Martin’s Social Club, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Feeling a little slow on Saturday morning after one too many beers on Friday evening I emerged from my hotel mid morning looking to have brunch at Martin’s Social Club a block from the hotel.

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Beck’s Coffee Shop, Nagano, Japan

If you’ve arrived by the Shinkansen in Nagano then I can almost guarantee you’d have seen Beck’s even if you don’t remember it. Beck’s is the coffee shop next to the tourist information centre just across from the Shinkansen entry and exit gates.

I’d wandered in looking for a coffee but they had a breakfast special on that would give you a small bacon, eggs and toast along with a coffee for ¥390! And that was including tax!

The coffee was reasonable, as were the bacon and eggs.

If you’re waiting for a train, and you don’t want to wait on the platform, you can wait here while you have a coffee and snack, and all train departures are shown on a couple of TVs on the wall so you won’t miss your train.

Certainly not the best coffee in the world, but it did the trick to wake me up.

Ishikawa-Mon, Kanazawa, Japan

After purchasing my day ticket for the Kanazawa Loop Bus service, I joined the long queue to people waiting for the bus, but in about 10 minutes I was in a seat on a local bus heading towards Kenrokuen Garden and Kanazawa Castle. I followed the crowd and got off at the Ishikawa Gate bus stop and went for a little wander.

I was looking for a coffee and stumbled across a small coffee shop.

Wandering in I saw there was only one other customer and the lady who ran the shop. Despite the smell of stale smoke (yep, in Japan you can still smoke in restaurants and cafes) I ordered a coffee that was made in front me me using freshly ground coffee and a small drip filter. The taste was quite good, but as with most filter coffee it was watery.

Regardless, I ordered a second coffee as the other customer left.

As the only customer the owner was interested in where I was from, what I was doing in Kanazawa, where I had been in Japan and where I was going next, so we had a 15 minute chat while I finished my coffee. She pulled out an old atlas and we talked about Australia.

I also found out that she has been in this building almost all of her life, and she works in the coffee shop everyday of the year from 7:30am til 9pm. And only takes a couple of days off work every year. Dedication!

As I was paying to leave she pulled out a tourist map, gave it to me and pointed me in the direction of the Kenrokuen Garden and we said goodbye.

The friendliness of the local Japanese is constantly overwhelming and memorable.