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Why vacation in Europe? - from an American point of view

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Jun 25th, 2009, 01:24 PM
  #21
 
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I would travel for the history or for specific aspects of the culture, but beyond that?

I mean, the comments about the food and the beer are kind of silly. Oregon has as much of a beer culture as modern Belgium, for example. And for food, you could head to San Francisco and Napa Valley for a month and eat as well or better than you could in Italy, France, or Spain.

The whole "homogenous" US is a laughable myth as well. I mean, didn't we all have Red State/Blue State ground into our heads during the recent election cycle? Beyond that, there is a night and day difference between Boston and Atlanta. Be it food or culture or the proper respect for college football.

And architecture? How many of those that claim that as a reason have gone to Falling Water? Or spent time on an architectural tour of Chicago? Or seriously considered the Pan Am/Met Life and Seagrams buildings? Architecture has actually progressed in the past 100 years. And much of that progress has happened in the US.

And the list goes on. Folks here complain about malls, but I haven't found much fashion in Europe that is better than Billy Reid, which you can find in the Galleria in Houston. Or food. I don't eat at the Cheesecake Factory, why assume that is all there is? Be it great fried chicken in Chapel Hill, a muffaleta from Central Grocery, or BBQ duck from Goode & Co, I have to question whether those who complain about food in the US have ever actually put any effort into finding good food.

I think that, while some may be timid, there is an equally strong contingent that feels travel to Europe validates them as more sophisticated and cultured. I would be reticent to take much advice from either camp.

None of this is meant to bash Europe. Come, don't come, it is all personal preference. But the reasons being offered as to why you should make the trip are, frankly, pretty weak.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 01:54 PM
  #22
 
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Sorry, travelgourmet, I have traveled all over the US. I do consider our cities (and smaller cities) to be increasingly homogenized. Smaller mom and pop places give way to CVS stores, Starbucks, Moe's (or Chipotle or Baja Fresh or whatever), and the list continues. It's not that you can't find uniquely great places in large US cities (because you can), it's just that you're a lot less likely to stumble upon them without doing some digging. It's merely my experience and my opinion. You have yours, I have mine. Have a great day.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 01:57 PM
  #23
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travelgourmet - I respectfully disagree with almost every word in your post above. While I won't attempt a tedious line-by-line rejoinder, as an example, in reference to your points on architecture - I happen to find structures like Notre Dame, the Pantheon, and Canterbury Cathedral much more fascinating than any modern structure you could name. Maybe it's not just the buildings themselves, but the palpable sense of history that permeates these places. Of course, that's just my opinion, and everyone is entitled to their own.

I love living in the Good Ole USA, but I want something completely different in my vacation time, and Europe fills the bill.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 02:18 PM
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Wine's better
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Jun 25th, 2009, 02:20 PM
  #25
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suze - I think you're having some fun with us here.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 02:24 PM
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Castles.

And I think the notion that the US is homogenized due to chain businesses is laughable. As if you don't find McDonald's in every major area of every major city in Europe! Welcome to Piazza di Spagna, would you like fries with that?

In Britain, Boots is omnipresent; ditto W.H. Smith, M&S Simply Food and various other chain stores. But I would never say that England, Scotland and Wales are homogenous. I'm pretty sure the Scots and Welsh would be less than pleased with that notion too.

And the overarching notion that "food is better" in Europe is just too foolish for words. Go eat a Bulgarian, Moldavian or Belarussian diet and tell Americans how much better the food is across the pond.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 02:38 PM
  #27
 
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alw1977 - Do you actually spend much time in Europe? I don't mean this as an insult, but a serious question. Europe is as increasingly homogenized as anywhere in the US. I go into a store in Zurich and it is exactly the same brands that I see in Copenhagen or London. Sure, it may be Brax, rather than Dockers, but who cares? It is still homogenization. When in France, I often end up in Monoprix or Carrefour or some other chain. Just because you are familiar with Wal-Mart doesn't mean that it is fundamentally different from Carrefour. Indeed, they are competitors in many markets.

And, FWIW, I encounter many, many Europeans that love Starbucks.

phillyboy - Did I not say that one should travel to Europe if they are interested in the history? What I object to is the inference that one enjoys architecture, writ large, and that they can enjoy architecture more in Europe than in the US. This simply isn't true. Sure, medieval architecture buffs should be happier in Europe, but if you enjoy architecture broadly, then you wouldn't shortchange the significant architectural landmarks that are on offer in the US. If people meant that they enjoy medieval architecture, then they should say so. Just saying that one goes to Europe for the architecture smacks of pretense.

Suze - Seriously?
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Jun 25th, 2009, 02:42 PM
  #28
 
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I'm always suspicious that anyone who insists that all of the food is better in Europe is eating very oddly at home in the U.S. That said, of course French food is better in France and Italian food is better in Italy, just as American food is better in the U.S. (as anyone who has ever eaten in an "American-style" restaurant abroad can attest).
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Jun 25th, 2009, 02:47 PM
  #29
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Hey pb,

>...French are arrogant, rude, and frivolous; Poles are unintelligent; British have bad teeth and a superiority complex; Germans are humorless, beer-drinking megalomaniacs; Italians are loud, uncouth gangsters,....< They aren't?
.................................................. ..
Hey tg,
>The whole "homogenous" US is a laughable myth as well.<

A few years ago, my Lady Wife and I drove from Annapolis, MD to Tucson AZ. This is about the distance from Lisbon to Moscow. Most of the trip was on highways.

The language did not change.
The road signs did not change.
The shopping centers did not change.
The motels did not change.

The only way to tell which state you were in was to look at license plates.

