It’s Not Yer Starbucks, Mate!



Ah, weary traveler. Suffering from jetlag on day two and you crawl out of bed at the wee hour of 4:30 am Glasgow time because well, the seagulls were screeching near the window and you couldn’t sleep anyway because you are still behind in hours. Run to the hotel gym for a bit, then walk the city streets to figure the town out. Yes, that’s me. And yes, remembering that previous times being in the UK and the coffee not being very American, even an Americano not seeming right, it may be a search. But wait, I spy an American export. It’s a Starbucks. Maybe they can get my coffee rightish.

Stand in queue and wait, yes it will have to be an Americano, because sadly I have to do decaf these days. Okay. Wait, there’s only milk. Scratching of head (heid). Um, do you have cream? Yeah, we have pouring creme behind counter. Okay. Ooo, this is like heavy creme. Waistline expands while pouring.

Creme for coffee is not really left out in the cafes of Europe. In the States, many of us have half-and-half, what we call creme. Not so in Scottish Starbucks. Most Europeans drink smaller servings of coffee than we do, and use whole milk as cream. Starbucks may have a slight feel of your local, but you are in another country and it caters to the region. So, things are a bit different. And probably more healthy. America tends to supersize and so does our waistlines. You know you are going to gain a bit of weight no matter how much you exercise and tour, because damn do they deep fat fry here. So maybe milk is better. But since I am so ingrained in my coffee ritual, because I had to cut down on the caffeine, I ended up buying milk and pouring creme and set up a mix in the fridge for the service apartment I was staying in. Add a small amount of butter and eggs for the stay and I was set. MMMM. And they taste different than in the US. Tastier in fact.

In the US we are subject to so much factory farming that the taste has gone out of our food.  This is not to say there are not factory/corporate farms in the UK. They seem to have better use of local farms and markets. Many of us go to smaller food stores and buy health food, grass fed coos milk to make up for it in the US. You can get better foods in the US if you try, but the flavor is always going to be different in another country. Different soil, grass, cows. You also may get in the habit of taking tea in the afternoons along with the natives in the UK. Great way to de-stress. So milk is the thing.

Don’t whine at the Starbucks, adapt and adjust. Think like a European.

Or, better yet, go to the plethora of independently owned cafes and carts. I had one of the best coffees in Scotland at a student run cart just outside Edinburgh Castle. Tasted just like it came out of the PNW and I told them so. I was so happy to find some damn fine brew and said “Just like in the PNW!”, and the lad was off explaining how they roasted their own beans and they were part of a collective of like minded coffee brewers. Great, felt like a barista in Portland but with the accent. Had a lovely chat about the changing coffee themes in Scotland, explained to him the concept of half-and-half creme and he might do a mix and tell the Americans, they would love it and Twitter like mad about him. Seemed to like that idea, so Edinburgh may get American creme yet.

Best Coffee Places in Glasgow

Best Coffee Places in Edinburgh at the Scotland Coffee Lovers Blog – So happy I found these guys, can try a new one each day

The Top 10 Independent Coffee Shops In Town Dublin

Galway Cafes

Where are the Washcloths??

Staying at hotels and B&Bs, you will find does not include washcloths. If you ask for them at the counter, they will not have them. Of course you may think, why don’t they adapt for tourists. Well, it’s their country. In the UK, they have large body towels and hand towels as standard, that’s it. And some places don’t use a top sheet in the bed, especially if they have a duvet cover on, they wash that instead.

There are often radiators in all rooms and you will need to adjust them to ambient heat for your stay. Not too bad, very efficient. If you live in a older US city you are use to this kind of heating, but if not, adjust. And bring a sweater, even in summer. There have been some heat waves in the UK, and one year I was in London it was like being in Los Angeles, but bring the sweater or one ling sleeve shirt just in case if traveling in summer. The rest of the year, bring at least one sweater.

The wall sockets must be turned on. Most hotels and B&Bs are on energy miser mode. Again you are in another country, not the gas guzzling, electricity using US. These places like their Lecky bills low, and utilities in the UK are very high. Then you need to learn how to use the dial water heaters at source for showers. This is fun, let me tell you. Sometimes you have to pull a switch in another part of the bathroom. So, make sure radiant heat is started, pull of clothes and fight the switch. If you are traveling with someone,  get a system going!

This is why I told you to start training for travel, means training the brain as well.


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