A two-hour retreat – the cafe culture


Strangely, or should I rather say coincidently, many of the previous posts were written in one or another cafe, cafes of different kinds. Vintage cafes with a nostalgic touch, stylish ones with prime focus on minimalism, cosy ones with homely atmosphere, exotic taverns on the seaside, where people spoke a language I have no knowledge of, Greek or Spanish.


(A family-owned cafe in a small town in Tenerife, right below the Volcano Teide)


In a tiny corner, I sometimes find observing people immensely interesting. It is not that I have the weird trait of spying strangers though I did overhear various kinds of conversations in many occasions, unintentionally I must emphasise. It was almost unavoidable given the short physical distance between them and me.


(A small cafe in traditional Swedish style located in Skansen Open-Air museum in Stockholm, Sweden)


In cafes I am made aware of the diversity of human nature, distinct differences or subtle ones which are hard to pinpoint. Unconsciously or subconsciously, I tend to figure out accents and dialects and their backgrounds, either on the basis of my limited knowledge or pure imaginations.


(One of the cafes in the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, Oslo Norway)

I have encountered my fellow observers too, those who were observing me, a little woman sitting alone in the corner, reading and writing and looking around in a discreet way. We might even give each other a smile and a nod, acknowledging our existence and slightly weird behaviour.


(A beach cafe in Crete, Greece)

So here I am, in a corner of the cafe about 20 minute walk from my home. Observing my surroundings is however, not the primary focus today. I aim to finish my next blog post, the one I am writing now. Not only that, I intend to finish it quickly so that I can make time for reading. I am more than half way through the novel “The bridges of Madison County”. I read it in Chinese many years ago, far too young and innocent to catch the essence.


(My local cafe, one of my favourite spots)

Have to get another cup of tea with soy milk, the sun shining outside, the snow melting in an incredible speed. It must be tired too, the snow, tired of lying there purposelessly for months.The spring has not abandoned the country, not completely, that is for sure.


A few pages of “The bridges of Madison county” have comforted the mind quite a bit, those traces of stress have now gone. Robert caught the smallest trace of an accent, Francesca’s Italian accent. Such a charming observation.

My Norwegian has a subtle English accent, someone noticed. And my English has a slight trace of Chinese accent, someone else commented. Language is fascinating, is it not? What about my Chinese I wonder, does it have a trace of Norwegian or English accent, or both?


A two-hour retreat is over, leaving the cafe now. It seems I have come to the end of the post. The sun still high and it is slightly windy. What a treat, perfect for a walk.

Thank you for reading and take care.

With love,

Isabelle ❤️

Author: Isabelle

Literature & language enthusiast 🇬🇧🇳🇴🇨🇳 Dedicated runner & passionate traveller 🏃‍♀️🏝 I am Isabelle and I live with my family in Oslo, Norway. I have three children, a girl and two boys. My educational background: Master’s degree in English Language Bachelor’s degree in European and American studies (language, literature and area studies) Bachelor’s degree in International Marketing Key words: Creative writing Academic writing Text analysis Content editing Linguistics English teaching

54 thoughts on “A two-hour retreat – the cafe culture”

  1. Aww! All these cafes look so amazing. You are so lucky to have a beautiful cafe like this near your home. Cafes have sometime such nice introvert communities. It feels like some great authors of future are sitting there. Which one pf all of these is your favorite cafe?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you lovely littlemisssunshine! It’s hard to pick one, generally I love vintage cafes with a nostalgic touch, which often give me good feelings, and I tend to be a bit more creative. These cafes bring me back in time and I love create different scenarios for my own pleasure 😊❣️

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Neil,

      Thank you for the thoughtful words. Very much appreciated. I love cafes, and letting the mind wander while hiding myself in the corner of a cafe is such a pleasure. Cannot get enough.

      Have been waiting for your post, I like your sense of humour. Your posts make me smile.

      Take care.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Very nice Isabelle😀 great post, 😎 pics & fantastic writing! I really enjoyed reading. You did have that trick of making the reader feel like they where there with you. Thanks!😎

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh thank you Warrior! I’m overwhelmed by the compliment. Did you mean it? Just have to double-check so I’m sure you weren’t kidding 😅 Anyway, your nice comment made my “evening”. It’s literally evening or even night in both the UK and Norway I think. Have a great week! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 😀 Of course I meant it!!!! & I suppose that will always happen with me being a funny twat all the time😝 but yeah I mean it Isabelle😀 great post & fantastic writing. I really enjoyed it thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I gathered that😀 some how, I think? Maybe its the big grin & al the crazy yellow faces😲why some may think I’m taking the *@!# but its just part of the online voice you see😎 glad I gave you confirmation though!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, that table of sweets, yum! What warm spaces and gentle thoughts. You have such a lovely way of writing Isabelle. Cafes, cozy corners, the comings and goings of strangers who touch for a moment in time. I feel as if I’ve spent a quiet afternoon in a far away place. Beautiful, thank you Isabelle 😊❤️

