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McDonald's

Value-added tax refund scheme for foreigners in Uruguay

Value-added tax refund scheme for foreigners in Uruguay

— Now that we’re back in Uruguay for the last few days of our South America trip, I thought I’d share an interesting value-added tax scheme being used to promote tourism in Uruguay. Apparently, if you dine at a restaurant in Uruguay and pay with a non-Uruguayan credit or debit card, the value-added tax or VAT— which is rather substantial at 22% — is automatically refunded to your card. Generally, I prefer to pay in cash at restaurants, since servers can’t always be trusted not to mishandle a card.
Montevideo, our first day of sightseeing in photographs

Montevideo, our first day of sightseeing in photographs

— After about twenty hours of traveling, including an overnight flight, our first day in Montevideo should have been a throwaway. We did have a short power nap when we arrived, but shortly after that we began a walking tour of our neighborhood and the surrounding areas. Two blocks from the guest house we found Teatro Solis, one of the most noted theaters in Uruguay. The reason so many people are milling around the theater is because, as luck would have it, this weekend is a celebration of national patrimony, so there was a lot of free cultural programming going on.
France’s most courteous McDonald’s order-taker

France’s most courteous McDonald’s order-taker

— Kathryn and I visited a McDonald’s today for the first time this trip. The store was near an autoroute just outside of Reims, France. Our order-taker was willing to pose for a photo. She spoke nine languages, repeated our order correctly the first time, charged us the right amount, and gave us a receipt without being asked. I don’t know this for a fact, but I assume she’s willing to work more than 40 hours a week without overtime pay and has never demanded a “living” wage.

Passing through Atlanta Hartsfield en route home

— I’m at the Atlanta Hartsfield Airport in the boarding area for the flight back to Phoenix. After an exhausting flight from Johannesburg, at this point we’re roughly three-quarters of the way home. The formalities in Atlanta were tolerable. The low point, as usual, was the TSA checkpoint. For the second time this trip, it was Kathryn, not I, who lashed out verbally at a TSA “officer”. The CBP folks, on the other hand, were both professional and personable.
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.

Heidelberg, Germany

— It was still as hot as hell in Europe (well over 30º C) everyday without a pause. It was Monday, and Kirsten and I decided to go to Heidelberg, Germany. We boarded an ICE (Inter-City-Express) train to get us as far as Karlsruhe, and it was wonderful. According to the literature, it travels twice as fast as an automobile and half as fast as an airplane. It was nicely air-conditioned and had jacks to plug in headphones for eight-channel music listening, which we actually used, and had adjustable pillows on the reclining seats.