Twice a week, I go out by myself for an hour (don’t worry — Dan watches the kids) to give myself a little break and restore my sanity. Most of the time, I end up at Starbucks. Which, I know, is kind of lame in Vienna, the land of coffee houses, but it’s conveniently located, it’s entirely non-smoking and the people that work there are very nice and extremely patient with my Germenglish.
The last few weeks, my favorite Starbucks has been crazy every time I went in — with the Christmas market craziness preceding Christmas and then all of the festivity around New Year’s (which is a relatively big deal here), all of the tourists flock to good-old-familiar Starbucks. I don’t mind — it makes it a little harder to find a good seat, but apparently I have “Starbucks table” karma here like I had parking spot karma at home (I will find an open parking spot, in any parking lot, exactly where I want it to be and exactly where no one else believes one will be available about 98% of the time) so I’ve had good luck finding a seat. At worst, I have to ask (in awkward and probably incorrect German) if a seat is available, but it all works out. I ask in German, and if that doesn’t work, I ask in English (very few people in Starbucks in Vienna don’t speak at least a little English). I’ve never had a problem being understood.
This past Sunday was odd, though. Twice, I asked in German and then in English and had people still not understand me. (Although charades worked ok.) It was strange. I realized (after, of course, I found the last open seat in the place) that other than myself, the employees and 3 other people, everyone else in the Starbucks was speaking Italian. Everyone. And they didn’t seem to all know each other or be part of one large tour group or anything. The Starbucks at Michaelerplatz in Vienna was just full of Italians.
I have no idea why, but it was pretty funny. Even more ironic that being in a Starbucks in the middle of Vienna is being there with a huge population of people from another country who ALSO pride themselves on their coffee. I guess my choice of Viennese coffee houses might not be so lame after all.