The large, glass-walled cafe was the first thing we saw as the ferry pulled onto the shore. It had snowed the previous night and the ground was covered in barely-there crystals, melting fast under the noon heat. We had tickets to go up the observation tower next to the cafe, but found ourselves edging closer to the glass walls instead, the space inside glowing with twinkly lights and the buzz of happy conversation.
Once inside, we were seated at a sun-dappled desk by a huge window. Our table had tiny pink flowers strewn over it, and the cafe smelled like the best parts of beer and coffee. It sounds like an unappealing combination, but it wasn’t. It was perfect. We asked for local beer recommendations and got two different ones, both delicious.
We unbundled our scarves and hats, and sat there for what now seems like ages, but then seemed like just the right thing to do. We chatted with our server, watched our fellow diners and ordered more beer. It was only our second day travelling, but it already felt like home. What I liked the most was how everyone at the cafe looked like this was where they would most rather be. It was a simple observation, but I haven’t felt it anywhere else since.
When we described our trip to family and friends, I inevitably ended up omitting this part. I think it’s because the tranquillity of those hours is difficult to describe verbally. I know, though, that those who know me well will understand how I almost always associate the happiest thoughts with cosy surroundings.
I don’t remember the name of the cafe, but I think that’s a good thing. I don’t want to go there again – not in a planned way, anyway. I want to stumble upon it, on a cold winter morning, in a new, wonderful city, with no expectations and no agenda. It was that kind of place.