Sunday, November 19, 2006
European Café Culture~Linköping style
Though much more so in recent times due to a growing coffee culture connected with a certain worldwide coffee chain (give it up for Seattle!), we in America generally don't do the café nearly as well or as often as our counterparts in Europe. Taking time during our busy days to sit back with coffee, tea, sandwiches and pastries as well as friends, acquaintances and strangers is a time-honored tradition throughout Europe, probably most notably in France or Italy or other Mediterranean-based locales. I just don't think of Germany or England when picturing the quintessential café experience. And while it's not quite as treasured or celebrated (yes, even with fika) in Sweden, Swedes can lounge and chat and sip and eat and waste a day at a café with the best of 'em. I know. I've seen it. I've done it. I love it.
Since this blog is dedicated to sharing about my experiences here in Linköping, I would be remiss to exclude my beloved café time. If my calculations are correct, I spend on average 8 - 10 hours per week at cafés in Linköping usually reading a paper (International Herald Tribune if I'm looking to be informed, Dagens Nyheter if I'm working on my Swedish while being informed), studying svenska, reading a book, people watching and still relishing this unexpected experience in Sweden. For those of you in Linköping, you can almost always find me on LiU's campus at Cesam or at either Wayne's Coffee or Cafe Cioccolata downtown, places I feel comfortable setting up shop for a couple hours or more (break through the iPod and say "Hejsan" if you happen to see me).
Special greetings to Wayne's Coffee workers (Simon, Josep, Armand) for the reliable welcome, chat and svenska practice.
The picture above is of Vic Knight and friends during this afternoon's Thanksgiving celebration at his house in Tranås, which is about a 45-minute drive south of Linköping. The American holiday of Thanksgiving is this coming Thursday, so Vic invited me down to take part in a feast with some other Americans or Swedes very familiar with American traditions (but the picture is, of course, of our post-meal fika). Thanks for the warm welcome and hearty meal, Vic.
Next week's Linköpinglivin edition will be from Prague in the Czech Republic where I will be visiting my Dad who is teaching English in "Praha." We're going to have a memorable and unexpected Thanksgiving together a long, long way from home.
Happy Thanksgiving to all in the U.S. and for those Sweden-based readers, I look forward to the onset of my first Swedish "Jul" coming soon.