In Horta, a little place somewhere in The Azores, which is itself in The Atlantic midway between Europe and the U.S.A, there is a café which is renowned for people meeting to share their stories from having sailed from one side of The Atlantic to another.
I have yet to go there and find this café, however it sounds like it has to be one to add to the quest just for the seafaring stories that this would provide.
It was my newfound friend, Philipe, who I met at photographers’ networking event, that passed on this piece de resistance of cafés extraordinaire.
The conversation that led to him telling me about it began as we compared notes about what makes the difference between observing, and being observed, when hanging out at a café in London – and specifically Notting Hill (where we had just met and live or have lived in) – and compared with one somewhere in Paris or other big cities in France.
Those inside the café in France, Philipe tells me, are generally those who are passing through to grab a quick coffee at the counter and go. Perhaps sharing a story of the day just passed, or a thought for the day ahead. You get to know the local community there. Those who sit out the front of the café are those seeking to observe the world passing by, either musing by themselves or philosophising with friends.
The cafés in Paris (and other parts of France) charge a premium for this world of musing and philosophising, whereas in London and the UK no distinction is made between the observers and the storytellers.
In Horta, no such distinction could possibly be made, as everyone is transient and there only to have some respite from being afloat on the high seas. Most likely, Philipe muses, the stories and the philosophy would abound about surviving that storm at sea as much as comparing notes on how to combat the next part of the journey. What pictures these sea- and sun-burnt sailors must be inside or outside of this café. A far cry from the café of either of the big cities we know, and one perhaps where the same people may only be seen perhaps once in a lifetime – with the tales taller than those the sailors’ masts or mizzens
As a bit of a coincidence, I met Pedro from The Azores last week. He is managing a cafe that has very good carrot cake, where you’d least expect it: at The Bean Room in Hammersmith Hospital, just next to Desk A. He knows this cafe in The Azores, but it is not the only one nor the best – and so perhaps discovering the best needs to be part of the quest. In any case, The Azores is not a very big place at all – so what are the chances of meeting someone from there here, and one who knows about this cafe and works in one himself? Is this a tenuous coincidence, do you think?
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