This is a repost from 2009. Having travelled Europe extensively in 2018 and 2019, my opinion is unchanged.
Too much second hand smoke, too few toilets.
I should live in Europe.
The trains are fantastic. There are dedicated bike trails everywhere. It’s easy to live without a car.
But I can’t live in Europe.
- It’s OLD
- It’s EXPENSIVE
- Banker’s Hours
- People aren’t friendly
=== It’s OLD
No need to visit the potentially gorgeous Sagrada Família in Barcelona. There are no plans to remove the scaffolding until at least 2026.
I’m not sure how they ever made postcards of the great monuments of Europe. Photoshop?
Most are under construction. Constantly.
=== It’s EXPENSIVE
A sample of prices from December 2007:
Gallon of unleaded gas: $8.08
Gallon of bio diesel: $6.06
Wireless Internet: $6 for 30 minutes, $32 for 24 hours
Vienna public transport, 24-hours: $8.40
Berlin public transport, 24-hours: $8.97
Seat reservation, Brussels-Frankfurt train: $4.41
Overnight parking, Hotel Helvetia, Lindau, Germany: $14.40
Leopold Museum, Vienna: $10.30
I recently heard that a basic hotel room in urban Finland costs US$400 / night.
There are very few pressures to bring prices down in Western and Northern European countries. You need a HUGE salary to afford to live there.
=== Banker’s Hours
Recall when the only reason we hated bankers was that they worked only 10:15AM-11:45AM. And 2:15AM- 3:45PM ??
Most businesses in Southern Europe still close in the middle of the day. Many are required to close by government legislation.
Shop keeps sometimes seem disappointed if you find their store open.
I’m surpised any commerce happens at all.
The tradition of siesta may have worked well in the small village decades past (when wives were stay at home chattel) but it’s bloody inconvenient in 2009. Especially for a tourist.
In the Dolomites of Northern Italy they have incredibly helpful tourist information kiosks. But they close from Noon Saturday until Monday morning. … The majority of tourists arrive by train from big cities further south, about Noon on Saturday.
In Andorra la Vella, the only city in the country of Andorra, none of the internet cafes were open on a Saturday morning. Not even 24 Hour Internet. (I did them the service of removing their “OPEN” sign. But my Swiss Army knife did not have the power tools required to remove the 24 Hour Internet sign.)
=== People aren’t friendly
Picture an arrogant, rude European.
That’s my preconception.
But when I finally found, in the summer of 2009, an arrogant French bus driver, I couldn’t stop laughing.
As he chastised me, the ignorant, smelly American tourist, I couldn’t help chuckling at his stereotype manner and accent. He seemed to me a Hollywood comic actor spoofing the role with a phoney accent.
Ever since I saw the wonderful 1967 Sidney Portier film, To Sir, with Love, I’ve had another bias … A disgust with the British class system.
Even today I picture a subculture of profane skin head soccer louts. And uncouth, unwed teen mothers. Spending their meager dole at the pub rather than at the dentist.
I did see them in Scottish pubs. But sucking fags outside the door of the pub. Smoking in restaurants and bars was banned in the United Kingdom July 2007. Thank God.
Infants and children are allowed in pubs, however. Drunks care for them while Mom and/or Dad step out for another smoke.
… To be fair, I was very surprised how friendly the Scots were to me, another dumb tourist. Far more friendly than any of the other 5 Western European countries I visited.
The single biggest reason I could not live in Europe.
They are shameless. Unrepentant. Totally oblivious to others.
The phrase “second hand smoke” has never yet been translated into Italian.
They smoke indoors and out. I could not enter any cafe or restaurant. In fact, a guy lit up in the airport restaurant in Bilbao, Spain. There were no signs saying he couldn’t.
Worst of all, it was clear to me that smoking is still cool, in Europe.
I can’t live in Europe.