“The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don’t know what the hell they’re doing or who on earth they are, can for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee, but an absolutely defining sense of self.” Tom Hanks in You’ve Got Mail, Nora Ephron
Where is the Starbucks ?
It started as a gift from Beijing. It was my first.Yes, im a Starbucks girl.I get free soy and flavorings when I can find my gold card. I know it’s a lot trendier to drink Intelligentsia or French Press , but I am an iced grande soy three pump sugar-free vanilla latte.
When I started traveling after many years, I was surprised to see Starbucks. The world had gotten a lot smaller. I bought a mug in Athens, Edinburgh and London that summer. Now I had the beginning of a collection.
It gives me a bit of a plan in a foreign country. I check when I arrive if they have Starbucks (yes,there are some places that still don’t) Sometimes its easy. In Tokyo and Madrid they were right downstairs from the hotel. In Sevilla and Osaka they were across the street.
The only Starbucks in Russia at that time was in Moscow on Arbat Street. I walked with some friends past the Kremlin and statue of Gogol to find it. I took a picture of the Starbucks sign in Cyrillic. No one spoke English in Russia in most restaurants. I said iced grande soy sugar-free vanilla latte. They gave it to me. That was the only thing in Russia I could order without serious hand motions. I had no idea what I was ordering most of the time.
In Vienna I was telling the owner of the Starbucks store about my Russian Starbucks experience. He offered me a few hundred dollars for it . He also had a collection.They were out of Starbucks mugs in Lima . It didn’t taste as good as their regular coffee.
Spending a long amazing day with Anna in Hiroshima and Miajima, I was too tired to go to Starbucks but Anna pressed on so I have a Hiroshima Starbucks mug –pretty incredible considering our history. I brought home Starbucks mugs from every city in Japan – between the coffee and tea, that country is fueled by caffeine.
The Dublin one came from one of the many bookstores. I was shopping on Oxford Street in London and stopped in for Starbucks and found all the U.K .countries.. In Bangkok it was near No Sex Thai Massage. Changing planes in Hong Kong I picked one up on the way. My friend Lisa brought me one back from Munich and the following year I went with her. My daughter took me to the one near her room when she was studying in Prague. The tour guide in Hanoi had never had Starbucks before. I bought him his first one.
Their mugs travel well. You just wrap them in a t-shirt and throw them in your suitcase. They don’t break.
The stores look exactly the same as they do here – complete with the same people sitting with laptops. It always reminds me of one of those dreams where you are in a place that you know but you don’t. The food is different. . There are interesting fresh juices and fabulous thick hot chocolate in Spain. The UK has my favorite ginger cookies. In Japan, there are beautiful green tea desserts and it is all about shorts ( a discontinued size here) . There are excellent looking pastries in Vienna, Prague and Germany (where afternoon is always cake time) The Starbucks are always crowded.
I drink coffee from one of the mugs every morning. All the mugs have a story and stories last forever. Sometimes it is a friend’s story of a place I haven’t been to yet. It is the perfect gift for me. This blog was written this morning while drinking out of a New Zealand Starbucks mug.