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Would you like ice in that?

Generally, Americans don’t want their drinks to be just cold; they want them ice cold. So cold that you could put the glass up against your face and it would cool you off in the summer. And it’s most definitely something that you take for granted.

On my way to Europe, the American crew of my flight reinforced this concept time and time again: you would get a can of soda with a cup of ice, a cup of water full of ice, or even a cup of plain ice. Ice is also put in your orange juice in the “morning”. (It’s morning in Frankfurt; it’s like 2 am at home).

The shuttle ride to the hotel is efficient and uneventful. The room is ready- excellent! But I’m thirsty and I want a drink of water. Maybe even a soda. I don’t see an ice bucket in the room. Maybe I’ll just take my water glass down the hall to the ice machine. So I walk up and down corridors in vain. I even take the elevator to different floors. No ice machines. No soda machines. I go to the front desk and ask for the location of the ice machine. After a long pause, I hear, “I’m sorry, Madame, there is no ice machine”. So ends the conversation. After all, what else is there for either of us to say?

I decide to look on the bright side. I’m not in my hometown, I’m in another country, and it’s time for me to adjust. I take a walk and come across an outdoor market, and there’s a vendor selling food with a cooler full of cans of soda. I decide that I don’t need ice; just a cold drink will be fine. I open the cooler and reach for a can of Sprite. It doesn’t feel very cold, though. I look down and see an electric cord coming from the cooler, but it isn’t plugged in to anything! I’m now thinking, I wonder what a lukewarm can of soda tastes like. If I hadn’t been so thirsty, I wouldn’t have found out. But I tried it, and it wasn’t bad. It occurred to me that ice might be overrated. Suddenly I felt very European.

The next morning at breakfast I had my new philosophy tested. I went through the line of a buffet breakfast and took some milk from a pitcher for cereal. When I tasted it, I discovered that the milk was room temperature. I now realize this concept may apply to all drinks at all meals. Ultimately I must ask: why do I even think this is important?

As I continue to process this information, I decide it would be interesting to just carry a bottle of water and not worry about whether it was refrigerated or not. Suddenly I don’t feel so much like a tourist, because I’m trying something different. It’s an adventure now.

For the rest of my trip, I recklessly disregard whether drinks are cold at all, and I dare to buy cans of soda that are displayed on pushcarts in the sun. Who cares? Later, on my way back from Frankfurt on a German airline, the flight attendant came through with his cart of drinks during the flight. He asked me what I would like. I asked for a Sprite, and when he got out a cup, I added, “No ice, please.”

More by this author on her travel blog.

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