It’s not news. I work in cafés. The first order of business when we move to a new city is to begin the search for a café that fits. Here is a pictorial look at some of my favorites in the world.
McP's Irish Pub, Coronado, California
We lived ten years in Coronado, California, the town that dominates the head of the peninsula forming San Diego Bay. McP’s, owned by a retired Navy Seal, and a popular hangout for military special forces of all kinds, was mostly a bar, which has now morphed into mostly a restaurant. I went there pretty much daily, and some of the Hatch trilogy was written there.
Bar section of the Café Riche, Pretoria, South Africa
Pretoria, South Africa, was the most difficult place of any city to find a café that fit, or actually, to find a café at all. It was not safe to walk around in Pretoria, day or night, so a car was required to get anywhere. The Café Riche, an historic old place virtually in the center of downtown Pretoria, was as good as it gets there. Pretoria is the only city I’ve lived in where working in a café was rare, and the only time I have written primarily in an office at home.
Gremium Café, Bratislava, Slovakia
We lived in Bratislava for about seven years. I was teaching philosophy at a university there much of that time, and because of the mental demands teaching requires, did very little writing, and none with an intent to publish. This is the café were I met students for the required office hours; my “office” at the university was a sterile cubicle, and I thought this café more interesting and conducive to inquiry. I never took a photo of the place and found this one on the web. The place has been extensively remodeled and updated since my days there.
Café Aedes, Berlin
We lived in Berlin for four years, and my most recent published novel, The Common Bond, was finished in this café, (above) one of my favorite places in the world. In the apron is the owner, Giuseppe, a transplanted Sicilian, and on the right is Ferdinand, also a regular at Café Aedes, who was working on his PhD dissertation in International Law. (A blowup of this photo hangs on the wall beside the bar in this café.)
Before finding the better fit at Café Aedes in Berlin, I frequented this one (below), which is in the same Charlottenburg neighborhood, about five blocks between them. I stopped going to this café because the owner, an Iranian, in the white shirt, center, with his wife, began making me uncomfortable after Bush’s war adventure in Iraq began.
Café Bleibtreau, Berlin
I am often, or used to be, in Vienna, coming down from Berlin occasionally, and making frequent trips across the river from Bratislava when we lived there. There are at least a dozen truly fantastic old world cafés in Vienna, but this one is my favorite, and also one of the oldest continually operating coffee houses in Vienna.
Café Sperl, Vienna
Il Caffè San Marco, Trieste, my usual table
Another San Marco writer
Two photos (above) from another of my favorite cafés in the world: Il Caffè San Marco, Trieste, Italy. Three days in a row, this young woman sat across from me, both of us writing with a pen in a notebook, like bookends, and then I never saw her again.
The George Pub, Hampstead, London
I am often in London, or used to be, anyway. When there, I stay in Hampstead, and this is where I work — and drink. It is on High Street.
Interior of the Café Bonaparte, Georgetown, Washington, DC
We lived in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC, for two years just prior to coming to Buenos Aires. I worked here everyday. Right before we left, The Common Bond was published, and the first publication party / reading / book signing was held here as an invitation only private party. Whenever I’m in DC, this is where I go.
Mama Racha, Palermo, Buenos Aires
It took about six months in Buenos Aires before I wandered into this place, and it soon became my Buenos Aires office. I almost always sit at that empty table on the bottom left. I have written a longer post about this place elsewhere on this blog.
A small section of the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore
We’ve never lived in Singapore, but in the early 90s, spent a couple of months there, using Singapore as a base for traveling around Southeast Asia, including Hong Kong, Vietnam, Bali, and Malaysia. When I took time to write a little, I came here. Another view:
In the Raffles, Singapore, home of the Singapore Sling
Hope you enjoyed this little photo essay on my favorite world cafés. Does anyone else here do most of their writing outside their home? The photos have been edited down for faster loading, but most of them can be blown up by clicking on the picture.