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A McDonald’s travel tale: five lame food adventures

A McDonald's travel tale

A McDonald’s travel tale – You know you have been here – just admit it -Wikimedia public domain

McDonald’s travel tale

Americans and people from around the world have a love hate relationship with McDonald’s. Nobody likes it and nobody eats there, yet there is a McDonald’s every square mile, and each one is busy. Who are the miscreants that dine there? It surely is not you or me.

Ok, I admit to eating there on occasion. While traveling overseas, no one would dare enter the doors of the golden arches, or would they? Travel is about soaking up a different culture and food is an important aspect, so why would anyone stoop to that level and have a Big Mac when they could be enjoying fresh seafood, a local delicacy at a mom and pop’s place, or even a fresh burger with locally raised and fresh beef?

Every McDonald’s visit tells a story don’t it

McDonald's travel tale

Have the golden arches ever lured you in while traveling? I know they have

We have all done it. Just admit it. The funny part about international McDonald’s stories is they are just that. Every trip to a McDonald has a story to it. Usually it has to do with starving, and unable to find a spot that does not serve monkey’s brains or fried spiders, or you were lost and could not find a spot to eat.

The stories usually get more extreme as time goes by to lessen the lameness and highlight the fact that you did not want to eat there, but had no choice. Maybe every other food place in town cost $10.00 and you only had $5.00 and could not access an ATM until the next day. It was either go hungry or golden arches. Maybe there were unsavory pick pocketers or international thugs at every point leading to every other dining spot except McDonald’s. It was either a McRib sandwich or get your ass kicked.

Lack of McDonald’s guidebooks

No one seeks out a McDonald’s while overseas. No guide book has Mickey D’s in the where to eat spot. I don’t think I have ever read a travel blog with a mention of McDonald’s except for travelers calling out other travelers for being lame. There is no app that I am aware of that helps you find McDonald’s all over the world. If there is, no traveler in their right mind would upload.

Here are five excuses or reasons why I ate McDonald’s during my travels. They rank in weakness:  number 1 being the most lame. Just about every blog I have ever written is full of pictures from the adventure in question. Not this one because who would take pictures of a McDonald’s while traveling? Not me, or maybe just once (or twice).

McDonald's travel tale Paris

Nothing quite like an Eiffel Tower McDonald’s travel tale when it comes to being lame

5. Paris, France

During a month trip in France studying World War II, I had to have a break from incredible fresh seafood with fresh dairy sauces in Normandy and hot baked French onion soup on the Champs-elysees to have a quarter pounder at McDonald’s. During one weekend break I found myself in Paris, and lamely eating McDonald’s. The only reason why this ranks least lame of the group is that McDonald’s in France serves beer and wine.

Hayward Wisconsin McDonald's travel tale

A Hayward, Wisconsin McDonald’s travel tale

4. Hayward, Wisconsin

While skiing the Birkie in Hayward, Wisconsin I rewarded my over 5 hour effort of skiing my rear end off with Chicken McNuggets and Mcdoubles. Hayward, Wisconsin is not a place known for its cuisine, but they do have some local places of interest with Friday fish fries and interesting supper clubs. I was staying at the Hayward Intermediary school, and I ran into the janitor. I asked where a good place in town was for chicken wings. He recommended two places. The first was absolutely packed.

I could not remember the second place, so I began to walk around town looking for anything. This plan was not working well as it was 15 degrees with a howling wind. Suddenly, the golden arches shined brightly in front of me, and I lamely entered the forbidden travel doors. I ate a whopping $13.00 worth of food, which has to be a personal McDonald’s record, not that I keep track of such things.  When I returned to the school, the janitor was still working. I darted past him and avoided eye contact afraid he would ask me where I ended up eating.

3. Chicago, Illinois


McDonald's travel tale

Lamest selfie of all time

2. Tokyo, Japan

I have eaten one meal in Tokyo, Japan in my life, and yes, you guessed it, it was McDonald’s. I arrived from the Philippines to Narita. It took me forever to figure out how to get a train into the city and then it was a struggle finding a bus to Kyoto. I had traveled Southeast Asia for so long where a good English speaker was always around to help, that I was mentally unprepared for the difficulty in Japan.

