I remember the minute I stepped off the train from Taipei. I felt defeated — the weather had canceled my plans for the day. Discovering Hualien’s coffee shop scene was never part of the plan, and in fact, it was a complete surprise. Maybe others knew about it, but I surely didn’t. What I found was a welcomed surprise and one that turned the day around in a flash.
But more about those moments of getting off the train… I had stored my bags and started to walk a few blocks near the train station. I was hungry and my maps weren’t working, and after two attempts at asking someone for directions, I gave up. I made the cardinal sin of travel — I settled for McDonalds. I held my head low, called my husband, and ranted about how this day was a bust. I was without a plan, something I avoid at all costs when traveling. Admittedly, I threw myself a pity party for one.
I decided to head over to the hotel to drop my bags off and restart. I scrolled the maps once I got service, and decided I’d do what I would at home — walk the streets. I had saved one cafe that looked decent, and sure enough, walking in that direction was the best thing I could have done.
What I found that afternoon was a bustling coffee scene, with these incredible spaces and killer coffee. The first one I stumbled upon was Soave Plan and I nearly had tears rolling down my face when I found it — the owner surely thought I was delirious. I don’t know if it was because it reminded me of home, or the Japanese-inspired space reminded me of my travels from the month before, but it felt familiar. I settled into my seat with a warm latte and felt rejuvenated — weird to think a proper coffee can do this. As the day continued, I found many more cafes, beautiful boutiques hidden in alleys, and a center dedicated to creatives. Hualien was full of surprises.
Lesson learned? Weather should never get you down and a pity party will get you nowhere when traveling. This is what travel is about — being pleasantly surprised when you least expect it. Taiwan knew how to do this and in a way I never expected. A huge thank you to each one of the coffee shop owners I met in Hualien, your welcome and kindness meant the world.
Checkout some of Hualien’s coffee shop scene:
Address: 970, Hualien County, Hualien City, 成功街280號1樓
No. 55, Mingyi Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
No. 220, Shanghai Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
No. 298, Chenggong Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
Paper Airplanes Cafe
號, No. 35-1, Sanmin Street, Hualien City, Hualien County, 970
*Bon Traveler was welcomed as a guest of Taiwan Tourism Bureau. As always, all opinions are own.