Tag Archives: Coffee

Vienna Calling

I love vacations. Especially vacations that involve travelling to new places. What’s perhaps even better is looking back on vacations you’ve been on. I can’t speak for everyone, but when I’m looking back on things, my imagination makes them way better than they may have actually been. I’ll be looking at pictures, and even if I was outside freezing my ass off all day, I’ll be like ‘Isn’t the snow beautiful?’ Even if I spent half the evening arguing with my wife, I’ll be like ‘Wasn’t that an amazing buffet?’

Last Monday my wife and I were having lunch, (just before my ill-fated trip to Teavana which I blogged about last week) and reminiscing about our trip to Vienna, Austria. It was our honeymoon after all (mind you, we took a road trip to New York and Boston, post-wedding, pre-Austria, and while we had a blast, we decided it was NOT our honeymoon). Vienna is a bit sexier to talk about from a honeymoon perspective, and neither of us had ever been there. In fact, we hadn’t been to Europe together at all. We decided to do it as a little mini-trip for 4 days. Loyal readers, let me assure you that this is the dumbest possible idea, and you should never try it yourself. It’s totally not worth the airfare or jet lag to only stay for 4 days. I thought there were a few things about Vienna that I’d like to share with you. Not that I want to turn this into a travel blog or anything, but I don’t have anything that I’m really fired up about right now.

– When we got to the airport after flying overnight on Austrian Airlines (which we liked), we had to go through customs. The customs officer looked at our passports, looked at us and said ‘have a good day’. I’m so used to going to the States and feeling like I’m one shifty look away from being strip searched. They didn’t even ask us any questions in Austria. Nice.

– The hotel we stayed at was a boutique hotel that we got a great deal on since we were travelling in their ‘off season’ for tourism. It would have been crazy expensive. We took a cab there from a train station. When we told the cab driver where we were staying, he practically BEGGED us to let him take us somewhere else. We didn’t let him since it was already paid for, but we were curious to know why. In his opinion, and the opinions of a lot of the locals, this hotel was an abomination, and he was just doing his part to try to steer business away from them. Here’s the thing….. it was the most gorgeous hotel that I’ve ever stayed at. What’s interesting to me is the difference in attitude towards old vs new that Europeans have as opposed to North Americans. I don’t mean to paint everyone with the same brush here, but Vienna is a city very rich in history, and architecture that is centuries old. Their idea of new, is restoring something old, and I get that. In North America we level old buildings to build new buildings all the time. There are some places that are well restored and historical, but they’re few and far between. I get that too. I just found it interesting that a new hotel with a fairly artistic design could be so offensive to someone. Pictures don’t do it justice, but I’ll include a couple.

Outside of the hotel at night.

Outside of the hotel at night.

Simple, yet modern and elegant.

Simple, yet modern and elegant.

From an inside lounge area at night looking out to the city.

From an inside lounge area at night looking out to the city.

– Something Vienna is definitely known for is the coffee shops. For every Tim Horton’s in Canada or Dunkin Donuts in the States, Europe seems to have a ‘one of a kind’, amazing coffee shop with incredible baked goodies. You almost can’t throw a baseball in Vienna without hitting three of them. There were no drive-thru shops that I could see either. The emphasis seems to be ‘come in and sit down… enjoy your coffee and cigarette, and leave when you’re ready’. A way different lifestyle than ‘hurry the fuck up, I’m late for work’. One I could get used to perhaps.

– Final thought was I wonder if I’ll hear any Falco on the radio. As a nerd for 80’s music trivia, I of course remember the Austrian pop star who’s most famous hit was ‘Rock Me Amadeus’, and his follow-up single ‘Vienna Calling’ (which I borrowed for this blog title… did anyone get that?) seemed to be the song that was going through my head for 4 days while in the city. Falco is the biggest international pop star to ever come out of Austria, and if you’re curious, I DID actually hear a Falco song on the radio while I was there. I was sad to learn that he had died in a car crash in 1998. R.I.P. Falco!!!!

Don’t worry….. I’m not going to blog about you!

To give you a bit of a background, I’ve had a small lack of inspiration happening this morning.  There’s usually the moment where I haven’t had coffee yet, and I can’t write, but then a few hours later there’s the moment where I’ve had too much coffee and I can’t write.  There is a finite opportunity for me to get this blog off, and if I piss around too much within that window, then the quality of my product decreases significantly.  Usually I wake up Monday morning knowing I need to blog to fulfill my commitment to myself (and now some faithful readers…. thank you).  I’m lucky if I already have a topic picked out, but usually if I don’t, I quickly come up with something.  They say writers should write even if they have nothing to write about, just to stay in the habit of doing it, plus it’s probably a good test of skill to pull off some half decent writing with no inspiration.  I want badly to write about ‘writer’s block’ but it’s so cliché.  I sometimes ask people for topics, but for whatever strange reason, I never want to write about things that people suggest I should write about.  Today I would like to write about the impact my writing has on my social life.  Yes….I’m going to blog about blogging!  It was only a matter of time.