After the logistical trouble of finding buses and trains, I needed a slam dunk for food. I went into a McDonald’s at the train station, and I tried to order a Big Mac. The lady behind the counter prattled off in Japanese. I sat there dumbly until she took out a little picture menu for dumb English speakers like me, and I pointed to a picture of a Big Mac.

Thai food

Delicious Thai food just to prove I am not always a lame food traveler

1. Bangkok, Thailand

I had had enough of fresh fruit dripping with juices, street food satays, delicious fresh ingredients in every meal, fresh seafood as I needed some crap and needed it now. I found it at the McDonald’s in Silom. I have spent close to 40 days in Thailand and had one lame meal, so cut me some slack.

Travelers, please confess your McDonald’s sins by relating a story of a time in your travels when you broke down and entered the doors underneath the golden arches. You can always post anonymously.


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15 Responses to A McDonald’s travel tale: five lame food adventures

  1. Erin at The World Wanderer March 18, 2014 at 1:43 am #

    This is the best blog post ever! I am a big offender of eating McDonald’s abroad, but it’s almost always my pre-departure meal at the airport. I’d chose a quarter pounder with cheese over a salad any day, I can’t help it. It’s also perfect after drinking food while traveling, and one of my favorite McDonald’s nights was in Scotland after a night out. It was packed and we met some of the most interesting people.

    I have to admit, I am fully looking forward to eating McDonald’s while in Bangalore. No shame in this admission at all. I’m proud haha.
    Erin at The World Wanderer recently posted..Music Monday: All I Want.

  2. Erik E Smith March 18, 2014 at 1:44 am #

    Tel Aviv, Israel. I was shwarmaed out…

    I did make it 28 days in New Zealand in 2012, and 24 days in Europe last year without 🙂
    Erik E Smith recently posted..“That is So Amsterdam” Photo Essay

  3. Mary Anne March 19, 2014 at 3:22 am #

    Miss Lola and I are both guilty. We ate McDonalds when we were in Amsterdam last year. Granted we were out drinking and it was 4am… not much else was open.

  4. Trips By Lance March 19, 2014 at 8:02 pm #

    I have a few thoughts on this (and funny post, by the way): London: twice (same location, seven years apart); Rome: once; Normandy, France: once, although it was my wife and son only as I refused; and a Burger King in a little town in the Norfolk countryside. My wife absolutely despises McDonald’s so we don’t get there too much. Sometimes on road trips we have no choice. Our first time in London was mere minutes after I proposed. I was still in college so McDonald’s was gourmet food to me. We were on our way there when I decided to get that ring out of my pocket. She was starving and I just couldn’t take carrying a diamond in pocket everywhere we went looking for the perfect spot to propose. The one in Rome was awesome. Near the Spanish Steps and marble everywhere. Normandy, it was 4 p.m. and we had not had lunch yet. We thought we ordered a water for our son but instead got some kind of crazy fruit drink. Lost in translation, I guess. Back to that London McDonald’s: the second time we went there, it was the first time I had eaten in days. I got sick the last week of our time in England and I couldn’t stomach anything. But that McDonald’s was awesome. Sometimes you just need the feel of home, even if it is pumped full of chemicals and lots of bad stuff. When I ran track in college we always had breakfast at McDonald’s before meets. Seemed weird to me to eat that crap before running a 5-mile race.
    Trips By Lance recently posted..Hiking Tennessee’s Old Stone Fort State Park

  5. Pola (Jetting Around) March 21, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    Aahhh… I’ve been guilty of trying McD abroad before, but that’s when I was young(er) and stupid. Never freaking again, I boycott that place.
    Pola (Jetting Around) recently posted..Book giveaway: The Same Sky [Ends 3/22/2014]

  6. Leah March 22, 2014 at 5:14 pm #

    This makes me laugh! I just ate at McDonald’s in Salzburg. It was the only thing open near my hotel after an evening of listening to a string quartet in the Mozartarium. Classy, right? I have to say that the McDonald’s in Innsbruck is awesome! It’s in a 15th or 16th century building with original frescoes at the entrance. The first floor looks like a modern McDonald’s, but go upstairs. It’s the only golden arches that I’ve seen with an original wooden beam ceiling and MASSIVE crucifixes in the corners! Seriously, I was looking for the confessional, and I’m not even Catholic!
    Leah recently posted..Travel for Travel’s Sake

