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Mondial Kaffee (They're worldly because that have two different languages in their name)

JAPAN | Saturday, 20 February 2016 | Views [333]

Saturday was another fake-spring day. I'm not sure if there's a real word for this, but it seems like there should be, because it's a phenomenon I'm very families with. In early March, or February, or sometimes even January, the weather will suddenly turn spring-like. Not just warm, though that's a large part of it. But there's also a certain feeling in the air and the sound of the birds that makes you think maybe it really is spring. Maybe you can skip the remaining cold months and jump straight to flowers. And that's never the way it works, but you get several consecutive days of spring to make the remainder of winter more or less bearable, depending on your personal preferences. I love these breaks, and try to take advantage of them whenever I get them.

Saturday, the weather was spring-like in more than warmth. It was also raining on and off the entire day. Well, you know the saying- February showers bring sakura flowers. (This is definitely not a real saying, but it should be.) Which, if you got the timing right, made for the perfect kind of day to find a cafe to head to and spend the day. Sounded like a great plan.

Given my wandering around to find a random café hadn't worked terribly well the day before, and I did in fact want a place I could go with my computer, I decided to do some research before leaving. After pulling up a number of websites, place names, and reviews, I finally found one that sounded promising. Mondial Kaffee. The general consensus of the reviews was that it probably wasn't a great place to eat, though there was a promising Oreo muffin. But if you wanted a place to work (one review specifically mentioned laptops being OK, and there was Wi-Fi) or drink coffee, it was a great place to go. The person who made the coffee had won multiple awards for being able to make coffee, and he could do good latte art. I wanted latte art. So off I went.

The café was not located in Umeda, which made getting there potentially more complicated. It was possible that all I had to do was go to the nearest train station to my apartment, get on a train in the right direction, and ride it until I got to the right place. It was also possible that I needed to go to the train station closest to my apartment, get on a train, get off a few stops later, get on another train, get off another few stops later, get on a third train, and ride that to my final destination. It all depended on the timing. The right timing and the train would take me exactly where I wanted to go if I just waited long enough, the wrong timing and it would take me somewhere completely different.

This is of course what time tables and Google maps are for. With a bit of planning and practice, you can look at the final destination of the train and determine if that's the one you want. I don't yet have all the practice I need to know which trains will get me home or to Mondial Kaffee, but I suspect that is something I can learn. And right now, Google was telling me that if I left now I could just ride the same train to get there. Sounded like a plan.

I got on the train and, checking every few stops that I was still on the right train, off I went. Successfully getting off at the right station was such a success that I forgot the station was not the end point, and I still needed to walk to the cafe. And I had no idea how to do that. So I stopped near a wall and started checking directions on my phone.

This is what I was doing when a station attendant came over and started motioning me to come back through one of the turnstiles. He didn't know where I wanted to go, why was he trying to put me back on the train? But I did what he asked. Then he started pointing at a specific point on the ground. There was a piece of paper there. A receipt. When I was getting my wallet out to put it against the turnstile, the receipt had fallen out, so I'd been brought back to get it.

I picked up the receipt, went back through the turnstile, and fled the station. Once outside, I started heading in a direction, only later confirming it was the right way. (If I stayed too long in the same place, I might be chased down for something else I'd unwittingly dropped.) It was starting to rain lightly by the time I got to the cafe, which made for pretty good timing.

I ordered a coffee and a oreo muffin, then was shown a place to sit. The cafe was pretty crowded, so one of the few places I could sit was over by the window, which suited me just fine. I got to see all the people walking by in the rain and feel smugly satisfied that I was warm and dry with coffee.

Coffee

As should be obvious by my description earlier, I’m not a huge coffee connoisseur. I know that I like some kinds of coffee more than others, and that this has some overlap with what other people consider good coffee. For instance, I tend not to like coffee that is served on a moving vehicle. I think most people would agree with me on that. But, although I’ve heard other people talk about some of the things that distinguishes kinds of coffee, I don’t remember any of them. So all I can say about the coffee was that it tasted delicious, and had a very intricate design.

I didn’t think the oreo muffin was terribly good, but it’s probably worth ordering again a few visits from now. One thing I’ve noticed about Japan is that there tends to be a lot of fluctuation, even at the same restaurant, as to how things taste. I found the oreo muffin a bit dry, but if I go back on a different day of the week or a different time of the day, I might well have a different impression.

And I do intend to go back. The atmosphere was nice, exactly what I was looking for, and the coffee was really good. (I’m going to break chronology and admit that I’m writing this a week later just so that I can say that when I remembered I was going to be writing about Mondial Kaffee, I almost changed my plans for the day so I could go back and drink their coffee again, because I suddenly missed it.) I could use my computer without being frowned at, and people showed up just to hang around and talk, but quietly and politely. Although it was crowded, I did get a table, and in nicer weather sitting outside would have been more of an option, probably making it less crowded. Besides, one of their options I didn’t even see until I’d ordered was a Matcha Latte. Given Matcha Latte was one of the things I’d started craving last summer, it seems like I should be sure to get in in Japan while I have the chance.

After finishing my coffee and some of the work I’d come to do, it was time to go. Now that I knew the way to the train station, getting back was easy, and I made it past the turnstiles without dropping anything. According to Google, I should just be able to ride that same train back. I took that with a grain of salt, but mostly believed it. When I heard “Suita Station,” I went, “Oh, that’s good. That’s what I should be hearing,” because on the JR line, that’s true. But I wasn’t on the JR Line. I was on Hankyu, which should not have stopped at Suita. It took me a few more stops whose names I didn’t recognize to realize this. So I got out, went to the other side, rode to Awaji, which was the transfer point, and waited.

A train which definitely should have been the right one showed up, so I got on it. And soon, it arrived at… Suita? I got off and considered my options. I could try once again to ride back to Awaji and transfer to the genuinely right train. That seemed unlikely to succeed. I could try to transfer to the Hankyu line. However, though the name was the same and the two stations were close to each other, they were not in the same building. So I would need to swipe my card twice, which seemed expensive and annoying.

I knew where Suita was. I could walk home from there. And I could, though I wasn’t taking into full account two factors: It was raining, and I wasn’t entirely sure which river I wanted to be heading to. I knew that if I crossed the right bridge and then just walked along the side, I’d be home before I knew it. But it turned out I didn’t know where that river was. And, very shortly, I didn’t know how to get back to a train station either. So I just kept walking along in roughly the right direction. In pretty heavy rain. I felt a little like a Jane Austen character. Pretending I was meant that I couldn’t internally grumble about how spread out the train stations were and how the metro was not that confusing. Seriously. Even the smaller Japanese stations make Chatelet look straightforward and pleasant.

Tags: coffee, metro, oreo, trains

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