>....there is a night and day difference between Boston and Atlanta. Be it food or culture or the proper respect for college football.<

Yes, A is different from B, but not to the extent that Marseille is different from Frankfurt (about the same distance).

Compared to Europe, the US is very homogeneous.
Ditto: South and Central America, most of Asia, Africa, the Middle East.
.................................................. ................
Even with airfare, we can visit the major (and minor) cities of Europe for about the same price as visiting similar places in the US - and the food and wine is better.

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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:10 PM
  #30
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tg

>If people meant that they enjoy medieval architecture, then they should say so. Just saying that one goes to Europe for the architecture smacks of pretense.< ... now be honest, aren't you really splitting hairs here? Because I said I enjoy the architecture, and didn't qualify it with the adjective of your choice, that makes me pretentious?


HMMMM - I can feel the tone getting a little testy on this thread.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:12 PM
  #31
 
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travelgourmet - are you kidding? One visit to a great vegetable, fruit, fish market, such as the one in Venice convinces me that the food in Europe is better. The strawberries! Never seen anything like them here, not even at the Ferry Building market in SF. The lettuce! The salad I had last week at the autogrill was far superior to any salad I had in the US almost ever. The fish, the vegetables like jewels! No farmer's market I have seen in the US can compare. Anyway, I am sure you disagree but I go to Europe for the food (among other things)! I'm just sayin.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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Yes, A is different from B, but not to the extent that Marseille is different from Frankfurt (about the same distance).

The biggest difference between them is that one is a boring, uninspiring banking center (i.e. Charlotte) and the other is a depressed, seen-better-days port city (i.e. Baltimore). Seriously.

Just this year, I moved from Denmark to Switzerland. The road signs did not change (they are largely standardized). The motels did not change. The Globus in Zurich is indistinguishable from the Magasin in Copenhagen. So, we are left with just language. If that is all the variety one needs, then rent a foreign language film or two. Though the most popular movies are American movies, so you may just have to settle for buying a German version of Terminator: Salvation.

And, Ira, what is with the food and wine garbage? I thought you were smarter than that. Seriously. Anyone that claims this doesn't actually take their food or wine seriously. Google "Judgement of Paris". There is a lot of astounding wine being made in the US (and in Europe). That you don't bother to buy the good stuff doesn't mean it isn't there. Ditto for food. Aren't you from Georgia? Do you honestly believe that Low Country cuisine is not deserving of the same respect accorded any other regional cuisine? A truly top-notch Shrimp and Grits is a revelation.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:20 PM
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I had a really great geography teacher in high school. He inspired me to dream of one day traveling to England. That was my main focus -- traveling to England. I fell in love with the romantic idea of royalty and castles.

So in 1977, two years after DH and I got married, we made our first trip to Europe. We visited London, Paris and Amsterdam. I was hooked!

While we might have a building in my city that's 70-80 yrs old and hasn't been torn down for a mall or high rise, they actually have buildings still in use that are 700 yrs old or more.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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rbnwdln - I used to live down the street from Julia Child's former butcher. The quality of beef and produce I got there rivals anything I have found in Europe. Don't get me wrong, I love going to markets and the like. I spend obscene amounts of money getting the best ingredients. But I don't find it any harder to find those ingredients in the US than in Europe.

And let's be clear what we mean by "Europe". We mean much of France, parts of Italy, maybe a bit of Spain. This is like saying that, because California has great produce, that Ohio does too - though this is probably more true than assuming that Denmark has great produce readily available (it doesn't) simply because you can find it in Paris. And much of Europe is a culinary wasteland, while places like Louisiana, the Low Country, and San Francisco/environs are world-class culinary destinations.

Again, this isn't meant as a slight toward Europe, just a counterpoint and reminder that one can find great architecture, theater, opera, food, wine, beer, public transit, natural beauty, fashion, art, etc. in the US. One should weigh what they truly want out of a destination and then choose the destination that meets those needs. Europe is no more a one-size-fits-all destination than the US.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:44 PM
  #35
 
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I come to Europe every year because I always have a different experience.
Some experiences are good, some are not so good.
I like the museums, architecture, history, food, and languages.
I visit my old friends and their families.


But I wouldn't say that Europe is better or worse than the US. Many of my friends in the US ask me, "Europe AGAIN? You just went like, 8 months ago." They don't understand why I keep returning and staying for longer periods of time each visit.


I think one can't really compare any European country with the US.
It's just different. It's a different way of life and a different mentality.
For me, traveling to Europe every year keeps me open-minded and this awareness helps me grow personally and professionally.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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Conversation ender;"Didn't you go there last year?"

Yes, and I slept with my wife last night - should I switch that up too? (Don't answer that you bad bad people
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:50 PM
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Conversation ender; "Didn't you go there last year?"

Yes, and I slept with my wife last night - should I switch that up too? (Don't answer that you bad bad people
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:52 PM
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Oh, and I think travelgourmet is right about the issue of food. I'm living in the Czech Republic right now and I think the food really can't compare to France or Belgium. I've tried to eat local cuisine but I personally think the quality is a bit poor. I find myself having to buy imported things like muesli from Germany, cheese from France, ham from Austria, and pasta from Italy. But, I do buy Czech beer.
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Jun 25th, 2009, 03:53 PM
  #39
 
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I just love it and I agree with Bob the Nav(hi Bob), and if possible would go 4 times a year! In fact, if I won the Lotto, I would buy a flat in London, and travel through Europe,,,AS MUCH AS I WANT! Ha, how's that! ;-).
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Jun 25th, 2009, 04:09 PM
  #40
 
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Because it is so pleasing to the eye and I can speak in (foreign) tongues.
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