Welcome to Europe, where the coffee is stronger, where cafes are ubiquitous, and the fashion is more desirable. I've always had a passionate fascination with European culture when I visited the continent six years ago. I was so struck at the vast differences about how the other half of the world lives that its effect still affects me. Perhaps one of the interesting things and the one thing I wish I could translate back to North America is the profound ubiquity of the cafe.
Cafes are not merely just a table at a bistro, bakery, coffee shop, or sandwich shop where you can sit and drink and eat and talk. No, my dear readers. It is a lifestyle. Most bistros have terraces, where you can eat, drink, and feast outside. They are seen all throughout Europe and perhaps one of the most iconic images tourists conjure when the continent comes up in conversation. It is a way of life, a simple lifestyle in which everyone stops at a cafe and simply talks. Cafes are to Europe as malls are to America. Near lunch hour, work stops and everyone steps outside and enjoys a coffee break with a croissant or a small pastry.
I like to believe that every chair, every table, every section has a story to tell. Perhaps a lost love is reunited with an affectionate embrace, old friends discuss past events with old boyfriends, a husband and wife enjoy a tender moment, and two work colleagues enjoy a nice break that could easily be the start of something fantastic. There is such an air of mystery and playfulness to cafes and yet, a profound connection, as a simple chair or table can become the image of a cherished memory.
The sound of croissants breaking, the clinking of cups on plates, the sipping of hot coffee, and the crinkling of bags that contain delicious pastries are the sounds that one hears when walking down any given street. The smells of freshly brewed coffee and freshly baked pastries fills the street. Taking a seat in any cafe is participating in daily life in Europe. That is something I can definitely get used to.