For the first couple of days in Amsterdam and the Netherlands, I thought “met sparkles” might be the most important phrase I learned. In the King’s English, that is: “Sparkling water, not plain ol’ flat water, please, good sir and/or madam.”
Not that I’m some Fancypants who needs sparkling water, but when it’s the same price either way, who wouldn’t want it met sparkles?
So that worked for a bit, until I also figured out that at your typical dining or drinking establishment, beer was the same price — or less — than either variation of water. So, I mean, what kind of idiot isn’t ordering met alcohol?
Before this two-week trip, most of our travels have been to developing-world locales, where water is more notoriously scarce and weary journeymen are not advised to drink it even when they do find it running from a tap. There we wouldn’t venture far without a liter or two of bottled water in our packs. I was surprised to find it nearly as scarce in first-world Europe, too. I can count on two fingers the number of times water was served gratis at a dining table.
I’ve got a long list of faults, not the least among them is [insert self-deprecating phrase about height, shoe size or inflated ego]. Not on that list is “poor at hydrating.” I drink water like crazy. It’s like I’m a camel staring down a thirsty elephant at the last watering hole in, well, whatever place on the planet that a camel and elephant may coexist. So to have drunk a few glasses of beer — or, fine, water — at a table, and to leave thirsty, and then to know that you were going to have to pay for your next drink, and then to have to immediately start figuring out where to get that next drink… Well, that was not the most fun part of the trip.
It sure made me glad to live in a place where there’s plenty of fresh water available, and a place where I can safely just drink from the end of a water hose, if I so choose. Heck, that’s a luxury that not everyone even in this country enjoys. It’s a luxury that not everyone in this state enjoys.
And, as I drink down a cold glass of clear, refreshing water, pondering one of the Good People Brewing Co. IPAs in the fridge as a chaser, I vow not to take a lack of thirst for granted.