It is as if the further north we get, the fewer cafés there are, or the worse we recognise them. In Greece and Albania, if you felt the need, you could always find a place where something was brewed (coffee/tea) or served. In northern Macedonia, they were already a bit harder to find. Small windows, closed doors and no clear signs on the façade. Sometimes there was a terrace hidden behind (transparent) plastic sheeting. In Serbia, we found them only in the cities and in Hungary too, but only if they had a terrace, because there too, small windows and closed doors and no signs on the façade that we would recognise it by… However, you could get ice cream there on every street corner (to take away, so sitting inside to eat up was not possible). Now in Poland, the picture seems to repeat itself: no cafés in villages. Or we don’t recognise them… so when we were cold after the final descent from foothills of the Tatra mountains and came into a town we searched hard for a place where we could sit inside with, say, a cup of coffee. Just as we gave up we saw a sign “sklep bar”. Now every shop has that word “sklep” on its façade followed by what they do next, but “bar” gave hope. As we parked the bike in front of the façade, we also saw people sitting at simple tables; bingo! We went inside. Also some kind of food shop, but more to the back indeed tables. People with a plate of hot food in front of them. No coffee machine or other bar equipment in sight. Looking for a toilet; none… but a serving counter with a kitchen behind it (first impression: soup kitchen). Someone handed the lady at the counter a piece of paper. How does it work here????

The shop with behind the wall and the stove the serving counter with the kitchen behind it.

Back to the shop part. Made it clear with gestures that we want something to eat. Friendly lady points us to a sign with notes. With the help of Google Translate translated a few things and then ordered Pierogi (noodles) with blueberries. The friendly lady wrote it on a note and gestured to follow. She went on to demonstrate how to do it: press the bell at the issue counter and hand over the note. When it was ready, it would be called out.

The noodles turned out to be a kind of ravioli indeed filled with blueberries with creme fraiche and icing sugar, very tasty!

All in all, we got a feeling of a leftover from the communist era. But given how busy it was, it was running well, it still meets a real need. We will definitely keep our eyes open to see if we see more and if the time of day calls for it, we will definitely eat there again!

We’re probably not going to recognise this in cycling past anytime soon 😟

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