Thanks for your insights and descriptions here - you are a pretty damned good travel writer, and this post really has something I can *feel*, regarding what *you* are seeing and experiencing, in the cafes of Leiden and Paris - Very cool!
--- In FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com, turquoiseb <no_reply@...> wrote: > > Some may find my raps about "cafe life" boring. For that matter, some > may find the whole concept of cafe life boring, and that's their right. > But I find it fascinating, and as nice a way to pass my time on this > rock as any I've found. > > Bouncing back and forth between Paris and Leiden as I do -- but spending > a lot of time in cafes in both places -- I have the opportunity to > "compare and contrast," to see what the similarities and the differences > might be. The similarities are about what you'd expect, people sitting > outside on a pleasant day, enjoying a pleasant drink or a coffee and > chatting with friends. The differences are less obvious, at first > glance. > > But if you look closer, you'll find differences. In the Netherlands, for > example, I have found on my last few trips back here that people seem to > *appreciate* their cafe life more. In Paris, people tend to take cafe > life for granted, as if it were their "right," ranking right up there > with "liberté, égalité, et fraternité." In the > Netherlands...not so much, largely because of the weather. > > Paris can be gray and overcast much of the winter, but in most years, > one can kick back in a sidewalk cafe pretty much half of the year in > comfort. Here it rains more, is more overcast even when it's not > raining, and summer lasts for maybe a couple of months. So when it's a > *really* nice day like today, people bolt from their houses and spend > the day either on their boats (as described in an earlier rap), or in > the many parks, or at a cafe/bar/pub like this one, Bad Habits. > > And, possibly because it's a more rare experience for them, they > *appreciate* it more. Looking around this cafe, I see far more happy and > laughing faces than I tend to see in Paris. Go figure. > > I suspect that one of the reasons is that the people of the Netherlands > -- or at least the people of Leiden -- are less impressed by wealth and > the trappings of wealth than the French. In Paris, many people tend to > play "dress up" when they go out to cafes, as if in their inexpensive > neighborhood cafes they're somehow trying to emulate the rich people in > their expensive and far more trendy cafes along the Boulevard St. > Germain or the Champs d'Élysées. Here, not so much. > > I get the feeling that Leiden is more like Santa Fe, in that even the > wealthy people choose a cafe for its vibe and its level of comfort, not > for its "see and be seen" factor. This allows them to relax more, and > just enjoy the cafe, without feeling any need to put on airs or try to > be perceived as something other than who they already are, not who they > aspire to be, or aspire to be perceived as being. That's my theory, > anyway. Of course, that theory could be bullshit, and it could just be > that I've picked a cafe full of happy people today. > > At any rate, I'm one of them. I expect I will be when I return to Paris > tomorrow morning as well. I'll be living in an entirely new quartier, > with all-new faces and all-new cafes. And in fact, that quartier is > pretty upscale, so some of the faces will be of the "upscale" variety I > described earlier. I just can't wait to see whether they're having as > much fun being rich as the people around me in Bad Habits seem to be > having being middle class. >