Can I Get a Soda … with Ice?


110 degrees.

110 degrees and there is not one place in Europe that offers cold drinks. Forget ice. Ice simply won’t happen. Asking for a little ice in our drinks is like asking the waiter if they’ve been to the moon. You’re likely to get a “W-T-F-G-T-F-O” face staring back at you.

I don’t know why Europe doesn’t serve ice with their drinks.

But, it’s 110 degrees outside and we’ve walked through just about every museum and shop whose idea of air conditioning is to crank it to a very low, practically freezing 90 degrees—if there’s even AC. So, a little ice is nice and there’s pretty much only one place to get it:


I can hear it now: “Are you kidding me? I would not think of going there. You brave the heat and tepidity for a little local flavor, you got that?! Live like a local, heat stroke and all!”

Europe’s McDonald’s are –for lack of a better word—different. They’re just plain different. Like the McDonald’s in London that was offering “The Tastes of America.” I didn’t even know America had different tastes…Or that you could call “Arizona” a taste (does it come with a side of cactus?) Or the German McDonalds that have the Los Wachos. The Los. Wachos, people.

For some, I’m sure McDonald’s is off-limits because it’s sooo American. As in, “I don’t want people to think I’m dining here because I’m American.” The fact is, a lot of the people in a European McDonald’s aren’t American. All the Americans are somewhere else desperately trying to fit in and be as very unAmerican as possible. But, you know, no matter how much you try to fit in and not be yourself, you’re still you (just ask my 8th grade self). You’re still American. You still walk, talk, and wolf down your food so fast, people think: “yeah, has to be an American.”

It doesn’t stop at McDonald’s either. The KFC in Bangkok adds a spicy kick to their fried chicken with rice. There was also that time we had Pizza Hut in Luxembourg. It was unlike the normal experience that people associate with the Hut. You know, where you call in and then get a cardboard-flavored pizza delivered to your front door. Instead, we dined outdoors, ate a pretty tasty pizza, tried a couple of different beers and garlic breads and watched the afternoon turn to dusk.


So, if we happen to be so hot that my body has found a NEW place to sweat and leaves me thinking: “OMFG, I didn’t know I could sweat there,” and we want some ice with our drink, then yeah, we’ll be those only Americans at McDonald’s.

Sure, eating nothing but fast food can get old, unadventurous and possibly extremely boring. It can be unhealthy to rely on nothing but fast food. But, sometimes, you find yourself in a pickle; a hot sweaty pickle, wanting to save a little money, or with a deep interest in something that seems different.

Sometimes, you just need the familiar. Like an ice cold drink. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

Ice people. We need ice. Tell us a time you searched high and low for something that reminded you of home!

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25 responses

  • Oh that sucks because I currently live in those temps and have plenty of ice and A/C – it’s what makes it all bearable. If you have any travel towels with you, soak them and toss them in the fridge, if you’re staying at a hotel/guest house, ask them to do it for you. 10 minutes in and you’ll have a delightfully refreshingly cool neck wrap for the next hour or so.

    • We didn’t think of travel towels. That’s a good idea to toss a few washcloths in the mini fridge. We get those hot temps in LA sometimes. But we’re close to the beach. So, I feel sorry for the suckers who are inland, but then I think: marine layer, bay-bee!

  • Hahahaha I also ate Pizza Hut in Luxembourg! It was a fabulous experience. No shame. I feel your pain with the ice situation. I was in Denmark for three weeks this summer and of course while I was there they were experiencing an unusual heat wave. NO. ICE. ANYWHERE. We went to some sort of fast food joint and even THEY didn’t put ice in the drinks. I asked so many times and got the same weird looks.

    • I feel no shame in indulging in a wholly American product while in a European country. Because lets just be honest: they had a better pizza experience. 😉

      That’s what we were experiencing too! It was a massive heat wave. They must have had a lot of Americans asking for ice.

  • I can’t remember the last time I ate a McDonald’s back in North America—there were always so many better options! However, since we’ve been overseas, we have definitely found ourselves stopping in when we spot the famous golden arches, whether it is for clean bathrooms, to take advantage of some air con, cheap ice cream and drinks (with ice!) or even a more substantial meal that we know won’t rock our world but we know exactly what we’ll get (unless we order weird local specialties like the “Chicken Maharaja” in Japan!) and that while it won’t be mindblowingly good, it likely won’t get us sick either. Generally in Asia eating at McDonald’s is more expensive than a lot of other options and we’ve found there definitely isn’t the stigma attached here that there is back home—for many people, they consider it (and places like Pizza Hut & KFC) to be a fancy restaurant. Last night we were desperate to end our meal with something sweet so we wandered around the mall here in Surabaya, Indonesia looking for a fast food restaurant—sure enough, when we spotted an A&W, we were able to nab ourselves hot chocolate sundaes for just 60 cents each!

  • Italy was stifling hot in June and I had to stop in an air conditioned restaurant to get cooler after performing a presentation in an un-air conditioned gallery in Mantova. I was ashamed that it was a McDonalds and yet I never enjoyed an ice cold Coke more.

  • I’ll admit that I even though I haven’t eaten it in years at home, I craved McDonalds on my last trip like crazy. It was just so dependable. There was wi-fi and a clean bathroom, and yes, AIR CON! and a menu with pictures that you could point at when we didn’t speak the language. I think its a weird type of cultural experience to check them out in different countries anyways with their different little twists on things. McDonalds in America could really learn a thing or two by checking out the foreign ones.

    • Hi Britany,

      Thank you for commenting. I’ll bet Europeans come here and think our menus are different, too! =D

      We were dying from the heat, so we figured dependable ol’ McDonald’s would have ice and AC. And sure enough, they pulled through. =)

  • Haha! This reminds me uncomfortably of my trip too. I just spent the hottest parts of July and August wandering around in 40+ degrees Celsius, completely torn between drinking lukewarm (at best) drinks or going into an international fast food chain (which I’m fundamentally against doing while traveling). On atleast one occasion, though, I did give in and go into McDonalds and DEVOUR a McFlurry ;P

    • You’re were in Europe at around the same time we were. That was probably the most epic heatwave I’ve experienced. This is coming from someone who lived through 120 summer heat. McFlurry’s are cold as ice. I don’t blame you.

  • i love that you wrote this. call me crazy, but i love mcdonald’s. and i love, love going in foreign countries and figuring out what kind of crazy food they have on the menu (the spicy chicken sandwich in beijing was so soicy it made me cry!). love it! and also love that you went to pizza hut in lux! we may need to travel together sometime… :)

    • I loved our experience at Pizza Hut. It wasn’t the best pizza ever, but it was nice to enjoy it out on the patio dining area just people watching. =D

  • Ha ha, we’re not big on the old air con over in Europe! And sorry you couldn’t get ice, although it may not be a bad thing. We’re always told not to take ice in other European countries – something to do with the mineral content of the water giving us bad tummies, who knows??? :)

    • Interesting. I had no idea that there was a problem (I guess you could call it) with the mineral content. We just figured ice is ice and that’s that. But, now, it’s starting to make sense. =)

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