Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Czech Cafe Culture

The Czechs have a strong cafe culture, a legacy of their time under the rule of Vienna. In summer you sit outside under awnings watching the world go by, in winter you sit inside supping warming drinks before braving the snow and ice. This picture shows one of my favourite cafes "Two Widows" in Cesky Krumlov - an ideal place for both winter and summer cafe culture.

I have spent many a pleasant hour sitting in Czech cafes, drinking coffee and watching others doing the same. Life comes and goes there. Old friends greet each other, women arrive with bags of shopping and chatter. The Czechs have a particular line in elegant women over a certain age, who sit upright at their table and hold their cups with little finger extended. At other tables business is being done over the coffee cups, men produce laptops from briefcases and discuss spreadsheets, shake hands and go their way. Backpackers compare notes on hostels and restaurants, talk of the next stop on their tour of Europe or discuss the news from home loudly.

A middle-aged man pulls up in a vintage sportscar of which he is clearly very proud, he combs his hair in the rear-view mirror and then takes his seat at a prominent table. He is waiting for someone. Sure enough he is joined by a rather beautiful young man. At one table sits a small boy, his father is talking to a friend at another table. The boy's father has given him a gameboy to play with and a milkshake. The boy rests his head on the table and bends over the game – pointedly displaying both concentration and boredom at the same time. Then my husband and son join me and I must stop my game of people-gazing.

1 comment:

Philip Wilkinson said...

The Two Widows is also the name of an opera by Smetana - one example out of many of the influence of music on other aspects of Czech life.


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