I was just instant messaging with a friend.  We were catching up, and I hadn’t come up with a blog topic yet, so I asked him for one (knowing I probably wouldn’t use it).  He had just had us over for a get together on the weekend, and he suggested I write about house parties!  The ins & outs, expectations & pitfalls, dos & don’ts, the anecdotal booze rules……  That’s a pretty good topic.  He knows me well, and knows I could write passionately about the subject, because I love a good house party!  Herein lies the problem with that.  If I do this, people in my circle that have read my blog could become ‘house party self conscious’ if they choose to invite me.  Am I over reacting?  Possibly, but this past Saturday night I was at their house attending one of the better get-togethers I’d been to in some time.  They had renovated the backyard, they had one of those big tents to keep the bugs out so we could sit around outside.  The food was good, they had cool drinks, great music, guacamole, nice mix of our friends.  I had a great time.  Then when my buddy offered coffee to everyone, he mentioned that he didn’t have cream.  Two other people piped up and mentioned a previous blog that I had written about the importance of having cream for your coffee.  We all had a good laugh, but I felt a range of emotions.  1) Flattered that people are reading my blog and almost able to quote stuff from it.  2) Bad because something I wrote contributed to a moment where I was basically now judging them for not having cream in the house, even though I would never have said anything, and 3) Embarrassed, because publishing that blog months earlier was now the equivalent of getting up in the middle of a room and shouting “OH MY GOD, THESE GUYS DON’T HAVE CREAM FOR THEIR COFFEE”, which was such a small detail to an otherwise amazing night.  I don’t even think anyone was going to drink coffee!!!

It’s a very interesting dynamic.  I’ve started a blog which whether intentionally or not has become something of a ‘rant’ blog.  People tend to find me more entertaining when I’m angry or feisty (according to the site stats) which is actually rather inconvenient for me since I prefer just to be cool and laid back.  Upon reading some of my own stuff, I appear to be auditioning for a job with the ‘behaviour police’ and judging everyone I come across in the world which was really not my original intention.  It’s funny how lately, people I know will occasionally reference a situation, and say ‘I wonder if he’ll blog about that’, or ‘I hope he doesn’t blog about me’.

I’ve learned a great lesson about how words (even on a small-scale such as this) are forever once published.  Even though I’ve never mentioned any names, and have rarely made reference to anybody I know, I have been putting my opinions out there into the world.  I try to make them general rather than specific, but you may fit into a category of people who I’ve made fun of or spoken out against.  If it’s happened with people I know, I hope we’re still cool.  I’m legitimately worried that if I wrote a post about house parties and how I think they should be, that people would be nervous about inviting me to theirs, thinking I’d be making notes or filling out a report card.  I don’t want to put pressure on people like that.  I just want to have a cold beer.

In general though, I just want you to know that you don’t have to worry.  I’m not so desperate for blog topics that I would intentionally embarrass any of you.  I am not waiting for you to screw up in life so I can write about you.  I’ve seen enough random strangers doing a lifetime’s worth of idiotic things, that I can write about that until my hands fall off.  Just in case you were wondering…….Hope we can still hang out 🙂



Coffee without cream is like……….

I am out of sorts…..  I shouldn’t be.  It’s the last day of my vacation.  I’m home now, and it’s a Monday so the rest of the world is at work, but I won’t be until Tuesday.  Perfect day to waste farting around.  We went grocery shopping yesterday because we’d been out-of-town and the fridge was empty.  I’m stocked up.  I don’t need to go anywhere until 8pm.  So I put on some coffee this morning, and guess what???  No cream in the fridge.

Let me put something out there.  I’m a coffee snob and I’m not.  I’m not a coffee snob in the sense that I don’t have a French Press, and I don’t drink my coffee straight (I require lots of cream and sugar), and I’m not above drinking flavored coffees (just the opposite, I LOOOOOVVVEEE flavored coffees…… BTW for all my Canadian friends, it’s just easier for me to spell flavour the American way.  You’ll also note later that I’ll do the same thing with favour).  I’m a coffee snob in the sense that if you come into my home and I offer you a coffee, I have the necessary accessories to fulfill this request, and the necessary coffee brewing skills to do it right, so that you WILL enjoy your coffee here.  Part of that is having cream in the fridge at all times.  It’s amazing to me how many homes you can go into where they offer you coffee and don’t have half the shit you need to make a good cup of coffee.  Quite honestly, I’d rather not go down that road with you.  If good coffee isn’t important to you, then don’t offer it.  Chances are I’m not visiting with you first thing in the morning and a caffeine jolt is not the issue. Make a drink that you’re good at making, or offer (COLD) water, which everyone who has a fridge or ice cubes is good at making.  If you want to be the type of person that offers coffee to people who come over, then make that $5 investment per 2 months (which is how long it usually stays good in the fridge), and have some fucking cream!  BTW, if I can help you with the math, $5 over 2 months is about $30 a year, which is a small price to pay to have a good reputation among coffee drinkers.

I’m not suggesting that it’s a true necessity of being a good host to have great coffee at your place, just as I would never expect you to have good beer at your place, or good wine, or good anything.  I just think people need to know their limits as hosts, and stay within them.  If I come over asking for a coffee, then it’s my own problem if your coffee is shit, but if you’re offering, then I’m assuming it’s good.

A good parallel might be if I wanted to borrow your car which really had a bad muffler problem, and you’re kind enough to lend it to me, I should really tolerate that issue, and perhaps think twice before asking to borrow your car again.  Now if you’re OFFERING me that car to borrow for the day, I’d be much happier if it were in good repair.  NOW it looks bad on you.  The message is ‘do me a favor and don’t do me any favors’.  Don’t offer me your broke down car, and don’t offer me coffee if you don’t have the first sweet clue how to brew a cup (or have cream and sugar).

Having said that, I have no cream in the fridge right now.  I’m not going back to the store on principle alone, because I was just there yesterday.  Right now I’m choking down some otherwise lovely coffee from Vienna……… with milk.  Some of you think that’s an acceptable substitute.  I’m here to tell you it’s not.

Coffee without cream is like Andrew Ridgeley without George Michael, like the Boston Red Sox without Terry Francona, like 1985 without neon, like running without scissors, like KISS without the makeup, like bumper stickers that aren’t hilarious, like biographies with no controversy, like party mix without cheesies…. ok, you get it.

I do realize that other people have worse problems than this, so I’m very fortunate that the worst thing that will probably happen to me today is that I had to have milk in my coffee.  Still though….. it’s horrible.