What should we expect drinking coffee in a land of tea-drinkers? A rainy morning in London. Overcast skies. Steady drizzle. Chilly but hardly cold. Grey. Flat. Not particularly optimistic. Settled into the hotel bar with perhaps the worst cup of coffee in my fifty years of drinking coffee. The lesson is clear: don’t expect a good cup of coffee in the land of tea. The morning coffee has been consistently, day after day, on a scale from Nescafe instant at its best to utterly dreadful at its worst. Elegant service, fine china, delicate spoon, cup and saucer. All wrapped around simply vile coffee. I have had prestige coffee straight from the roaster brewed with scientific care by the roasting staff and I have enjoyed cowboy coffee boiled in a tin pot over a campfire, which is to say that I am not a coffee snob, but this is as close to undrinkable as any in my lifetime.
So, on to Vienna, which holds out at least the promise of a good cup of coffee. Adam and I are sitting in the hotel bar puzzling over the approach charts for Wiener Neustadt, LOAN, our airport of choice, at least so far, outside of Vienna. Jepp charts are similar the world over, but every country seems to have its peculiar, sometimes unique procedures and Jepp does its best to depict those peculiarities in graphic form. And so we have a chart that looks similar in almost all respects, with jots and lines here and there that do not immediately resolve into familiar procedures. And we know, from teaching approach charts to students, that most charts include minor notes that are of little consequence, at least when all goes well, and some if not most charts include tiny little symbols and obscure notes that can kill you. Experience sorts them out for us. Here we lack that experience. Never landed an airplane or flown an approach in Austria before. That is about to change, probably tomorrow. So, first, some careful study.