“This coffee falls into your stomach, and straightway there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move like the battalions of the Grand Army of the battlefield. Things remembered arrive at full gallop, ensuing to the wind. The light cavalry of comparisons deliver a magnificent deploying charge, the artillery of logic hurry up with their train and ammunition. Similes arise, the paper is covered with ink; for the struggle commences and is concluded with torrents of black water, just as a battle with gun powder. “
Honore de Balzac
Top Ten Coffee Travel Moments
I realized by writing this blog that I am addicted to caffeine. There are way too many references to coffee. It is the only vice I have left. I thought I would embrace it by writing my top ten coffee travel moments.
!. I am seventeen and in Europe for the first time. We are in CERVINA in the Italian Alps. There is a cappuccino bar that we go to every morning and have fresh cappuccino before a day of skiing. It is pre cell phones and Starbucks. The only cappuccino you got in NY was in the Italian restaurants after dinner. There was no decaf cap. Cappuccino every morning was as big a deal as skiing in the Alps for the first time.
2. The island of SANTORINI in Greece is where i am spending my twenty third summer. I am staying at my friend’s house on a mountain overlooking the sea. It is one of those Santorini white houses with blue tile. We have to walk halfway down the mountain every morning to have coffee and fresh bread with butter and honey, at a café run by a family that doesn’t speak English. Santorini was not the five-star tourist destination it is now but it always had five-star views of the sea, volcano and black sand beaches. . “kafe me gala sketos parakalo” The grandmother always dressed in black would smile at my bad Greek pronunciation and bring me my coffee. They used condensed milk all the time with coffee and I love the taste. I think they wear black because someone in their family close to them has died – usually they are widows.
3. My daughter who is twelve and her tap company have performed at the Cuban Ballet Festival throughout Cuba. We are driving back to HAVANA from Santa Clara. Since Petrol is scarce, members of the Columbian Ballet Company are sharing the bus with us. We get back around five and I have a serious lack of caffeine headache. I invite the Columbian dancers who I have spoken to in bad Spanish for a coffee at the hotel. I order a double espresso and drink it down like I am doing a shot of tequila. First they stare at me and then they laugh and do the same. We start by drinking espresso shots –we move on to Mojitos. No one slept that night. (Cuba,Jim Kane)
4. We have arrived at the SACRED VALLEY in Urubumba, Peru. We are spending the night at the beautiful Sol Y Luna hotel and the altitude is 9000 feet. (2400 m) It is our first night in the Andes. I start to have this headache and feel dizzy. As we are going to our rooms someone says to me, “Be careful, the headache is the first sign of altitude sickness”. I go right to the worst case scenario. I remember my mindfulness training as I am going into high anxiety mode. I investigate the feeling in my body and think it isn’t that severe. It feels like a lack of caffeine headache. I remember I didn’t have coffee that afternoon. I relax and go right to sleep. I wake up early and have a wonderful Peruvian breakfast of yogurt , fruit, kikucha cereal ( grain like quinoa) and coffee. No more headache.
5. I usually hate instant room coffee. But in PANAMA it was really good. It is called Puro and I brought some home. I have a confession. I kind of like non dairy creamer Sometimes your diet needs a few chemicals. I got up every morning in Gamboa to watch the sunrise over the rainforest and had a coffee while lying in a hammock on the terrace.
6. Anna and I have spent the day on the island of NAOSHIMA in Japan. It is the island that Tadao Ando has designed and dedicated to art and nature. There are museums, outdoor sculptures, galleries and installations in houses throughout the island. It is a bit like a scavenger hunt trying to see everything. But we did it. We are at a small ferry at the other end of the island that locals use to head back to the mainland . I am looking for coffee. We see something that looks like it might be open. We walk in. There is cool music and magazines and interesting furniture and art . It is like a Japanese Greenwich village coffee-house on this little island street. We can’t believe our luck. We have coffee and wait in this beautiful restaurant for the ferry and talk about our amazing day.
7. I had been in the incredible city of VENICE for a few days with my daughter and a friend. My son arrived after traveling around Europe alone. He had a lot to say and wanted to have a coffee in Venice and talk about his travels. We sat in a café on the canal and he told me his stories. I was happy sitting there listening to him and I could hear that he loved to travel as much as I did. Family travel moments are few and far between now. It was a beautiful trip.
8. It was my first day in ISTANBUL. I had shopped at the Grand Bazaar with my guide for the day Renan. We stopped for lunch. We met carpet salesmen from Los Angeles. Suddenly, it didn’t seem so far away. This was my first experience with Turkish food. Hot yogurt soup and something with my favorite vegetable –eggplant. – delicious. I had my first Turkish coffee. (a lot like Greek coffee) I loved the thickness and the feeling of the grounds in my mouth ( coffee that you can chew). It isn’t bitter either so I am able to drink it without milk. She read the coffee grinds to me. We used to do this in Greece. It was my first coffee fortune in a very long time. It wasn’t bad. My next one wasn’t great. So I stopped doing it and just drank the coffee.
9. I am in EDINBURGH, Scotland for the Fringe Festival. My daughter is performing there with her high school theatre group. In the summer, walking down the Royal Mile is crazy. Everyone is in costume and giving out flyers and performing and begging to get you to go their shows. The Starbucks is right at the beginning of the Royal Mile, next to the Fringe Ticket Office. I meet a friend for coffee after picking up some tickets. We are surrounded by Vikings and Elizabethans all having cappuccinos and lattes. In fact, only the barristers are dressed in modern-day clothing. I felt a little underdressed.
10. A few weeks ago, I was walking down Portobello Road in LONDON with my college friend Suzie. Suzie was the first person I traveled around Europe with . We were about eighteen. We lost touch after college but reconnected a few years ago through the magic of facebook. We were both going to be in London at the same time. We aren’t looking for vintage clothes like we used to (and still do) but vintage housewares. It is freezing out. We go into a coffee house and see a long queue. It is called the Coffee Planner. The girl in front of me says it is the best coffee on Portobello Road and worth waiting for. Suzie buys an unbelievably good sandwich from a vendor outside and we sit and drink our coffees eating this sandwich. Jayne and Suzie together again in Europe. ( St. Paul’s Cathedral from the Millennium Bridge)
Do you have any good coffee moments?