Saturday, July 5, 2014
Top 10 Musings from our Family Trip to Europe
I thought I would take some time and jot down a few observations we made during our 2 week trip in Europe (England, France, Germany, Denmark). I can't help but think of John Travolta's line in Pulp Fiction when describing his time over the pond to Samuel L. Jackson...."it's the little things". I will also write a blog on what it's like to travel through Europe as a visually impaired fellow but that will come later.
1. All of the French Fries we had in all four countries were ALL better than anything we had in the states.
2. All of the prices in Denmark are whole numbers. You feel rich when dealing with Denmark currency because 100 Krone's = 1 dollar. Nothing is 25.90.
3. Normally people walk on sidewalks the way they drive. If you drive on the right, you walk on the right. I thought people would walk on the left in London but I was wrong. They walk on the right, left and right down the middle.
4. Apparently there is no code that requires a drinking fountain to be located near bathrooms in public spaces. I couldn't find one. ever.
5. I have a very special place in my heart for Paris. The architecture, the people and the language itself create this warm, elegant and romantic vibe. But my memory of Paris (in the summer) will always conjure a dual reaction. One of love and mild gagging. I have read that smell is the #1 memory activator and I believe that to be true. Paris in the summer generally smells like PISS. Serious PISS. PISS everywhere. The smell of piss was so strong at Sacre Coeur (one of the highest spots in the city) that it was all I could do to not puke. Wafting Piss smell all over the city. People pissing all over the city. People pissing in the subways. People pissing on buildings. People pissing in the bushes. It was remarkable.
6. I was not aware of this accepted way of doing business but apparently you have to ask for your check in Europe. We never had our check brought to us, even after a huge dinner, multiple drinks and dessert. It wasn't a big deal but it made no sense to me. Maybe people just keep drinking and eating all night in Europe.
7. Drinking of alcohol everywhere. I mean everywhere. I learned that it was not legal to drink with an open container in the countries we visited but it was not enforced. People drank walking down the street. They drank on the trains and buses. They drank while they waited for trains. These were professionals, young and old, male and female. didn't matter. It was pretty cool. : )
8. I'm not sure what the policy is at sporting events but I was blown away at what happened at the Pearl Jam show. All of the vendors were still serving food and beer near the end of the 3 hour concert. In fact it looked like all of the vendors had no intention of closing down anytime soon after the show. The venue was still fairly packed after the concert with the beer flowing. It was bizarre. Loud, drunk people whooping it up everywhere as we made our way to the train. Maybe it's fine because hardly anyone drives but you would never see that in America.
9. Europe has adopted the same No Smoking Policy as the US has with one major exception. If you are outside in a public space (restaurant, train station platform, or concert) all bets are off. It was insane. Cigarette smoke attacking your face while you are eating dinner can be a real turn off. It felt like there were more smokers in Europe but it may have just been smokers were allowed to smoke around us in more areas. The Pearl Jam show was the pinnacle of smoke. I felt like I was surrounded by chain smokers for the entire show. We had great seats and I was extremely close to moving to terrible seats (no one was sitting there) just so I could get a break from the smoke. It literally felt like someone was constantly blowing smoke directly up my nostrils. I don't remember being in an outside venue and having all of my clothing smell like an ashtray afterwards. It was really awful. My beautiful wife (who has asthma) insisted we muscle through it and not let it ruin the Pearl Jam show. She was right and we did.
10. The energy consciousness of Europe was so enjoyable. It's just a way of life there. You ride the bus or train. You ride a bike. You walk. Occupancy Sensors everywhere. The lights in hallways turn off if no one is there. The escalator turns off when no one is using it. The lights in your hotel room will not turn on until you put your room key in a slot near the door. All of the toilets are dual flush (a button for #1 and #2). Windmills everywhere. Solar Panels on rooftops. Heck, our Ferry was a hybrid ferry (diesel and electric). No air conditioning in the rooms (this could be painful during a heatwave). Smart cars were like mosquito's. Carbon Neutral advertising could be found on packaging and buses. What Europe proves is that you can reduce your ecological footprint and still have a high quality of life.