Travel: A caffeine tour of the Continent

Find out if you won a weekend in Europe to enjoy cafe society
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The Independent Culture
THOUSANDS OF Independent readers agree: there are few more satisfying components of travel than the European cafe. In association with the Cafe Creme Guide to the Cafes of Europe 1998 - a guidebook that takes you on a caffeine tour around the continent from Bath to Berlin - we offered prizes of weekends the great cafe societies of Europe.

The four first prize-winners (one for each of our chosen city destinations) have won a short break with a partner in Europe. The prize includes return travel from London; transfers to a three-star hotel, for two nights bed-and-breakfast accommodation; pounds 100 in spending money; and an all-important copy of Cafes of Europe.

We had great fun and lengthy arguments selecting the eventual winners, chosen according to a different tie-break for each week.

The first, for a weekend in Vienna, asked you to describe the dreamiest cake you have ever had. The runners-up included Joan Workman of Croydon: "In a Jura Village cafe I encountered my first French wedding cake - a profiterole `mountain'. I conquered its north face"; and Mr A Hall of Exeter: "Sumptuous sponge soaked in rum and syrup, covered in walnuts and raisins, topped with vanilla sauce, whipped cream and chocolate."

The first prize, though, goes to George Gomori of Cambridge for sumptuous simplicity: "A cheesecake at Dehmels - subtle and light as a waltz by Strauss in the Viennese night."

NEXT WAS a trip to Paris, for which we asked for the most romantic cafe you have ever visited. Close calls from T. Jolliffe of Brixham: "In Paris, near the opera, a Maupassant old man, a Doisneau couple in the gloom; and with me, my lover''; from Mrs Janet Dewes of Carmarthen: "At the Gare du Nord, station sounds surrounding, a fellow passenger scribbled my address on a newspaper: my future husband"; and from Mrs D Wightman of Dundee: "A square, Roussillon, Provence - reflected sunlight on red ochre, brightly painted pots of flowers - together we imbibe drinks and atmosphere."

The lucky weekend winner was Alan Spencer of Bury: "Venice's Cafe Florian, where visual beauty and the writings of customers, Mann, James, Hemingway and Browning percolate into one's soul."

THIRD UP was Madrid, for which you had to describe the best ambience you have experienced in a cafe.

We especially liked the choice of Mrs M P Kilkern of Newton Stewart - "Paris, Marais 11pm, kitchen closed but patron jacket off, sleeves up serves moules mariniere, pommes frites, tarte tatin, muscadet, parfait!" - and Paul Pastor of Ormskirk: "Before Italy played Russia at Anfield, both sets of supporters, singing their national anthem, attempting to drown out the other."

But we finally chose Stuart Wroe of Skipton: "It meant nothing to Ultravox, but to us, Vienna is an espresso and torte in the opulently chandeliered Cafe Sacher."

FINALLY, TO win a weekend in Venice, we asked for the tastiest coffee you have ever enjoyed.

Julian Dorling of London recalls Greece in 1976: "Outside a cafe in Athens, a steamy morning, thick coffee in tiny white cup under acacia trees."

Many other readers nominated Blue Mountain coffee of Jamaica ; John Rossington of Bradford, for example, described it as "the Champagne of the Caribbean". But Adrian Brodkin of London wrote the winning slogan for this exclusive coffee: "The delicious blend which makes life richer for the pourer!"

OUR CONGRATULATIONS to the winners, and to the runners-up (the remainder of whom are listed below), who each receive a copy of the Cafe Creme Guide to the Cafes of Europe 1998, worth pounds 12.99:

Marianne Hopcraft, Aylesbury; R. Bramhall, Blackpool; Ann Nolla, Liverpool; Michael Palmer, Claygate; Paul Thompson, Witham; Rebecca Grimshaw, Wigan; Philip Greenwood, Banstead; Anne O'Flanagan, London; Antonia J Bunch, Haddington; Mrs R Lloyd, Canterbury; Matthew Duffield, London; Maria Frate, Ashwell; C Walters, Bristol; B Wohlrab, Amsterdam, Holland; Mr E J Peyton, Didcot, Oxon; J R Smith, Woodborough; Mr A & Mrs B Wilson, Newmarket; Nigel Hetherington, London; Elna Andersson, London; Len Flynn, Newcastle Upon Tyne; Ian Maidment, Norwich; Richard Longman, London; Suzanne Benton, Cambridge; Stuart Ives, Bracknell; Alison Smith, North Deal; Jill Champion, London; Judith Bryant, Billericay; Mrs S Galloway, York; Gina Jolliffe, Brixham; Catherine Humphries, Oxford; Gerry Blake, London; Mrs H L Dunlop, Herstmonceux; Richard Colebourn, Ringmer; Jenny Down, Cambridge; Dr Elizabeth Manning, Durham; Elfriede Schutz, Barnstaple; C Chater, Buckfastleigh; Miss Shirley Taylor, Aberdeen; K F P Seywald, London; S Coidan, Rochdale; Robert Owen, Crawley; Carola Rauch, London; Elizabeth Roscoe, Mold; Mrs Betty Skern, Hornsea; Simon Gannicliffe, Hazel Grove; Kathy Webster, Leamington Spa; N Le Roux, Hitchin; Anne Pettitt, Long Buckby; Andrew Stephenson, Blackburn; Enrique Perez, London, G Vignola, London; Mrs A B Wilson, London; John Edwards, Wrexham; Katy Cawkwell, Hingham; G Wright, Manchester; G R Stevenson, Peacehaven; Mrs G M Guy, Brighton; Johanna Pronk, Kendal; Alexis Holden, London; Paul Kearns, Denbigh; Keith Giles, Middlesbrough; Mary Nugent, Sutton Coldfield; Tansy Forrest, Betchworth; Edward McQuaid, Leicester; Helen Altozano, London; G Beazer, Wirral; Mr L Flynn, Newcastle- upon-Tyne; Jayne Patten, Liverpool.

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