One of the very nice things about Viennese life is the traditional café, where time passes more slowly, service is still important and the old decoration is impeccable. I photographed the outside of Café Sperl, in Gumpendorferstrasse, not far from my hotel, when the sun was still shining just after I'd arrived in Vienna. The café was used by Johannes Brahms, and by the Hungarian operetta composers Emmerich Kálmán (1882-1953) and Franz Lehár (1870-1948). Shortly before I left the city – with the weather bad and me in need of cheering up – I called in there for a coffee, and a slice of what is surely the best chocolate cake in the world!
I enjoyed another coffee, though not in such salubrious surroudings, in the disused Jugendstil entrance pavilion to Karlsplatz U-bahn station, designed in 1899 by Otto Wagner. One of the two entrances is a café, the other is used as exhibition space for the Historiches Museum. Elsewhere, the café of the famous Spanish Riding School (not in itself of interest to me) is a pleasant and fairly upmarket affair with a better clientelle than most, and serves a pretty good apfelstrudel.
Another Jugendstil attraction is the Artaria Haus – built in 1901 and set back a few feet from the smart Kohlmarkt – the home of the Artaria publishing house. Artaria started as mapmakers in 1765, printing music from 1776, and were the principal publishers for Haydn and Mozart in their lifetimes; they also handled Beethoven until (characteristically) he fell out with them rather publicly in 1802. Artaria stopped printing music in the mid 19th Century. The shop of mapmakers Freytag & Berndt occupies the ground floor.
The small entranceway of the upmarket Hotel Kaiserin Elisabeth, in Weihburggasse, has a nicely engraved board listing some of its famous guests, including Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Clara Schumann, Franz Liszt, Richard Wagner, Anton Bruckner and Edvard Grieg. I plucked up courage to ask at the desk whether I might take a photo of the board, to which the answer, of course, was 'yes' – the slight technical problem is that the entrance is entirely lined with mirrors, so getting the picture without making it a self-portrait was difficult; I managed reasonably well.
I found the Johann-Strauss-Museum on Praterstrasse, where the younger Johann Strauss lived from 1863 to 1878, although being a Sunday afternoon it had already closed by the time I arrived. The street was quiet; I took a few photos of the outside of the museum, with McDonalds on the ground floor (actually I thought the 'traditional' restaurant next door was far more unappealing than McDs). I decided not to come back to look inside, as I'm not that interested in Strauss, though I would have gone in at the time if it had been open.
At the opposite extreme to my delightful experience in Café Sperl was an episode on returning to the city centre after my cold, wet and windy visit to the Zentralfriedhof; emerging from U-bahn U3 at Herrengasse I dived into a smart but most unwelcoming coffee house – the first I saw – where the middle-aged waiter said nothing when I arrived; nor on taking my order; nor on bringing it – and nor did his face move – and when I gave him €4 for the €3.20 bill he made no move to give me the change, the normal convention, just pocketed the difference. Basta! Il Tempo I think it was called; ill tempered is more like it.