I began my nomadic adventure exploring Europe in October 2014. I recently realized that breakfast is my favorite meal when I visit local cafes. Not only is it my favorite meal but it also has become almost an obsession in what I eat. While in different cafes I have met some very interesting personalities who have helped me understand and appreciate their respective cultures. This story is about my breakfast obsession and the friends I have made as I have crossed Europe and found several mouth-watering breakfast delights.
I have lived in the mountain village of Mijas Pueblo, Spain twice in the past few years and later this year I am planning to return again. Mijas is located 450 meters above sea level on the side of a mountain overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. The view of the sea inspired the café named “Bella Vista” as the view is truly grand. On exceptionally clear days you can see mountains across the Mediterranean Sea in Morocco.
It is at “Bella Vista” that I fell in love with the “Andaluz” for breakfast. The fresh-baked roll is less than a couple hours old when it is split, toasted and coated with a home-made tomato paste with secret spices. Served with drizzled Spanish olive oil, the “tostado” comes with “zumo de naranja” (orange juice) squeezed before your eyes and “café con leche” (coffee with milk). Bruno at the Bella Vista remembers me and when I return, shakes my hand and delivers an excellent Andaluz without me asking!
It is important to me to meet local people like Bruno in Mijas. They have stories to tell you about their lives and experiences that have been very interesting to me. Often I find myself visiting places based on the recommendations of people I meet in cafés. The visits also provide excellent opportunities to take photos like this man from Zagreb, Croatia.
Vasile in Cluj-Napoca, Romania is another friend I have met in his shop “Let’s Coffee.” Vasile is a master craftsman when it comes to creating his coffee specialties. His café latte is probably the most expensive at 10 lei (around $2.35) found in Cluj but the experience of feeling the smooth taste with the unique rich coffee flavor is worth it. Vasile is very particular about the roasted beans he uses and his attention to making each cup spectacular. Vasile serves only drinks so, if it is breakfast you desire, you go elsewhere. But the enticing smell of fresh-brewed coffee and the expertly crafted cup of java are guaranteed to captivate you and lure you in! I am thinking about returning to Cluj once again to go to “Let’s Coffee” and enjoy the drink and conversation with my friend Vasile.
When I lived in Krems an de Donau, Austria I became addicted to morning breakfast with apfelstrudel (apple strudel) served with café mélange or latte with caramel from Cafe Konditorei Raimitz. Raimitz has three locations in Krems and my favorite is at the Bahnofplatz (train station). My photo is used by TripAdviser as the main image for this café!
It is good that Raimitz is over a mile from my apartment so I could walk and burn a few calories from the warm aromatic strudel served with whipped cream. It is nice to sit outside at the café and enjoy beautiful spring and summer weather. Yes, I am still addicted and have not found apple strudel as good as at Raimitz anywhere in Europe.
In Austria, I also lived in Wolkersdorf im Weinviertel. The café “Geier” was spectacular and not only served good coffee but also awesome fresh breads and pastries. The women in the shop knew I had traveled a lot in Europe and were continually saying good-bye in different languages as I would leave the shop. Sometimes they would ask how to pronounce something in French, Italian, or other languages. Although I know only a few words in different languages, a friendly “au revoir” or “arrivederchi” brought smiles to our faces.
Brno, Czechia (a.k.a Czech Republic) along with Vienna, Austria has some of the finest coffee shops in this part of Central Europe. Two of my favorites in Brno are “Coffee Bar Meet Me” and “Kafec.” Dimitris and Veronika operate Café Bar Meet Me and serve special Greek sweets like baklava and kadaifi in addition to their coffee. It is certainly a notable place to be visited in Brno. The fresh Greek pastry treats are very special… especially found in Czechia!
However, for breakfast in Brno, “Kafec” is inescapable! It is downstairs and next door to my apartment! Kafec specializes in breakfasts and serves an international waffle to die for. Imagine a warm, fresh waffle topped with a split banana from Ecuador, smothered in local whipped cream, and drizzled with warm Belgian chocolate. Served with a café latte made from beans from El Salvador, the waffle became my routine after waking each morning and going downstairs!
Yes, I would spend about 200 koruna (about $8.00 including tip) but what a wonderful way to begin each day! The wait-staff in Kafec know I am an American and my entrance creates an English chorus of “hello” and on leaving “good-bye.” It is such a friendly place with exceptional breakfasts!
Next I am going to Malta for my exploration adventure. Last August I scouted for places with views to get great coffee and meet people. I think I found one such place in old Valletta, the capital, overlooking the harbor there. There will be more blog stories coming about my experiences with food, people and cultures from the tiny European country in the Mediterranean Sea.