  7. Leigh March 23, 2014 at 4:24 am #

    I have not eaten in a McDonalds anywhere since I was in middle school – really. OK I’ve had a coffee when desperate but I really can’t stand the food. Loved it as a kid. And I was a mean parent. I never once took my kids to McDonalds.
    But I love this post and it so makes me chuckle. I’ll cut you some slack Ted and give you the lame excuses.
    Leigh recently posted..Gear Review: The Stash Belt for Hiding Money

  8. Lauren March 24, 2014 at 5:47 am #

    Ted, this was absolutely funny!! But. but. but. Mcdonald’s in every country has something different like chicken drumsticks in China and free wifi and chairs and airconditioning……… okay it was lame. >.<

    Haha, the last one i misread as "I needed to crap, and i needed it now…" Fitting as Mcdonald's can move even the staunchest bowels 😛
    Lauren recently posted..Bright Lights, Big City Macau

  9. MightyTravels March 24, 2014 at 5:44 pm #

    I just wish for a global chain with good healthy food. McDonalds is a great company – just really hate the food…

  10. Jim March 26, 2014 at 8:14 pm #

    I ordered (and ate) a filet-o-fish in the Mexico City airport. I had consumed several Tecates on the flight from Chicago and needed something quick. They say don’t order seafood in a Mexican restaurant, I found out you shouldn’t eat McDonalds in a Mexican airport. I spent the majority of the flight in the spacious air-bathroom and became part of the mile-low club.

  11. Craig Zabransky March 30, 2014 at 1:34 am #

    I love this post, I too have a confession… I take photos of McDonald’s across the globe, but it was after watching SuperSize Me in 2006 that I gave up McDonald’s and essentially all fast food. I’ve made a minor slip on fast food, (tacos in Mexico do not count) but never McDonald’s, not once in 8 years this very month.

    But to add to your confessions, I ordered a number 1 in Shanghai back in 2002 when I needed a break from the city and its strangeness to me, I also returned to snap a photo of the menu, because the number 1, was the Fish Filet. Yes, I am, or rather was a fan of the Fish Filet…

    Stay SuperSized, Craig
    Craig Zabransky recently posted..One of the World’s Largest Carnaval Celebrations – Mazatlan Mexico’s Carnanval in Photos

  12. Hamish Healys April 1, 2014 at 8:21 am #

    I love your blog on Mcdonald’s. It’s funny, familiar and true – there is usually a story behind looking for and munching on a Big Mac when you’re … say in Bangkok, or Belize or Acapulco. More often than not it’s got to do something about starving and it’s the nearest safe, eating spot you can find.
    Hamish Healys recently posted..General FAQ

  13. James Cox April 8, 2014 at 1:48 pm #

    I love Mcdonald’s. You have a nice Travel site with great content. I have
    definitely book marked here. I travel a lot and can very well use your
    blog. Keep up the great work.

  14. Brad Bernard August 3, 2014 at 1:04 pm #

    What a controversial post! Pure blasphemy, right? I spent an entire week at Oktoberfest one year, after nothing but nonstop beer and schnitzel I started having dreams of an 8-foot schnitzel mcNugget with a paper cup of beer chasing me, screaming, “eat me.” I woke everyone up at the campsite screaming, “No more beer.” Not the thing to do at Oktoberfest.

    Seriously, though. Pico Iyer always suggests eating at a McDonalds everywhere he goes. His logic is that you can better see the culture variations when placed next to a standard comparison point. An inspirational travel quote from Pico Iyer:

    “a McDonald’s in Thailand is to me as Thai as one in Santa Barbara is Santa Barbaran — and the world to me is as inexhaustible as it ever was, even if the nature of exoticism has changed”
    Brad Bernard recently posted..Extreme India Challenge Rickshaw Run: Death Summons Us to the Sacred Ganges

  15. Tina August 26, 2014 at 5:13 am #

    McDonalds in the Philippines is one of the best out there.. 🙂

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