They don't use ice in Russia - but they do in Lithuania!

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Last June I packed up my things to travel to Russia and Eastern Europe for a few months. It was Memorial Day weekend and I was in a rush to pick up American-themed gifts for friends I would meet during my travels and future hosts and hostesses.

I stopped at the liquor store to pick up some drinks for a party and found an ice cube tray shaped like the U.S.A. I thought it would be perfect to bring as a gift. It's fun, versatile, connected to the U.S.A., easy to pack, and can be gifted to a wide audience. I bought it without hesitation.

I arrive to Petrozavodsk, Russia two weeks later. I meet my host family and thought they'd love the gift. It turns out that ice is not really a Russian thing--at least in my host family. They filter or boil the water first so ice cubes are just another step. Plus, they tell me, drinking cold water is pretty American.

I lug the ice cube tray from Petrozavodsk to St. Petersburg to Moscow, and then to Tallinn, Estonia and to Viljandi, Estonia and to Riga, Latvia, in hopes that one day I'll find the perfect recipient.

I met up with a close friend from the states and we hitch-hiked from Riga, Latvia to Vilnius, Lithuania. I offered the ice cube tray to our dear driver as a thank you gift and he gladly accepted it. It turns out that he does use ice cubes!

Next time I travel and select gifts for future friends and hostesses, I'll think a bit more about what they actually use in their culture. Glad I found a recipient though!
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