By Fatima Raza
Have you ever heard someone say something and immediately thought to yourself “no way?”
Just last week, I learned that cows can only be female. My ENTIRE life, I thought cow was the word for the animal but no—it’s literally just the word for the adult female cattle. Then I was told that vacation-high and post-vacation blues are real things. I thought everyone was exaggerating about missing the food or experience after coming back home but boy did I learn that once you get ’taste’ of vacation, it’s hard to forget.
It all started on a chilly Tuesday evening in December. I was waiting at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, just hours after finishing my last exam. Where was I going, you ask? India! But, as someone who hates any flight longer than five hours, I decided to plan two pit stops along the way. I figured it would also be good for my Instagram highlights. Let’s just say that evening, only one thing was flying high and it wasn’t my grades.
To kill some time and soothe my caffeine crave, I grabbed a cup of Tim Hortons iced coffee that never seems to taste the same. I’m convinced that Tim’s headquarters releases the recipes through a broken telephone system and by the time it makes it to any of my local shops, you get the most warped and wonky version.
Two sips later, I was down to a cup full of ice and that atrocious soggy paper straw. “Get a reusable straw that doesn’t taste like the bottom of a shoe,” I tell myself every time. Old habits die hard I guess.
Tossing my cup into the trash, I headed over to my gate.
First Stop: Madrid, Spain
I stepped out of the airport and was greeted with the fresh breezy air of Madrid. There was only one thing on my proud Canadian-wired mind—find the nearest Tim’s.
Courtesy of Dora the Explorer and Duolingo, my limited Spanish vocab got me to a Tims. I was shocked at the length of its menu. With so much on the menu to choose from, I got a cup of Papaya and Pineapple Juice along with a Runny Nutella Cookie. Honestly, even if my computer served me these runny “cookies” nothing could stop me from accepting them. The cookie was nothing short of exquisite. This was one of these “no way” moments. You’re telling me Tim Hortons is capable of this and yet I can’t even get the Strawberry Filled Donuts at my local Tims?
After spending hours devouring the delicacies available exclusively at Tims in Madrid, I had to depart and head off to catch my next flight.
Second Stop: Stopover at Birmingham, United Kingdom
With the flavours of Spain still fresh on my tongue and the shock of Tim Hortons being capable of something more than just the bare minimum, I knew I had to visit a Tims here in the UK. Despite being an airport Tims, the menu was surprisingly huge.
Sriracha Hot Dogs? Pancakes? LATTICE FRIES? Where am I? The most my Tims has given me is a pain in the ass from having to repeat my order 50 times before the cashier gets it correct or having my Boston Cream Donut kissing the paper bag.
After spending a healthy seven hours at Birmingham airport, it was time to head to my last stop.
Final Destination: Delhi, India
You guessed it, my first stop after arriving in India was their Tims. Let me just start by saying they were serving and I’m not just talking about the Chicken Tikka Croissant Sandwich.
With just one bite, the flavours and aroma took me right back to my mother’s kitchen. As a Canadian who rarely gets their hands on a nicely toasted croissant with a semi-melted slice of American cheese, this heavenly sandwich came as a shocker.
Paired with the scrumptious croissant, I drank a cup of Kadak Chai, which is a strong black tea with aromatic spices such as cardamom, cloves and ginger infused into the milk. Needless to say, it easily puts any “chai tea” to disgrace.
Homecoming: Back in Toronto
Instantly coming out of the airport, I was greeted with the gloomy skies of Toronto and the effects of my vacation high began to wane.
In the days leading up to school, the lack of sun was getting the best of me. After a few days laying around, I decided to get myself Tims on the way to my first class of the semester. Conveniently enough, my class happened to be in Victoria Building, right across the beloved coffee shop.
“I’ll have one small chai tea, two milk and two sugar,” I said. The thought of the Kadak Chai from India fogged my brain and the shame of saying “tea tea” was eating me alive.
“And one Boston Cream Donut,” I added, hoping the cream and chocolate would fill the void of not having runny Nutella cookies.
“Sorry, we’re out of those.”
I shut my eyes and inwardly shook my head, thinking if I try hard enough, I can turn back time and return to my vacation bliss.