‘This place reminds me of the movie Amélie,’ remarks Clara from Spain, ‘Especially the colours and the atmosphere.’ She’s drinking a cup of coffee together with international friends in the new living-room style café ‘Villa Bloem’ in the Kapelstraat.
‘I opened this place three months ago, and since then more and more international students have started to come here for a coffee,’ Joke continues. They come more than Dutch students, in small groups, giggling in their own language. I see Greeks, Spanish, Portuguese, but all of them like the same simple style with school chairs and tables and affordable homemade food. ‘I hope this place reminds them of places back home.’
Indeed, she could be in Spain, Clara agrees. She used to live next door and, like the many other international students of Mediterranean origin, she comes here often. ‘I like this place because of the cosy atmosphere, the gentle music and the no-smoking policy. It’s different and I like a change.’
Villa Bloem is especially busy on Saturdays, when lots of people stop for a coffee after doing their shopping at the market. Joke often has a DJ and from two o’clock onwards people can enjoy their toasted sandwich or home made apple-pie accompanied by live music. ‘Starting in January I will serve breakfast on Sundays too,’ she smiles. ‘And those who want to smoke can sit outside on the French-style couch on the street in front of the window.’ /MV