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Coffee

Trying something new, Mexican coffee at Tres Leches Café in Phoenix

Trying something new, Mexican coffee at Tres Leches Café in Phoenix

— Every once in a while, I find myself trying something at a place that’s been right under my nose for years. Earlier this week, I had a meeting at my church to go over some volunteer paperwork. The time between leaving work and my appointment was about an hour, which is about 40 minutes longer than the drive. I got on Google Maps and searched for coffee shops near the church, and one of the most highly rated was about two blocks from the church.
I don’t always drink Starbucks. But when I do, I prefer beer.

I don’t always drink Starbucks. But when I do, I prefer beer.

— I’m not a big fan of Starbucks. However, that was not always the case. About eight years ago, I walked into the Starbucks near my office for the umpteenth time that week and handed over almost $2 for yet another “tall” brewed coffee. I sat in the shop for a little while, trying to be excited about my purchase. As I sipped my plastic-covered paper cup of lukewarm sludge with a quarter-inch of dregs circling the bottom because the barista was too lazy to brew a fresh pot, I asked myself, probably for the first time, “What the hell am I doing here?

Starting the trip off right, sort of, with donuts and coffee

— In some sense, our four-day weekend to Kentucky has already begun. We’ve left the house, but we both still have to put in a half-day at work. Since I can literally see Sky Harbor Airport from my cubicle — if I’m standing up, that is — it doesn’t make much sense to return home before our flight. To avoid using both cars when we’re traveling to the same destination, Kathryn dropped me off at a donut shop near a light rail station near her place of work.
Taking a break for Café Bustelo at Gila Blend inside a casino

Taking a break for Café Bustelo at Gila Blend inside a casino

— The play on words on this Café Bustelo sign — assuming it was intentional — might not be so obvious if you haven’t spent much time in Arizona. Gila Bend is a small town in Maricopa County, located near a bend in the Gila River, about an hour’s drive from Phoenix. However, it wasn’t the playful name that lured us into this snack bar at the Quechan Casino, a few miles from Yuma, across the state line in California.
Last meal in Argentina

Last meal in Argentina

— After the all-afternoon struggle to buy ferry tickets in Uruguay a few days ago, we decided to show up at the terminal in Buenos Aires two hours before the 12:30 pm sailing, without a reservation, and hope for the best. Good call on our part. Fifteen minutes later we had our boarding passes and had already passed through the immigration checkpoint. While we’re waiting to board, we’re enjoying our last meal in Argentina — a stale croissant and a café con leche.
And so it begins

And so it begins

— Almost every Friday I have two donuts for breakfast. It’s not a particularly healthy way to start the day, and that’s why I limit myself to once a week. Usually. Last week, at my favorite donut shop, my usual no. 1 — two donuts and a medium coffee — was $2.69 plus tax, which leaves me a bit of change from three dollars. This morning, I ordered the usual, had my three one-dollar bills ready when I got to the register, and was a bit shocked when the woman who’s been ringing up my orders for years said, “$3.
How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

How to order coffee at McDonald’s in Phoenix

— I like drinking coffee. I enjoy eating fast food. I live in Phoenix. You might be inclined to think I’d be a master at ordering a cup of coffee in a local McDonald’s. You’d be mistaken. Years ago, it wasn’t such a challenge. I’d visit a McDonald’s and ask for a small coffee. I’d get a Styrofoam cup with brewed coffee. I’d then turn around and find the condiment station, which would have the creamers and sweeteners and those cool plastic stirrers with the arches on the handles.
Richmond, Virginia: Splurge at the Jefferson Hotel

Richmond, Virginia: Splurge at the Jefferson Hotel

— I don’t often splurge on hotels. It just seems like a poor use of my travel budget. As long as a room is reasonably clean, reasonably located, and reasonably priced, I’m happy. It’s rare that I spend more than $100 a night for a room in all but the world’s most expensive cities. In the United States, the major three-star chains are more than adequate. My plan for our recent trip to Virginia was to spend three nights at a Doubletree near the airport in Richmond.

Berlin, Germany: Keeping properly hydrated

— Having lived in Arizona for almost two years, I should be keenly aware of how important proper hydration is. However, it’s easy to forget here in Europe where the climate is so much milder. Earlier this morning, I bought a 1.5-liter bottle of mineral water while waiting for a train. I was a little surprised that I was able to drink it in about ten minutes. Mostly I’ve been drinking coffee and beer the past couple weeks, and I’ve been sweating a lot as I walk around cities or haul my pack around train stations, so I was probably poorly hydrated.