HERMANN's - Berlin
Found exactly what I needed. This place is deceptively large; when you first walk by you just see a wooden counter along the window front. Even when you walk in you see the counter and you might catch yourself by surprise in the wall-mirror to your right. But it really is larger than the mirror makes it look. When you come in beyond the window seating there is a scattering of wood tables and handsome wire and grey-fabric chairs. There are several long tables where I can work without worrying about taking up a two person space when this place inevitably gets busier (on inquiring, the host tells me that it fills up pretty fast.) There is even a large boxed-in glass meeting room with lovely shelves with plants and another long table.
There are plants everywhere -- I see a two fig trees and several other plants that I don't know by name. I'm surprised at the size of this place. To my left are some lovely booths that could easily seat eight or ten people. This seems like a place that has embraced that people are going to come and stay for quite some time. I almost went back to St. Oberholz but thankfully I was feeling more adventurous this morning--frankly, I was just hungry and needed food.
The food here was great. The oatmeal filled me up and now I have a sidecar of banana-bread-compote waiting for me to get hungry again.
Lois Cafe - Berlin
It's 3:30, later than I'd normally be having coffee. A kid just stumbled by the window, the big window of Lois Cafe, wearing a sky blue puff jacket and shoving Frozen Yogurt into their painted face. It's Halloween. I'm not sure if they were a zombie or David Bowie.
Lois Cafe is nice, and I'm wondering why I went so long without writing about Cafés. I've been in Europe since Mid-October, but that was a vacation proper. Now I'm actually back at work, albeit remotely.
Lois Cafe: you might miss it when you walk down the street, they don't have any signage (that I know of) but for a few outside tables and chairs with laminated menus on it. The big window looking into the cafe is draped with vines, still green at the end of October. I don't know how cold it gets in Berlin, or how much leaves change colour. Maybe the leaves are just dressing up too! It's Halloween after all.
It's small inside Lois; I'm intrigued by the all-wood bar, sedimentary in a way that it has a sort of unnatural lined horizontal surface, as if thousands of slivers of wood had been pressed into the large shape of the bar.
More kids are running down the street. I saw one chase another. It looked like the one doing the chasing has an upside cross painted on her forehead. Haven't seen any David Bowie's since the first one, though.
I'm getting distracted wondering where I have put all the other café writing entries. I'm wondering if I'll make anything of this stuff.
Lois has a enough room inside for four or five two-seater tables, a couch (backed up against a dark grey, concrete wall). There's some moody lighting. I like the almond shaped vase with the huge vegetation sticking out of it. It has to be fake, I tell myself, because I see some grapes attached to a branch.
But what do I know! I'm new here.
Milk - Edinburgh
I ran by Milk when I went for a run this morning. My morning run was in the rain. It's raining now too. The building across from me has two horizontal stripes of red and it makes me think of a Scotiabank building back in Toronto. Guess branding really sticks in your brain. To the left, is a driveway with a no entry sign, and then farther left is a very deep blue building, that says it has "Cask & Craft Ales" and "Whiskey" among other things.
I could barely bring myself to go find the grocery store this morning. Sometimes in a new place it takes so much effort to go find the new place/new way to do the banal things that make up life back home. The host of my AirBnB also graciously provides Muslix (I think it's called Muslix) and some corn flakes. So I could have eaten those too for a few days. Either way, I need to save some money and I also miss cooking.
So I made some asparagus and poached eggs and then headed for Milk. Milk is a small cafe around a bend in Edinburgh. I don't really know the streets, but I guess I will look it up later. I just finished reading a short chapter from The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. I've said it before (but in my personal writing)--this book doesn't feel like it was written almost 20 years ago. Wow. In a few moments I will start working on my November Novel of 2019 and it will un/fortunately sound like Murakami. What can you do. You can get better at your craft, and suffer being aware enough of your shortcomings in the meantime, hopefully enough to shrug them off.
The coffee is good, and I think the rain has stopped. When it's not raining it's misting in Edinburgh it seems. I think I'm qualified to make sweeping assertions, aren't I? I've been here two days after all.
If I click my teeth together hard enough I can see the top of the coffee rattle.
This morning I tried to get to a coffee shop that is run out of a BOAT. A BOAT on a CANAL. That's pretty god damn cool. I think they started it for me. That's right up my alley. My canal alley. Canalley.
I wonder where the rest of my cafe writing files went. I think I threw them out when I abandoned the project for the first time. Such a pity. I'm doing this for myself now, might never turn it into a website.
CairnGorm Coffee - Edinburgh
Today I have discovered the "Long Black" coffee in this cafe. There was no sign for Americano and so I surmised that it was something similar. Still, I quickly googled it before I got to the front of the line at Cairn Gorm.
