Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Librararies and Coffee

It’s that time of year again… when Czech university students are in the throes of exams, or preparations for them, and completely take over the Národní knihovna. They are everywhere with their books on pathology, muscle function, obstetrics, law, and geological strata, and they highlight their notes obsessively in several colors. (Where are the humanities students lurking? Where are the philosophy students, the linguistics students, and the literature students?) They are, for the most part, an impressive lot, although admittedly some claim a spot and then disappear for the greater part of the day. The only way to be sure of a seat, especially one near an electrical outlet, is to arrive before 1:00. For those of us who don’t tend to leave home before about 10:00, this causes some degree of stress.
It is not that I generally get up very late, although I sometimes do, but I like to spend the first part of my morning with a hot beverage of some description. I prefer to drink it while reading or working on something, but obviously the library does not allow me to bring in tea or coffee. This means that the first part of the day is spent either at home or at a suitable café. While as a rule this means home (it is cheaper and easier), I can wholeheartedly endorse Káva Káva Káva. This fine establishment (with two locations, both relatively convenient to me) is one of those rare examples of a successful Czech-American hybrid. It offers high-quality varieties of coffee, either to take out (!) or to drink on the spot, plus various kinds of food, and much resembles its urban American counterparts. It is also an internet café. But it is not merely a hangout for tourists and expats; it is very popular with Czechs. And this is a fine thing. As a rule I avoid places that do not attract Czechs, but a mix of locals and others is agreeably cosmopolitan.

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