The cafes and bookshops are alive and seem to be flourishing in Sydney. They host an eclectic mix of humans - some intent on a caffeine fix, some searching for an intellectual moment, others looking for an out of the home office space but most looking to take a break from the chaos they call life. New York City (my home before Sydney) had almost all but lost its cafe culture. As people's lives get more rushed, more busy and more chaotic, one of the places we can go to refuel and escape from the madness was disappearing. Right when it was needed most. The bookshop folded to the fast paced, ease and convenience of anything digital (i.e. Amazon). The local, beatnik cafe gave way to the pressure cooker of Starbucks. Which, by the way, doesn't even take the time to brew real espresso for its lattes. Starbucks prefers the automatic machine for its fast, quick efficient pace.
In Sydney, the pace is fast, but slower than New York. They say there is an average walking speed for each city. Someone has actually calculated this. New York City's pace is hyper speed, can't stop for anyone especially not that tourist taking a photo of Times Square or stopping to buy an overpriced "I love NY" T-shirt. Sydney's pace is meaningful, purpose driven, but okay stopping for the red lights and waiting to cross the street until the green walking man says it's safe.
Is there a direct correlation between city speed and the number of cafes and bookshops? I'm not sure but from where I sit, this Sydney bookstore with the peaceful cafe where I can unwind between yoga classes looks pretty good. Here, I can sit in a comfy, cozy over-sized arm chair which affords me the luxury (but maybe it should be the necessity) of a pause. The luxury to slow down, taste the soy milk frothing at the top of my chai latte and inhale deeply before exhaling slowly.