pulled a clean tasting espresso, with great cup appeal, and made a killer latté.

I drank a lot of beer. See the Beer Post for intimate details. Beer was refreshing and gave the sightseer energy. Ania and I agreed that she would enjoy sweets, and I would enjoy beer. I definitely held up my part of the bargain ;-) I learned a bit of politics and economics through beer: the rivalry between Union and Laško in Slovenia, for instance. I saw (and already suspected) that you can get a Guinness just about anywhere. Heineken and Carlsberg, too. I saw Croatians drinking Corona, and a Polish man buying American Budweiser in Warsaw. I saw all manner of odd things mixed with beer, among them: fruit juice, Coke, tonic, wine, other beer, and last but not least, coffee. Hot, spiced beer was on several menus in Eastern Poland, as was mulled wine. I saw high-schoolers in Poland walking along the Wisła with .5l cans of Warka, and old ladies in Austria with .5l mugs of Helles. In Slovenia, I watched a local slam a can of Laško before going to church. I love beer. I really do.

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