Day 27 of 80 — Last Orders

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 27 : Last Orders

Contrary to popular belief, London isn’t one of these cities that “never sleep”. In fact, it certainly sleeps more than Brussels ! At 11 pm, most pubs close, leaving their clients to face a dichotomous choice : go home or go wild. But home is often too far away to invite the gang back for a last drink. And the wild option implies overpriced clubs and the end of conversation. Oh, how I have missed the quiet Brussels bars opened until late, when faced with the London 11 pm dilemma.

But a year ago I found a secret weapon : when you find yourself at the end of the day, having had enough to drink but more things to say, all you have to do is get to Soho, in the centre of town, for a late-night coffee at Bar Italia. Yes, you read correctly : I did mention coffee. And not just any coffee : a true Italian one !

Like Asterix’s Gaul village, this magical place, opened in 1949, still holds out against the invaders, against urban redevelopments and rent increases. A touch of Italy in a tiny venue opened late at night…

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