Tuesday, September 06, 2011

The world wide language of McDonalds and Coffee

It seemed wherever we were in Europe there were two common things, coffee and McDonald's. J is not a coffee drinker, but I cannot go without at least one cup a day, usually more than that. I drank way too much coffee our one day in London trying to stay awake. Then in Hungary and Serbia, sharing a conversation with our friends over a cup of coffee was wonderful. Right outside the lobby of Trey and Randi's apartment was a coffee shop where I had the best mocha ever. I would definitely be an addict if I had that right downstairs from me. In Rome I had wonderful cappuccinos, a little stronger than I am used to, but still great. And in Greece I indulged in Greek frappe's, a cold coffee drink with foam. I had to buy a can of it to bring back and had to look up the directions online the other day since I couldn't translate the Greek on the can. And back in London, after church on Sunday, everyone gathered in the lobby for a cup of coffee or tea. I noticed there were two reasons people were drinking coffee, no matter what country we were in. Either they really needed some caffeine or they needed a conversation. One morning we were at a coffee shop in Rome and noticed more than one person coming in and drinking a shot glass of espresso and heading out the door. They really just needed their caffeine fix I guess. But mostly we noticed people making a connection with someone over a cup of coffee.

Back at home, we try to avoid McDonald's if at all possible, but not on our trip. We experienced first hand what our friends living in foreign countries have told us, some days eating at McDonald's is just the best thing ever. Some days we were so tired and stressed from trying to follow a map or understand a foreign language that seeing those golden arches just made us smile. Some days we were so overwhelmed with how much food cost that ordering a cheeseburger, fries and drinks for two for under $10 felt like such a relief. And some days, eating there made us think of our kids, and feel a connection to them. We noticed in Rome that they would post signs with arrows and an estimate of how long it would take you to walk to the closest McDonald's. Their estimates were sorely underestimated, but once we had that in our heads, we were willing to walk miles to find a McDonald's. My favorite McDonald's memory was at the airport in Athens maybe? (They have all blurred together) I just had the sweetest moment of connection with my husband over a cheeseburger. And at the table next to us was a father and daughter. He had gotten her a happy meal and just sat watching her eat with such joy. They were speaking another language (not Greek) but even though I couldn't understand them, I could understand that he loved her, he was proud of her and she was loving her chicken nuggets and fries. I also loved that at many of the McDonald's we visited, they had a McCafe, but not like ours in the states. These were full blown coffee shops with pastries and so many different kinds of coffees in real mugs, not paper cups. It was the best of these two universal languages put together. Thank you God for coffee and McDonald's.

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