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Some people are coffee drinkers. Some people are tea drinkers. As is the life of a Gemini, I have become both. And then, it got me thinking about how integral such simple things like coffee and tea are when it comes to travel.

The concept of tea is HUGE, globally. There are tea ceremonies. There are countries who only drink tea. The tea industry is a major commodity for some countries and tea is highly respected in some cases. Likewise, coffee is more of a cultural commodity. Starbucks can be found in almost any city you go to, and a cappuccino or espresso is something you don’t take for granted in certain places. “I CAN’T FUNCTION WITHOUT MY COFFEE!” is something I often hear travellers say, especially in places where coffee is not readily available or admired.

Write about how coffee or tea has influenced your travel experience.

Need some inspiration? Check out my vignette below:

I’d taken one semester’s worth of Italian at college, and for the most part, I forget all of it. True, it is similar to Spanish, which I remember more of, but in my opinion, Italian sounds more lyrical, more romantic, more historic. I wish I’d stuck to it, but oh well. It’s hard to maintain a third or fourth language when two others dominate otherwise.

The thought of a “truck-stop” in the middle of the Italian Alps is somewhat comical to me. I thought things like that were for white-trash Americans on a road trip to some diner or the “world’s largest ball of yarn,” a place to pee instead of a grassy knoll. Yet here we were, taking a break while Albie fills up the coach with petrol, giving us a chance to stretch our legs between Innsbruck and Venice.

People stock up on Pringles, chocolate bars, bottles of soda, paninis for the road. I go for something a bit different however.

“Une doppio espresso, per favore,” I say to the man behind the coffee counter.

These Italian rest-stops are a bit tricky. You order your food or drink, and the counter person gives you a receipt. You then have to go to another counter and pay for your order while it’s being made. The cashier will give you a second receipt, which you then bring back to the person making your coffee or panini, who provides your goods in exchange for an additional piece of paper. Very convoluted, very Italian. And they totally have the right to deny your order if the papers don’t match up.

The man behind the counter does not roll his eyes at me, or grumble in Italian like he does to the other people at the truck stop. He pauses, for a moment, surprised at my use of Italian. He studies me – I am of Italian decent, and I think he is trying to figure out if I am a native or just another tourist who knows the language. He gives me a receipt, I go to pay, I bring back the paid receipt, and he gingerly places the tiny cup of coffee into my hands, a small cookie resting on the saucer beside it.

I sip the espresso; it’s thick, bold taste is comforting at eight o’clock in the morning. But one thing I know for sure, sort of disappoints me:

This Italian truck-stop espresso tastes better than any coffee I’ll ever get in America.