Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Ten Things I've Learned by Traveling Europe

This is a blog which has been on my mind for a couple of years.  Traveling is an educational experience.  You sit and pause by a cafe....sipping strong espresso....watching Dutch people cycle over a bridge.  You sit on a bench in Berlin and note radical choices of clothing.  You ponder upon the rules of subway riding in Rome.

1.  There are a thousand ways of serving some cake or dessert in Europe, which relate to less sugar, but better taste.  Dunkin Donuts would not survive to any safe margin in Europe.

2.  High speed driving is acceptable, and deadly.  You can open any newspaper in Germany and note some crash of a guy going 120 mph when impact occurred.  For some reason, there just isn't any cause to control things and limit speeds.

3.  Art means something, to some folks.  You can't go around any city of 50,000 people in any country....without noticing a dozen-odd statues.  Some are historic.  Some are artsy.  Some are just a round piece of granite with no meaning at all.  Art sells, for some odd reason.

4.  For some reason, you just don't see much food poisoning in most European countries.  More inspections?  More rigid conditions?  More professional standards?  I simply don't know.

5.  No matter where you go....a discussion could erupt in a pub or cafe....over wine, beer, or distilled spirits.  There could be a thousand different expressions used to note taste, flavor or texture.  Everyone.....even the village drunk....has an opinion.

6.  Educational status in Europe means an awful lot....even more than what some American guy would get by six years and a master's degree from Ball State.  Doc-so-V-so, with his doctorate degree in textiles, is always respected in his neighborhood and town.

7.  Politics....generally runs along the same lines as in the US....except folks are most hospitable about the comments and accusations.  You can only be half-as-bad in Germany.....as you might be in Bama.  Folks tend to wake up the day after an election....then forget everything....going back to some norm mode (like we used to do in the 1970s).

8.  A four-hour train ride in Europe brings everything up close.  You come to appreciate rolling hillsides, old churches in the distance, and crossing rivers in the midst of a forest.  It's a trance-like experience.  You'd like to ride for weeks across Europe.

9.  Some guys in Europe spend an awful lot of time thinking about things.  Then they go to building structures, bridges, roads, buildings and infrastructure....that goes way beyond anything that a US designer would come up with.  Cooks go developing beyond your imagination.  Brewers make a beer beyond your expectations.  A bridge in France....just isn't a plain old bridge.  A piece of cheesecake in Mainz....just isn't a plain piece of cheesecake.  A shot of some Italian cherry brandy....just isn't a plain shot of brandy.

10.  After a while, an American traveling around Europe....has this funny feeling that as marvelous as he sees everything....the locals are just missing it.  A thousand great sights within an hour's drive, and most of the locals might admit they've seen forty or fifty of the sights by age forty.  Sadly, we Americans on the run.....might have a better view....than locals of age sixty, who've been there for an entire generation.  In a way, that's kinda sad.

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