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.