It's nice in here. It's quite busy, bright, and comfortable for working. I will be doing some writing shortly. I'm at the bar. For some reason, there is a brass, sloping slab up against the entirety of the window before me, looking onto the street, an iPad mounted at each seat.
My long black came in a thick middle yellow cup and saucer which I like a lot. It reminds me of my Mom, and it's also just the right colour of yellow. It's a little dull and faded from good use. Oh look, someone a few seats down from me also happens to be wearing a very yellow Cardigan.
I didn't feel like writing about this cafe. It's actually very ideal. I might just be having the feeling that I'm falling behind on stuff a bit. The new novel is about two thousand words behind schedule. I've got two full days left here before I go to Newcastle.
This morning I got sucked down a hole of reading about people learning to draw.
I'm really starting to appreciate having a coffee with some kind of sweet. Today I got some kind of square with a hardened chocolate layer along the top. Great when you soak up the in-betweens of some food with hot coffee.
I'm almost out of coffee. Better start writing.
Laneway Co - NewCastle
I made it to NewCastle - the last destination on this trip. I'm in Laneway Co Coffee. I originally planned on going somewhere else, but the storefront caught my eye and I changed plans. Got a long black; which I'm starting to appreciate. I'm in a small basement with a few hanging plants. I got a sandwich with the coffee, thankfully.
The ride down here was smooth. There was some really stunning landscapes, when the train rode right along the sea. Something I've always wanted to see -- landscapes of cliffs and the sea. It was quietly beautiful. As these sights rolled into view, an older man came and sat across from me. He seemed excited to look out the window, and was eagerly looking for the same thing that I think I might have been looking for. He had a camera hanging from his neck and a red jacket on. Tortoise shell glasses. For a time we had our eyes fixed out the window.
To my left, three young guys were drinking beers, having a good time.
I've got some writing to do now.
The coffee was good. Kind of fruity, I guess.
Oh also, try and remember what it was like seeing that one cloud, hanging over the sea with the wisps of grey clinging to itself. In my mind it could have been rain falling. In retrospect it seems unlikely.
Elysium - Vancouver
I'm feeling good and grateful today. I've been able to see a side of Vancouver that I wouldn't have as a tourist. I've been staying at a friend of a friend's (who is my friend now too, I hope!) who has an empty room. I'm here for a week but within the first day I already felt like I did so much.
Today I walked over to Elysium coffee and got an Americano, muffin, and avocado toast. All of it was excellent. I still don't feel that I know the nuance of coffee, and so it could just be my mood as much as anything.
One of the funny things about life is that you'll never know if a place away from home is "good" or you are just "good" that day, or series of days that you are there. A person can spend a lot of time thinking about how being somewhere else is all you need to be happy. The anywhere-but-here attitude can easily soak into you. Simply, you have to live with yourself wherever you are. But, still, I cannot help comparing places when I move around, and ask myself if living with myself in one place or another would be a little easier than where home is right now.
Anyway, staying with a friend and meeting their circle of friends has been great. Everyone has been so friendly. People sound dissapointed when I tell them for how long (short) of a stay I am here. My new temporary roommate seems excited for me to join climbing (he didn't make it the first time we went). I can't help but wonder if this place holds keys to opening doors in my life that I sadly believe are closed back home.
I feel very lucky. Be around people and try and make them laugh. Tell them things about you, but ask questions too. Tell people you care about them by placing a careful arm on a shoulder or pretending to be made to drool at the mere fact that they exist.
The coffee was great, of course. Sparkling water on tap.
First and Last - Toronto
Davenport is loud and crass and the cars are awful and they smell. This is how I feel--stifled-- speeding cars zip past, kicking up the refuse that has been waiting to reveal itself as winter starts to pass. I think about what it would be like to live near forests and mountains. Generally, quieter areas.
I smell my coffee but don't have a sip of it yet.
First and Last is on Davenport. It's the opposite (and more) of the street. I feel like I've stepped into a small shop in a cottage town. All the tables are the same but infinitely different in their age and scuff marks. There is a lot to look at. I'm sitting in an re-purposed church pew, just out of the reach of the, believe it or not, stifling, sunlight and the dryness of Davenport that is still clinging to me. I feel a little guilty about my previous harshness and the fact that I've donned my noise cancelling headphones until I relax a bit. The truth is I haven't had a full cup of coffee yet, and I forgot that it was more than few minutes walk against the commuter swell and smells.
Half the place seems to be made of wood. There's an old wooden chair by the door with a large plant - the pot larger than the plant - on top of it. The radiator, also near the door, is a brindle cover and could be made of wood for all I know. Everythign is perfectly mis matched in here. Every cup is different. Mine is white and has coloured wood prints on it.
The coffee is good.