A whirlwind of cafe romance in Spain
Blogger Melissa Kim depicts Spanish cafe imagery with the lens of European romance visitors love and expats love to live in.
I'm sitting in one of those gloriously charming cafes adorned in Catalan modernism - of the curved and organic architectural variety, high ceilings and bulbous lighting. Even after a few short moments, I can practically feel it dripping: a terribly romantic afterglow which can only be found in European coffee bars.
The elderly couple sitting to my left is settling in - interestingly enough they are sitting on the same side of the table, just the two of them, on the more comfortable booth side. This, to me, is a curious sight. They are not one of those horny young couples looking to make out; however, they are holding hands, which I think rather endearing. He's wearing a bright, spring green sweater over a pink button down shirt.
A couple of cafés con leche later I realize, from my perspective and without being utterly obvious, that the old lady is not wearing a wedding ring.
Maybe they're having an affair, I finally conclude.
What is it about cafés, like this particular one in Barcelona, that are so quintessentially romantic? I can nearly smell the smoky haze of old world and wartime eras. I see beautifully vintage clothing, gloved feminine hands, and dapper, uniformed men; the clinking of beer glasses or coffee cups after an evening supper. My mind wanders, and I try to imagine what this city would have been like decades ago; what kinds of daily conversations transpired over cups of coffee here.
It's a bit difficult to imagine a whirlwind 1940s romance in a Starbucks or the Wi-Fi coffeehouses of Los Angeles I have become accustomed to; with writers clicking away on their laptops (admittedly, I could just as well be one of them).
Don't get me wrong, I like Starbucks. It is familiar and consistent. I also like cafés with free Wi-Fi. But I love the idyllic affair of coffee bars in Europe -- I get a social and personal experience here that I don't feel present in the cattle call of drink names being bellowed out to impatient patrons over the drowning sounds of pulling espresso shots.
Cafés must undoubtedly derive their romance from part of the "European Dream". From the opening scenes of The Tourist and major plotlines set in Paris (the city of love, of course, glamorized on a global level) like "Rick's Cafe Americain" in Casablanca, to historic tales of legendary artists like Picasso who frequented coffee bars, cafés have been romanticized in movies the world over.
Let's forget about the ambience and the architecture for a moment. Let's think about the basics: a cup of coffee. The smell of coffee is romantic. It appeals to the olfactory senses and produces a visceral reaction, like the perfect demitasse cup of espresso or just the right touch of foam on a café con leche.
All beverages enjoyed within a well-planned and detailed space, where complete strangers who have absolutely nothing in common gather, sit, and drink a coffee. As opposed to a noisy pub, where most of the crowd is inebriated and half of them are obnoxious or belligerent.
Even each café is unique. Some are decidedly modern, trendy, and cater towards the young and artsy crowd, complete with an art gallery or bookshop. Others are historic, serving traditional regional cuisine and attracting an older clientele. Cafe de l'Opera on Barcelona's La Rambla has reflective walls adorned in gold designs; its waiters pass around delicious cups of chocolate caliente and piping hot churros. Bar Velódromo has become one of my favourites, with its lofty ceilings, sweetly soft lighting, long bar and pool tables.
I love being in cafés even more on rainy days. They're less crowded, and a million times cosier. The majority of cafe frequenters have decided to stay at home (lucky for me). Who knows what might happen if the right, handsome stranger should walk in?
I read a few more pages of my book before rising and paying my tab. I have decided that I like this joint. I'm enchanted.
Hey, my waiter's kind of cute, I notice. I'll take my coffee with a side of romance, thanks.
Melissa Kim / Expatica
Read more of Melissa Kim's blogs on her site www.melissaleavesthevillage.wordpress.com.
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