Hidden Gems

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good walkabout (aka walkies). While he didn’t come up with the term (obviously), my friend EJ adopted the term to mean “wander around looking for a party, people, or trouble to get into,” when we were attending Macquarie University. I modified it when I began to explore Sydney, and subsequent cities I have lived in and visited.

When I travel I come up with an outline more than a schedule. I have too many schedules in my life as it is. One of my favorite things to do is pick a part of town and go “walkies” discovering cafes, coffee shops, stores, bars, pubs, restaurants, and anything else it has to offer. Sometimes I flame out, and sometimes I find great food and amazing places. Here are my Top 3, so far.

FUCKOFFEELONDON, UK

Fuckoffee in Bermondsey, London.

I am an earlier riser and London really isn’t that type of city, in many respects. It’s tough to find a coffee shop that opens at 6 am or earlier. Although it wasn’t on the way to my office, Fuckoffee was worth the wander. Tucked away southeast of London Bridge Station, and on the packed Bermondsey Street, it’s worth walking to the end.

The walls are adorned with the portraits of such lovable historical figures as Margaret Thatcher and Josef Stalin. The food selection is really good, and offers a ton of healthy and not-so-healthy pastries, and the coffee is great. It quickly became a staple of my mornings and I of course stopped by when I was back in early 2020. They also have a location in Bethnal Green.

RUST – OSLO, NORWAY

rust in Oslo, Norway

When I visited Oslo, Norway to see some old university friends I had no idea two years later I would start studying the language, but now wish I had started earlier! I had several days to explore the city, and knew next to nothing about the place before I arrived. After visiting the Royal Palace (Slottplassen) I wandered north to a bookstore, but more about that here. After grabbing a coffee, and a couple books of course, I rounded the corner looking for food. That’s when I came upon rust.

A cool bar/restaurant, with a great outdoor seating area (complete with heaters), was a great place to eat. I also did that thing where something sounded amazing but I forgot the extra work it takes to enjoy it. This time it was mussels, since I was so close to the ocean. They were amazing, and so were the couple beers I had. When I get back to Oslo I am definitely heading there, but probably get something a big easier to eat.

LABOR TEMPLE DINER & BAR – ASTORIA, OREGON

The Temple Diner & Bar in Astoria, Oregon.

I like getting up early and I love diners, so when I arrived in Astoria, Oregon at 7:30 am one day I immediately sought out a diner. One of the few places even open was the Temple Diner & Bar. This place is awesome: old school diner atmosphere, awesome and friendly staff, and a separate bar. Not sure what more there is to life?

I ate way too much, as is customary for me at places like this, but it was well worth it. They have a great menu with a lot of unique specials, and will make anything to order. The cook was very talkative and nice, and the location can’t be beat. It’s my new go to in Astoria.

Not much to wrap up here, except when you’re on vacation in a new (or old) city, don’t stick to a hardline schedule or plan. Give yourself time to wander, and ask the locals what are the non-tourist areas (within reason). It will be a much greater experience for sure.

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