Home sweet home! There’s nothing better than home, and the one you share it with. Traveling is so rewarding, especially meeting many nice people along the way, but nothing beats the peacefulness of being home.
There are some things that we as Americans are so accustomed to that I’m glad to have once again. Conversely, there are things we don’t see in the USA. First, a couple things I’m glad to get back to.
– Unlimited glasses of ice water and coffee at restaurants! Yes, we might be spoiled, but it seems so simple here. Over there, it’s nearly impossible to get a glass of tap water with ice. You have to buy these tiny bottles water (with or without gas) and you might get two ice cubes! And let’s talk about the size of those coffee cups in Europe! Come on! I can down one of those in three sips! Give me a mug, and fill er up…….several times! Ok, well maybe I have a coffee addiction, but it could be worse! I am on my 4th mug of coffee at home as I write this and going for my 5th!
– Prices of gasoline, or petrol, as they call it, are outrageous in Europe. I had a rental car and paid nearly 80€ to fill it up. The price was 1.69€ per liter. Converting that to US dollars and gallons, it cost just under $90 for 13 gallons, or about $6.50 per gallon! Who wouldn’t welcome US gas prices? As I drove home, I noticed my regular station had $2.55/gallon posted!
– American air is cleaner! Smoking in common areas is mostly forbidden in the USA, whereas it is permitted in restaurants and about anywhere in Europe. A non- smoking hotel room doesn’t necessarily shield you from the smoker next door, or from fumes coming in your open window from the downstairs restaurant! Since many hotels don’t have air conditioning, you sometimes have to keep your window open! Places that forbid inside smoking often place their cigarette butt disposal containers right outside the door, or even have tables there for smokers, but with the front door open it drifts into the breakfast area, or you have to walk through it when you leave.
Now, here’s a couple things that would be nice to have here in the US.
– Public toilets in Europe are head over heels better than US restrooms. They have gap-free doors to start with. In America, restroom doors and partitions always have gaps between them. Now, if someone wants to watch me pee they are welcome to, but it is very nice to have complete privacy. Also, they all have a toilet brush in each stall, and they are used (evident by the lack of…….well you get the picture if you’ve ever been in an American Walmart restroom). And lastly, European women either don’t sprinkle the seats, or they politely wipe them off for the next person. Believe me…..as someone who has seen a lot of public toilets, I prefer Europe for my toilet needs. (I might even be willing to pay a little more for my petrol for cleaner toilets.)
– I can’t return from Germany without talking about driving the autobahn! Whewwwwww! At 150km/h, (93mph) in the middle lane of the three lane highway, I was passed by cars likely driving in excess of 115mph (185km/hr) easily! You might say I was driving slow, but in the US I would have been ticketed for reckless driving at 93mph! Plus, I was in a small SUV equivalent to a Ford Edge, and that seemed fast enough! Now, if I had been in my former BMW 5 series, it would have been another story! The point I want to make is that everyone knows not to drive in the left lane if you aren’t passing another car. Sure, occasionally faster drivers have to slow down for someone passing a vehicle at a slower speed, but in general, there was harmony on the highway as everyone drove where they were most comfortable based on their speed. Funny, when I drove home from the airport last night, I found myself dreaming I was on the Autobahn and had to slow down a couple of times!
Lastly, thank you to Andreas Kopkau, for your incredible hard work in organizing the Bainbridge Cup and German Open tournaments. Only those who have taken on the challenge of hosting a tournament know how much you have done to make our time in Essen a memorable one. I can’t thank you enough.
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