Tag Archives: Homemade Cafe

Double-take

Surprise free afternoons are great. Crossing things off a to-do list earlier than expected, I can wander free and roam wide, going wherever my feet or my stomach take me. I keep discovering new corners of my adopted city, wondering how another gem had escaped me until then. With no guide book in hand, I stumble on some of Vienna’s treasures completely by chance. I sniff out my adventures in a variety of ways. I sometimes hear some music or spot an interesting shopping bag or catch a whiff of something delicious or simply follow the crowd when I get off a tram somewhere completely new.

One such afternoon, I asked a lady who was getting on my tram where she got the unusual flowers she was carrying and realised that it was just around the corner. I promptly jumped off and made straight for the flower shop. What greeted me round the bend was a market I’d been to before but this time I approached it from another side.  Even though I was slightly disappointed it wasn’t a completely new place, I decided to take a second look. Ambling past stalls with fresh produce, I began to notice things I hadn’t the last time I was there. Not only did I find the unusual flower shop, I also observed the demographic around me start to change.

As I tried to find a non-creepy place to watch the life around me, I stumbled into Himmelblau and almost forgot my mission. I got distracted by all the gorgeous Indian-looking prints in the shop and gently picked up and replaced quite a few things before I realised there was a matching cafe through a secret doorway hiding in plain sight. How had I missed this little gem before? Unashamedly feminine and playful in its decor, this cafe was perfect for me sans husband. Munching on yummy salad and sipping fresh carrot juice, I looked out onto the street to witness the slices of society at the market that day.

Friday afternoons are seemingly when the yummy mummies with fashionable buggies meet working friends who aren’t accompanied by little people. Eventually, the partners of the largely female populace start to appear and many greeting kisses are exchanged. The waiters of the cafés scurry around to add chairs to growing tables and start taking several new orders while picking up cutlery that children fling in all directions. Retirees meet young professionals one can only assume are their children who they are clearly proud of. A book club convenes and serious chatter is punctuated with laughter. Many exclamations are made and there is a general air of relaxed friendship and familiarity. This afternoon changed my perception of a notoriously snobbish district of Vienna. I saw something different. I am happy I chose to take a second look.

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Starter for 10

There are few things I relish more than a leisurely breakfast. I usually don’t make time for this important meal during the week however, as I relish my sleep more. A muesli bar on the train to work usually does the trick until I find time to get a second. In an effort to revolutionise my poor eating habits, I have chosen to simply start work at 10 a.m. on two days a week. So far, so good. The temptation to cram more productivity into my waking hours is creeping in but for the sake of my health and wellbeing, I hereby recommit to guarding my breakfast-time like a dog guards a bone.

The best part of slowing down is the quality-time I get to spend with my husband when he is cogent. A vast improvement on the 6:30 a.m. comatose version. We get to catch up in reverse. Look forward, speculate and share trivia. Not just which sock finally found its partner in the laundry basket but also our favourite didyouknows. I think we would have both been amazing at University Challenge. Then again, I’m still not sure why the sky is blue. Maybe I shall find out before our next starter for 10.

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Home of the Big Beard

Beautiful even at -15 C

I have officially been to Bratislava in every season now and can confidently say it is worth a day-trip even in the depths of winter. This lovely little capital city captured my heart the first time I walked down its cobbled streets and it hasn’t stopped charming me since. The complete contrast between the ‘old town’ and the new-ish suburbia is startling at first but, like a well-loved book, once you get past the tatters, you find the treasure.

Mr. Slovakia

Case in point: Recently, I attended a conference in Bratislava at a primary school and spotted a familiar face in a bookcase. There was no mistaking the stunning beard and the kindly expression. I took a picture to do some sleuthing later on. Lo and behold! A little gander over the internets revealed some interesting facts.

1. That  fine gentleman is Ľudovít Štúr.

2. He pretty much invented the Slovak language. Invented.

3. He is worth reading more on. He was a big deal.

The namesake.

AND 4. My favourite cafe (possibly in the whole world) is named after this guy. It is one of the main reasons why I keep going back to this town. It never disappoints. The best food is served by the nicest people who look after you like a cool aunt would. Mothery but not smothery.

The decor, to me, is the perfect mix of sophistication and cosiness. A blend of masculine and feminine, IKEA and haute couture, old and new. My ever-editing brain is content and has nothing bad to say. This might seem over the top but I hope you get to go and see for yourself.

Taste and see that it is good.

There are few things more deal-making/breaking than dessert. If their cheesecake magic doesn’t work, I declare you alien. This photo was taken in spring/summer 2011 on our fourth visit to Shtoor’s ‘Homemade Cafe’. In one day.

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