Continuing in the vein of cafes where you least expect them, a friend who runs one of my local cafes – in itself with a hint of alfresco Europe in the heart of London – tells me about a cafe in Park Royal that has been fashioned out of an old warehouse into a sheesha cafe with all the trimmings of old antique French and Arabic furniture.
What led us to discussing this was bemoaning some of the great places that have been lost to the traveller’s delight due to the troubles in Middle East, in places like Syria, Algeria and elsewhere. I was particularly upset to hear about the old market, known in Arabic as a “souk“, in Aleppo. It has been completely destroyed by fire recently.
I remember enjoying a tea in a carpet shop there, as tourists so often do in souks in different parts of the Middle East. The setting had been extraordinary there, as all the other shops in the souk that surrounded this place provided it with a heady smell of spices and other things that you can’t quite put a nose to (unless you are a local). Then there was the bedazzlement of the eye with the feast of colours from all the silks, pottery and silverware. The spices themselves are all bright and different colours (red, purple, yellow and green) and are poured in piles that make them look like mini sand dunes (or perhaps pyramids?). I must to get some photos on here that show one of these places.
One would not expect to find places in London that are a patch like the tea and coffee shops in a souk there – although there are all the stylised places down Edgware Road that you might mistake for being like the thing you’d find somewhere in the Middle East. However Ismail tells me that this cafe in Park Royal manages to capture the atmosphere, if not the full visual and olphactory experience you might get from a tea or coffee in a souk.
So here is another place to explore here in London, before I (once again) go to discover what new cafes are tucked away elsewhere in unusual places that you wouldn’t expect them – or that are simply unique or unusual regardless of wherever you might find them.
A story of mine and Ismail’s visit there will follow some time soon…