Things I Admire in Europe

May 11th, 2001, 04:51 PM
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Things I Admire in Europe

Travelling in Europe is such a joy. There is history, natural beauty, castles, ancient towns and villages, wonderful people. Yes all of that. I’ve only been in Europe 3 times, but here are a few of the more mundane things that impress me, and even make me a little jealous.

Trains. They go every where, frequently, reliably, cheaply, and on time. Buses and trams are great, and the drivers are very friendly (well, mostly). Being used to US tram drivers; I was chastised by an Amsterdam tram driver for not saying good morning when I boarded her tram. Shame on me! And good for her.

Bicycles. A real commitment, in Amsterdam they have the outright right of way, and seem to outnumber cars. On major streets, they have their own lane and even their own traffic lights. Example: along the Moselle River Valley, a wide bike and hike trail follows the road along, sometimes weaving through farms, orchards, and vineyards. (In USA, we’d be tied up in litigation for such a trail idea.)
(Perhaps the above two items have something to do with $5 per gallon gas.)

Driving in the 5 or 6 countries that I have (not England) I have found the international road signage system to be extremely user friendly. The Netherlands has the most user friendly highway system, IMHO. Along the AutoRoutes, Auto Strata, Auto Bahn, whatever they are called, there is a very organized and reliable system of locating service stations/mini markets, which in many cases, (like Italy) include a variety of restaurant types. They seem to be universally clean and friendly.

Rest Rooms, WC, Toiletten, Banos. Hats off. In most public places and restaurants, rest rooms are kept very clean, sometimes by an attendant, who expects a few coins in a little dish. Gladly. The self-contained automatic cleaning ones ion Paris streets are great. In a little town in Belgium, my wife found a classic. When you flush, this little gizmo comes out of the tank, and locks down on the seat. The seat then proceeds to turn 360 degrees through the little gizmo, which cleans the seat with a rapid dry, sterilizing liquid, then the gizmo retracts back into the tank. Try to find a clean rest room the next time you’re out and about in the good ole USofA. (Yep, there’s always McDonalds).

Parking. On a street in a city, if you can find a place, you go to a machine located mid block. You stick in some coins, and out comes a little ticket that expires at a time certain, that you put on your dash. No meters, less maintenance, etc. At Parking lots, you get a little ticket from the machine when you enter. You take the ticket with you, don’t leave it in the car. When you are ready to leave, you find the pay station, and insert your ticket. It tells you how much to deposit, you put in your coins (some even let you pay with credit/debit cards) then it gives you back your ticket. You have about 10 minutes to get out of the parking lot, and when you exit, you put the ticket in the slot, the gate goes up, and off you go.

Just a few things I like about Europe. Thanks!
May 11th, 2001, 07:58 PM
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Things I admire about Europe...the LACK of hordes of gas-guzzling, road-hogging SUVs all over the place.
May 12th, 2001, 01:38 AM
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Bill, you name very tangible, quantifiable items. I like the way Europeans don't have the hang-ups that most Americans do. Live life to the fullest and enjoy!

I once met a scientist who left the USA because, as she put it, we're all about money. There was constant pressure to crank out solutions FASTER, make more money for the company, etc. In Paris, she probably wasn't getting paid better, but she enjoyed it because once the pressure was off, she could take the time to think things through and come up with the BEST solutions, not just the fastest.
May 12th, 2001, 06:12 AM
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The bread and the coffee. I leave in a week and I think I'm looking forward to that almost more than anything. Every european country I've visited has had better bread and coffee (even at some little rinky-dink place) than almost anywhere in the US. That, and the orange juice in Spain. Oh, I wish I had a glass now!
May 12th, 2001, 11:56 AM
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The ability to enjoy life for its own sake (for example, work to live, not work to live and taking time to enjoy). Also, the respect for history--Europeans don't tear down a building just because it is 75 years old!
May 12th, 2001, 01:44 PM
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I have to credit the quiet in French restaurants (if only they didn't smoke!). In the SF Bay Area, many of our restaurants are so noisy one has to shout to one's companions to be heard. Awful!
We liked the lack of age discrimination we witnessed in England. It wasn't uncommon to see people together of mixed ages.
Of course, the efficiency of the Paris metro & London tube should be mentioned. Again, in the San Francisco area, we have horrible traffic & not really efficient transportation (taking BART can mean transferring to buses, etc. & can be quite time consuming) And, yes, the SUV's are an environmental blight (besides blocking one's vision & having headlights positioned to shine directly into one's rear view mirror, which is very irritating).
However, contrary to a prior poster, we've had better luck with public bathrooms in the U.S. (& certainly more accessible).

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