Friday, September 26, 2014

It's Not Them, It's Me

I will post about my quest for the best latte in town later, but for now it's important to know that I've gotten a latte or a machiato at maybe 20 different places in town, ever searching for the best one.  After the first couple of tries it became apparent to me that I was not doing it right.  I wanted to walk in, order an espresso at the counter, pay for it, drink it, and leave.  anyone from Knoxville who has seen me at Old City Java will be well familiar with this approach.  This is very much not the proper way to get coffee at a cafe in Ljubljana.  
First, you are supposed to sit at one of the lovely outdoor tables and wait for the waitress to come.  Then you are supposed to order the drink.  And then you wait at the lovely table.  Then the drink comes and you drink it, enjoying your seat and your view.  Then you have to find the very nice waitress and ask for the check, because for whatever reason they NEVER bring you the check in this country.  I think from asking Slovenian colleagues proprietors worry that they seem rude or pushy if they bring the bill, so they politely wait for you to ask.  

I'm not kidding about the lovely outside tables either:
After a few tries doing it the American way, I realized it would be less upsetting for folks if I obliged and sat down like a proper Slovenian.  And I could barely stand it.  Really.  I know I'm a horrible American, but sitting for 20-60 minutes just to have a cup of coffee drove me absolutely nuts.  I'm American, I have places to go!

But, the more I thought about it I realized that it was absolutely me and not them.  Look at these photos of people enjoying life al fresco:
And no one is looking at their phone or working on a laptop, they are just sitting still, often with family or friends, enjoying a beautiful day, and some good espresso (or wine or beer if it is any time after 9:30 am!). 

Seriously, who is the person who needs to rethink his priorities?  I'm the guy who rushes into a cafe, orders a drink at the bar, tries to pay before it is made, and then knocks it back and rushes out.  And it's not like I never waste time at work once I'm there (I'm writing a travel blog for God's sake), it's just that I am (so far) constitutionally unable to sit still for the amount of time it takes to properly order and consume espresso in this town.

Hopefully time will bring more wisdom and patience.  Or I could take what I imagine to be Glenn Reynolds' excellent advice: if espresso makes you want to rush off to work, give up on finding the best espresso and search for the cheapest and best glass of red wine to enjoy al fresco.  There are different implications to that path, but it would certainly encourage stillness.  

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