Cafe number 10.

I loved this place; it was dark, dingy, smoky and generally pure dead mingin’. But I loved the place. It has since fallen victim to the tourist industry and the rapid increase of rent in the Vilnius Old Town.

I never felt safe in this place, the coffee sucked, the beer was good, one waitress was great the other was terrible. The seats were old and worn, the windows were always steamed.

But there is much that I loved about this place. First the clientèle. They all looked like they needed to have a fully clothed swim in a washing machine, most of them seemed to be sucking cigarettes and drinking brandy whilst either writing, reading or planning a revolution. The art on the wall was consistently good, abstract and changing. The music was always indicative of its surroundings and usually consisted of jazz, blues, heavy metal or punk.

Afrika was the kind of place that I would lavatate towards when I was in the mood for one of two things; writing or being shot. It was great!

But I would be doing Afrika a great disservice if I failed to mention its potato pancakes. They were crispy, oven fried, one would take up most of your plate and they were covered in bucket loads of sour cream. Afrika potato pancakes have become the benchmark for all pancakes. And nothing, not even my own, comes close.

Well done Afrika. Vilnius and Lithuania is a lesser place because of your absence.

The words below were written in Afrika back in 2003. They are an extract from a bigger story, but if you bother to read them, it will give you a good feel of the place.

It’s all rather ironic really. As I munger in this café I am stunned by its emptiness. I don’t like the emptiness, the lack of cigarette smoke means my eyes don’t hurt and I can survey my surroundings. I don’t like the surroundings. The blues music only serves my melancholy.

So I study the napkins in front of me. They are pee yellow and boring; they seem to be sponsored by Švyturys Beer. My eye moves to the ascetically pleasing half roll of cardboard in front of me. Well probably more ascetically pleasing if you are a man rather than a woman. On it is a picture of a female angel dressed in a white silk low neck dress. Her arms are bare, her face and hair resembles perfection. Her wings are small and cute and are open above her head. But what I expect is designed to make you want to buy the bottle of plonk on the bottom right hand corner of the card is the fact that she is leaning forward and that the low neck line is hanging open. Funny enough I have only seen men drinking this drink in this café. The only words in the picture say, I think, “Engel Gluhmein”. It is not the local language, but the picture is!

Then I move to the left where I find an ash tray. Written on the bottom of it is “u get connected to the flavour of the world- L&M”. Hey that is my language, bad English, but what does it mean?

… As for me at the finality of my aromic pen pushing… I choose to live happily ever after in the greyness of the romance, oblivious to the cards that I have been dealt – more coffee please.

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