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you for the warm and thoughtful words Suzanne, as always. I actually treated myself with a piece of big-sized apple pie topped with thick cream that afternoon. I sat by the window for about an hour, just to get that remote feeling by imagining how people lived in the past. It was a cold autumn day last year, the coffee they served was so good, not those fancy ones such as cappuccino and latte, just basic brewed coffee. The aroma of their freshly brewed coffee caught me. It was a nice afternoon. Good to know you enjoyed the post Suzanne and lovely to have a chat. Have a good week 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds heavenly all the way round. When I was a girl we drove past a huge coffee roasting plant every morning on the way to school. I loved the aroma of coffee long before I enjoyed drinking it. Thank you for the visit Isabelle. Take care 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Then we’ve got something more in common Suzanne 😊 I also can’t stand the aroma of coffee though I’m a heavy tea drinker. In a cafe I sip my tea and absorb the smell of coffee. I’d love to live by a coffee roasting plant. I associate coffee with good feelings. Happy Easter Suzanne 😊❤️🐥(chicken symbolises Easter in Norway, not sure if you have the same tradition in the US, I put one up there anyway 😊)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I didn’t know that about chickens. 😊Thank you. I love chickens. They seem like such gentle silly birds. I imagine they’re a lot of trouble but I still think it would be fun to have a few some day and gather ones own eggs. Happy Easter Isabelle 😊❤️🐣

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh thank you Kevin! Writing in a cafe calms me down, strange isn’t it, given the noise around me. It feels like some kind of inner peace. A very reassuring and comfortable feeling. Have a great week! 😊☀️🍀

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Indeed! Paying attention to the surroundings and making reflections is a good way to understand the world, and it’s the primary source for inspirations I think. Thank you, appreciate your thoughts very much! 😊


  4. Weather is improving here too Isabelle, yesterday being brightest since many days and warmer at 8 degrees. Snow is melting and lakes trees are coming back to life again. It’s a big relief. Observing people around specially in a different country is something I like too for it makes us realise that we all are same despite the many differences. I do same and it inspires me too. The pictures you clicked are beautiful and I can understand why you would love to read in cafes ☺
    Have a great week ahead !!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you cherry for taking time to give me such a comprehensive and nice comment! Good to hear it’s getting warmer in Sweden too. You know we’re heading to Stockholm soon, it’s Easter break in Norway this week. Haven’t got enough of Stockholm, especially the Old Town. It’s a selection of cafes I’ve been to, I’m glad you liked them. Take care Cherry 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I can see how much you enjoy this time to relax and observe. Accents are very funny and I thought about writing a post on it. There are so many Spanish accents, even within each country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Aixa and it would be very interesting if you would write a post about Spanish accents. I had a subject called “Accents in the British Isles” and we went through many of the accents in the UK. But I have no knowledge of Spanish accents, we travel a lot to Spanish speaking territories and it would be great to know more about the language. I might take a Spanish course some time in the future. 😊


    1. I really do Keen 😊 It seems I’m getting more productive when working in a cafe, or a library. Observation stimulates the thinking process and generates new ideas, it works for me. Thank you for the lovely comment, as always! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I’m very much a cafe-person though I prefer tea when I’m actually sitting in a cafe. Can’t stand the aroma of coffee and warm, sometime intimate atmosphere I feel in cafes. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey Isabelle!!! Visited this yesterday (but my wordpress was in twilight zone and I was blocked from commenting) and thoroughly enjoyed Your thoughts and photographs. I was in a very hurried mood and anxious about the zillion things to do on my list…Your post was a little retreat! I calmed down, took my time and was smiling so big because we experience cafe culture in the same way. You express it beautifully and perfectly. When my eyes latch onto someone else’s who is also sitting silently….just observing….it feels like we’re having our own energy conversation of joyful being ness. It’s been far too long since I made time to cafe…..You are brilliant at it and a constant reminder that it’s time! Thank You and Cheers!!! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you thank you so much Katy!! It’s always lovely reading your thoughts and reflections. A moment I cherish very much. I hope you can sense it, Katy 😊 Sitting on a train right now, heading to Stockholm. A short Easter break from the routines. It will take about 5 1/2 hours, plenty of quiet time for reading and enjoying the view outside. The sun shining and the wind blowing gently.
      That we experience cafe in the same way makes me smile, it’s a lovely feeling that we share something despite the distance between us. Sometimes mind-to-mind interaction is more precious than face-to-face conversation. I think in this way. Take care Katy and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee in a nice place. It does something to the mind and the soul I think. It really does. Thank you. Cheers and hugs!! 😊❤️

      Liked by 1 person

      1. OH!!! LOVING that You are taking an Easter break and are on a train! And yes….I can sense it. Another of my favorite activities!!! Have a wonderful time! I completely enjoy chatting with You as well in this manner. You always gift a smile. And how right You are…it truly does something to the mind and soul to just sit and enjoy coffee/life. Hugs and Cheers!!! 😊💖

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I love your photos! I too enjoy listening into other’s conversations. I used to write the silliness down I heard up and down the country. You realise how alike humans truly are…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes we realise that we are all different, we think differently, and we express ourselves and react in different ways. It reminds me of respecting the differences between people and embrace the world with the right attitude – tolerance and love. Thank you Lana! Appreciate your comment very much.

      Liked by 1 person

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