Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Outdoor Cafes and the Curious Traveler

                                                             Lucca, Italy

                                                                New Mexico

                                                                      New Mexico

                                                                      Paris, France

                                                                          Rabat, Morocco

                                            Malaga, Spain on the beach

                                                               Seville, Spain

As I sit watching the heavy snowflakes fall and anticipate next week on Florida's Gulf Coast, images of outdoor cafes are wandering through my mind.  Besides the obvious fact that there are no functioning outdoor cafes during Wisconsin's frigid winter, outdoor cafes are a key part of my travel experience and I look forward to them.

People travel with different mindsets, especially when their stay in one town or city is limited to just a few days . For some, it's important to visit as many museums, historical places, and cathedrals (or temples or mosques) as possible in order to get a better understanding of a place. I don't disagree that those aspects of a place are important. After all, they do give the visitor a sense of the past that has shaped the people of the community.  For that reason, I try to visit some of them in each place that I travel. What I don't buy into is the idea that if a traveler spends hours in an outdoor cafe rather than those other places that the time is wasted.  Here is where I differ philosophicaly  with some of my friends who travel.

An outdoor cafe is a place where you can spend time with people in a community, observe how they interact with one another, eat and drink what they do.  Unless you are invited into someone's home, this is about as close as a stranger to the community can get to the people who call it "home".   Outdoor cafes and small, locally owned American coffee houses are something I find very similar in their natures. Each has an unhurried pace where people sit around with their drink and food without a feeling of being rushed to vacate their tables for the next shift.  The cafe staff also operates at a slower rate and they have more personal interactions with each other and the customers who they serve. "Laid back", a 1960's term, is very much the feeling of the place.  This kind of setting is one that generates a favorite kind of travel experience for me.  They are often great sources of good local food, drink, and sometimes even music.

With the exception of one photo, all of the cafes are small and locally run. For some reason, the only outdoor image I have of Paris is the Hard Rock Cafe. Someday I'll have go back there and rectify the situation-one more reason to return to a favorite city.

Thank you for visiting the Tavern, feel free to stop by again.  Until then, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Traveler Temporarily Adrift

At the moment, I'm a bit like this fish that I saw  in Pigeon Key, Florida about a year ago. Life has been spent drifting along following the currents-pleasant, but not very exciting.  Wisconsin winters can be interesting at times, at least when the temperatures avoid being frigid, but days of overpowering grayness encourage me to think about travels past and future.  In less than a month I'll be off to revisit Florida's Gulf Coast...a place of warmth, natural beauty, and a casual atmosphere.  I have two hopes for this trip-the most important is to try to find a place that is walkable like places in most European cities. The second hope is that I'll actually meet people who were born in Florida as opposed to people who moved there from colder places!  I honestly don't remember spending any amount of time last January speaking at length with anyone who wasn't originally from somewhere else. 

 In the following months, there will be other trips as well.  2013 appears to be a year where I'll spend time exploring the diversity of my own country. That's not a bad set of circumstances-there's much of it that I haven't seen. While I'm planning new adventures, I'll remember past travels and they may guide to to travel in certain directions. As part of that  process, I've included scenes in this post from places that I've enjoyed.

                                               artist area in Santa Fe, New Mexico

                                                beach house on Marco Island, Florida

                                                        garden in Paris, France

                                                    canal in Apollo Beach Florida

                                           plaza in Lucca, Italy

I suppose that in some ways, my need to travel beyond my present horizon shouldn't be so pressing.  After all, I do live in a small city on the western shore of Lake Michigan. A large body of water, natural beauty around me, quaint buildings and a variety of coffee houses, an art center and a good library, cultural diversity-what more could I ask for? After all, people travel to vacation here and experience what I can every day.  But there's that horizon with the unknown just beyond it!  Perhaps some day I'll be totally content being exactly where I am, but the time is not yet. Travels still call me to new places and, to be honest I wouldn't have it any other way at the moment.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope that you have enjoyed your visit. Soon I will have new travels to share.  In the meantime, if you are interested in Wisconsin scenes, you are welcome to visit my Flickr page :  In the meantime, may your travels be interesting and enjoyable.