Eastern Europe Does Outdoor Cafés Really Well

Cafe-5Happy Thanksgiving. It’s time for festive food and family if you are lucky enough to have both. When I was in Eastern Europe last month, I noticed how important family was to Eastern Europeans. Food was also something they took very seriously, using fresh food bought at large markets or grown at home. I will have a post on “home” cooked meals we had in private homes. It was part of the program we had to experience life in the countries we visited. Another food related activity I found charming, was all the outdoor cafés all over cities of Eastern Europe. Why are they good for cities?

Colorful, contributing to a vibrant city culture, outdoor cafés make streets more dynamic places to walk, socialize, and dine. These are places not just about coffee and a quick bite, but places of ambiance and atmosphere. Café traditions around the world differ, but it is completely normal in Eastern Europe to linger for hours, reading a newspaper or checking the daily weather online.

Street-sceneCan you see these places for the meeting of creative writers, poets and artists, lingering the day at their favorite table, musing or writing?

CafeIf you want to know the latest news and gossip in town, have a seat at one of these colorful, flower-decked cafés like the one in Prague above and below. The leaders of the communist party once considered the cafés as a fulcrum of underground organization, and closed many down. Today in Eastern Europe, they thrive vivid with cultural life.

Cafe-2Looking up the street, you see both old world and a truly cosmopolitan city in each visited. Inhabitants are diverse and so is the delicacies served. You definitely want to have your taste buds fired on any trip to Eastern Europe. I was so fearful that I would have little I liked to eat and I did not find a dish not to enjoy.

VendorsIn this day and age, Americans don’t socialize like they do elsewhere. In Eastern Europe you don’t see people always on cell phones. You see them sitting on benches talking, in the cafés meeting friends and shopping the street vendors. Sure some are on computers in the cafés, but many times it is those alone.

Street-ArtAs creepy as this statue appears to us in the US, it really is a fun addition to the street. I never once saw leering construction workers checking out the women in short skirts. There must be a different sensibility in Eastern Europe. They sure do have the scenery.

Along-DanubeOver on Nature and Wildlife Pics, you might want to get in on a debate. It is an interesting post on a bird that causes a lot of gardening grief, at least to some folks.

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About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at: http://gardenwalkgardentalk.com
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33 Responses to Eastern Europe Does Outdoor Cafés Really Well

  1. They seem to have a more relaxed way of life, and enjoy each other and, take the time for each other. Great photos too.

  2. Really interesting; I am the product of our eat-and-run culture. I don’t know if I could I slowdown and enjoy life like this…Great photos.

    • When i was working crazy hours, I too was an eat and run gal. Now I would appreciate this lifestyle, but it can only happen in summer here. The outdoor dining in our area does not get as many patrons, they go inside for the air conditioning.

  3. Outdoor Cafes are characteristic in most European countries [minus the Northern countries maybe] probably a sign of hospitality and openness… I love your Prague photos! No wonder it was Mozart’s [and many artist’s] favorite city! 🙂

    • I would bet you have quite a few in Greece. I agree, it is a sign of hospitality. People there would greet patrons in such a friendly, warm manner. I think artists and musicians all love Prague. There was quite a few of both professions all over Prague.

  4. Pat says:

    Beautiful photos. Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. I agree that family is more important in Europe. They often work together at family restaurants, and very proud of the food and service that they provide. In the US, food service is just hard work, and a job while you are pursuing something else. Sad.

    • I agree, here it is often a step to another job. Look at how many actors worked as waiters and waitresses before moving on to their profession. I think though with TV, being a chef has been elevated in the professional world. They are watched on TV and I think that changed where people look at it as a profession to seek, even for fame.

  6. bittster says:

    Beautiful, welcoming places! I’ve seen more of this type of outdoor seating sprouting up in cities, but I don’t know if it’s as popular here or if our more extreme weather turns people off to it. At least more and more cities are waking up to the idea of a better streetscape with pedestrian friendly areas, outdoor art, seating, and overflowing flowers!

    • In college, our city planning classes promoted mixed-use cities and having “activity” on the streets. Our designs had to encourage walking the city and meeting others. Also important was having structures pedestrian friendly, that means 3-7 stories high, not skyscrapers. Too tall and streets are heavily shaded and very windy. Asphalt streets were hot. Too much to get into here, but what we were taught, a sustainable city is very much like how European cities are designed. Their age was from when they were sustainable.

  7. We love outdoor dining and some cities in the US are better at it than others. One I’m familiar with is Atlanta. Our daughter lived their for awhile and when we visited her when we went out to eat it was always one that offered the outdoor dining. Of course they have the climate for it, too.
    It is also very popular in some Canadian cities as well. We’re not too far from Kingston, Ontario and they have quite a few outdoor dining area as well. I hope the experience continues to grow in the US, because like you said it really adds another nice dimension to the cityscapes.

    • I agree, it is becoming more popular on streetscapes. The only problem is getting people to use them and not go indoors for air conditioning. Our tech-heavy culture lives indoors far too much in all seasons. Across the border I see the outdoor dining in Niagara Falls, ON but rarely see them really busy with patrons.

  8. Happy Thanksgiving Donna, and thanks for sharing the wonderful photos of Europe.
    They definitely have a more social attitude than we do and our very divided country could learn from that!

    • Thank you and same to you Mary. I think you are right in our country today we need this type of friendly socialization. Only problem, I think the way it is now with these riots, those organized and bussed-in vandals have no desire to change and work with others. Too easy to riot and take what you want rather than patronize a store.

  9. Dining out is an experience to enjoy and take your time in Europe. I was a waitress in Austria and families tended to eat late and it was over several hours. In some countries you paid extra to sit outside to watch the world go by. That is as important as the meal itself. It also meant that people didn’t eat as much as in America as well. Great photos. 😀

  10. Even in chilly Aberdeen cafe owners optimistically placed tables and chairs outdoors. I guess I will encounter more of this south of the border.

  11. Rose says:

    More and more restaurants in our area are opening up outdoor seating areas, which have become very popular during good weather. But with limited space, so often they face a parking lot or a busy street. These European cafes are so much more inviting!

    • You did hit an important point. Generally, the restaurants in the US were never designed to have sidewalk seating, nor were our cities designed to allow the space. Our street scenes are not comparable, with too many tall structures. Pedestrian malls (people only, no cars) in the US are iffy as to and if they work to attract a walking clientele. Buffalo has one and they want to remove it. Niagara Falls has one and people really don’t use it, so it is harder attracting businesses.

  12. What welcoming areas! I remember seeing them in Germany many years ago. I’m glad that there are more outdoor eating areas in the United States now.

  13. I love eating outside at a restaurant so Europe is always fun,

  14. A.M.B. says:

    Great photographs! I love outdoor cafes. These ones look so charming.

  15. I’ve enjoyed outdoor cafes in Paris and St. Mark’s Square, Venice, and loved them. They just don’t seem to have the same ‘feel’ here. P. x

  16. The cafe in Prague looks so similar to Rome. Eastern Europe really does do outdoor cafes well, some of my favourite in London are the Polish cafes in Ealing.

  17. Lula says:

    Donna, you have a good eye for street photography!

  18. Brian Comeau says:

    Hi Donna, Great photos! It looks like you had a wonderful time. Sorry I’m a bit behind in my blog reading. The fall has been extremely busy but I’ll try to get caught up. 🙂

  19. I found the lingering at the outside cafes in Italy similar although the ones you experienced are far lovelier…I love the idea of lingering at a cafe and chatting….

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