"And who will lead this revolution? Perhaps Mr. Bronstein (Leon Trotsky) sitting over there at the Cafe Central?”
– Count Berchtold to Victor Adler
This is one of your cultural do-or-dies in Vienna, and it’s best to get it over and done with as soon as you can. My husband, who arrived four days earlier from Jakarta, took me here almost as soon as I landed, sleep-laced from the East Coast time zone, and sat me down to a bowl of goulash, perhaps a little too wintry for the Indian summer, yet soothing all the same, accompanied by a glass of the ubiquitous Gelber Muskatel, a renowned local wine. Dry, I mouthed. Welcome to Vienna, he said.
Judging from the goulash and the carelessly prepared Kaiserschmarren—a sloppy rendition of a sloppy dish, if you will—I suspect you don’t go to Café Central to eat. You go for the ghosts of all the turn-of-the-century artists, intellectuals and men of history who had sat here for comfort, inspiration or a good old fight (Schnitzler, Freud and van Hoffmansthal were regulars, so were Lenin, Trotsky and Hitler), for the interior—fin de siècle decadent from head to toe—and for a dose of that famous Viennese hospitality, ie. snooty service, to set you straight for the rest of your stay. Welcome to Vienna.