Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Grass Isn't Always Greener....

Traveling in Europe makes me miss the little things I take for granted in the States:

1. We get water free of charge at restaurants.
2. Our airport bathrooms are free. You don't need to pay €1 to use them.
3. No language barrier. DOH!
4. No one stares at Asians on either coasts (although it would be a different story in, say, Kansas). Here in the tiny town of Taffalla, Spain, I suspect I'm the first Asian many of the locals have ever seen, judging from the gawks.
5. Air conditioners - and yes, we USE them. : )

On the flip side, Europe boasts many enviable traits:
1. Many Europeans speak multiple languages. So far, based on my experience (disclaimer: sample size of ONE), Belgians speak the most English, then the Dutch, the Italians, and the Germans. The French are actually not as snooty as their reputation suggests - and yes, they understand you almost perfectly. Spain seems to be the most helpless, even in Madrid, which I found surprising. Let's just say I would hesitate to venture back here again without learning some serious Spanish first.
2. Generally speaking, their public transit systems are really convenient. Amsterdam tops the list in that department. Love their trams!
3. Their trains! Enough said. Japanese bullet trains are still the best, though, bar none.
4. Their life style promotes walking.
5. Businesses stay open late.

Everything said and done, I'm partial to San Francisco, New York, and Sydney.... And now perhaps adding Amsterdam to the list. Brussels and Frankfurt fall into the BORING bucket. Venice has the most vibrant colors, hands down. Rome? Charming, sure, but also polluted and dirty. Berlin - clean, minimalist, and efficient. Madrid? Nah, not expecting a repeat visit anytime soon. And forget Taffalla, I just don't find small towns appealing. I'm glad I came here for my frienda' wedding.... But I'm also eager to see it in my rearview mirror - hint, hint.

That leaves....Paris. The only European city I've visited multiple times. How could anyone resist the Louvre? Or the outdoor cafes? Or the soft sounds of French? I know, not original reasons at all, but they are good reasons nonetheless. : )

Now I need to go buy a train ticket to Paris, leaving tomorrow night. Fingers crossed it's not sold out! I really couldn't sustain another night in Taffalla.... Wish me luck!


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1 comment:

Mrs. Shanton said...

That is SO interesting! I love your observations. I'm a city girl myself. I much prefer civilization over nature. I'll always love SF (THE City) and I enjoyed my single trip to Manhattan three years ago. Loved NYC, actually. I love to walk and have things to see wherever I go.