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, 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.

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