Eurotrip: 5 Days of People Watching
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Just got back from my first trip to Europe. It was a business trip and thus, I didn’t have a lot of extra time to sight see. The extent of my trip consisted of two days in Amsterdam and three in Germany.
Later in my life I would like to do a lot of long term travel. I want to do it both for the experiences and for the personal growth it will bring. I want each travel experience to make me more eclectic in a practical, non-elitist way.
So with that, let me give an alternating list of how Europe’s methodologies are better than America’s and vice versa.
E1. Europeans bike more within their cities. Talk about a great way to exercise, save money, and reduce your carbon footprint… Nowhere was this more apparent than Amsterdam. Walking along the canals and through the narrow streets I was pleased to see people biking everywhere and bikes chained to every possible tree, rail, and rack.
A1. America’s public restrooms are clean and free, Europe’s are not. My short experience in Amsterdam led me to believe that there are no free public restrooms. The different restrooms I visited there charged me between half a euro and two euros. The two euro restroom was a spectacle; there was one man collecting the money, one woman directing people towards what stall they should use, and another man supervising. Gotta love Keynesianism.
E2. Kids in Europe are taught to ride bikes on no-pedal two-wheelers. I saw several toddlers scurrying around on these: After gaining a little bit of speed, they would lift their legs up and coast. That should be the first step in learning to ride a bike: master the feeling of balancing on two wheels. Somehow in America we adopted tricycles and training wheels in order for our kids to learn speed before balance. Imagine teaching somebody to drive a car by showing them how to floor the gas pedal, then revealing that there is a steering wheel. America is doing it backwards.
A2. It’s hard to find bottled water in Europe (especially Germany). Sparkling mineral water is much more common that still water in Germany. Even visiting a climbing gym near Cologne Germany, I couldn’t get non-carbonated bottled water. Actually I did buy a water, and after working on a couple exhausting climbs I cracked it only to nearly choke on the water as the carbonation burned my throat… Not refreshing. I ended up shaking my bottle until I had lowered the carbonation level to a tolerable level.
E3. Factories in Germany are extremely clean. As opposed to every grimy manufacturing facility I’ve been to in the US, the ones in Germany were spotless. Workers would vacuum, sweep, mop, and wipe down their work areas during every shift. Very refreshing to see. E3.5 : Safety glasses aren’t required by default in most shop floors in Europe.
A3. By design, free wifi is poor quality in Europe. In Bonn I stayed at the Hilton, and the free wifi there was so unreliable and slow that I could barely use imessage on my phone. Of course, if I want an upgrade I could’ve purchased the premium wifi for 25 Euro per night. My room already costed 200 Euro a night… I am unbelievably bitter about my experience at the Hilton in Bonn… All because of the wifi. The cycle of bad quality free wifi, but good quality paid wifi was repeated twice more during my 5 day stay in Europe. My guess is that it’s common everywhere.
E4. There are less obese people in Europe. Talk about the Aryan Race…
A4. Convenience items can be found at every US gas station and pharmacy… Also, gas stations and pharmacies can be found every mile. In Europe it was much more difficult to find simple items like deodorant and headphones.
E5. Europeans aren’t afraid to eat and hang-out outside. Even in 50 Fahrenheit weather, more people were eating outdoors in Amsterdam than indoors. In America, the tables outside Applebees will rarely be filled if it isn’t 70-76 degrees out.
A5. The cost of living is cheaper in America. If your goal is to travel on a budget, Europe will destroy you. Check out Expatistan’s cost of living index & map: http://www.expatistan.com/cost-of-living/index
E6. The metric system.
A6. No smoking indoors. We don’t allow smoking indoors in Michigan, except for Detroit Casinos and cigar bars. Most states in the US have laws banning smoking in restaurants… I didn’t realize how much I appreciated these laws until I picked up second-hand smoking in Amsterdam.
E7. Climbing gyms are much more lead climbing friendly. There were routes equivalent to 5.4 YDS where beginners could lead climb. Quick draws on these beginner routes were bolted every meter. Great stuff.
A7. American stores have more favorable hours for the consumer. In Cologne, everything shut down at 8pm.
Well that’s all I could think of off the top of my head. Feel free to leave a comment if you agree… Not if you disagree though; nobody cares.