Once I was comfortably nested in my air conditioned hotel room, a thought crossed my mind: I loved my comfort zone. It had been a long day of traveling, and while I cannot claim to have been uncomfortable, I cannot either pretend it was the best trip of my life. I was off for a four hours train ride to Dusseldorf to pick up a student at the airport who, we feared, could have issues at the border (she did not have any). The train ride itself was OK, though it had been a while since I had travelled 2nd class on a regular train for a business trip. I was deterred from opening my computer and work on the couple of documents I had planned to review by the shaky ride, the sweaty heat of the car and the lack of a table and the relatively cramped space, and the absence of screens filtering the heat and the sun. Due to a mess in the train’s itinerary, it did not matter so much: the first leg was so completely jammed up that I had to take three trains instead of one, two being those little omnibus trains with no air conditioning on a very hot day first to Trier, then to Koblenz. Everybody dozed in the heat, and so did I. I fixed myself with the daily Luxembourgish and weekly French press between two dehydrated naps, and read a magazine about the tanks in the 1940 battle of France. I like battle history, and I like the details of the French campaign when the French army was crushed by the Germans, not without heavy fights and casualties. My father was in this bloody mess, experiencing that all the bravery in the world does not replace a sound strategy.

Obviously, my little adventure was nothing compared to the 1940 tragedy, yet, it gave me some material for reflection. One obvious thing is how reluctant Europeans are with air conditioning and keeping cold when it is hot outside. Often people who do have air conditioning in their car for instance just decide not to use it: there is a high risk to catch a cold. At home, my mother (a frail old lady to whom cool air is recommended on those hot days of the summer) does not bother with this diabolic invention. A good common sweat is a European experience.

Do not hope too much to compensate for the high temperature with cold drinks. Drinks are rarely cold. Dull warm cokes, tedious warm water. Sometimes, an ice cube floats in the middle of a small glass of tepid soda, like a lonely fighter fading in the lost battle for keeping cool. I am not all for the ice-cold stuff that is trendy in the U.S. And I am definitely against ice cubes in wine, as they do it in the U.S. or in France to American tourist (once I was mistaken for one, and looked grimly at the floating devices in my glass). But cold sodas, cold iced coffees, cold water in the summer are to my taste—an evident sign of Americanization. And yes, when I arrived at the nice Lindner Airport Hotel in Dusseldorf, I crashed in my bed with the coolest air possible and enjoyed it tremendously. Whatever people say about cultural exceptions, I am not in the mood for bashing the Americanization of the world when I get some coolness after a day of sweating. The same went for the iced soy latte I had at the local Starbucks. And by the way, it was not that iced. Plus, there is still enough of cultural exception to make for a little bit of cold globalization: Europeans do not know about iron boards and irons in hotel rooms, Germans have the most improbable way of making beds (no sheets, and comforters are simply folded at the bottom of the bed) as they have delirious and pricey breakfasts…  I go local with great pleasure: I enjoyed my jelly meatloaf with fries and eggs, my (not cold) white wine and my pretzels and my local cookie as much as I did with my Starbucks coffee. I am not one of those picky American tourists who complain about anything different from what they deem normal in their experience. I just enjoy local life far better when I am not dying from being too hot.

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