why I can’t live in Europe

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
  • Smokers

=== 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.

308565295_452c4ee086_b

I’m not sure how they ever made postcards of the great monuments of Europe. Photoshop?

Most are under construction. Constantly.

=== It’s EXPENSIVE

broke-guyA 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

see more

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.

sorry-we-are-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.

disdainful

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.

=== Smokers

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.

smoker-cafe

I can’t live in Europe.

It’s uncivilized.

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too much SMOKING in Europe

One thing North America has done right is to reduce smoking.

I hate visiting Europe for this one reason.

Eduard Benko. Romania, 2009

According to the World Health Organization, 21.9 percent of Americans smoked tobacco in 2018. In comparison, the average smoking rate for Europe was 28.7 percent.

When you look at the approximate number of cigarettes smoked per person per year, the picture is even more striking. Out of the 20 countries that smoke the most cigarettes, 15 of them are entirely or partially in Europe. The United States is 68th on the list. …

From U.S. surgeon general warnings to campaigns by groups like the American Cancer Society, the messaging has been clear since the 1960s: smoking cigarettes is bad for you. And it’s worked. About 96 percent of Americans believe smoking cigarettes is at least somewhat harmful to your health. …

Why Do So Many People Smoke Cigarettes In Europe?

Obviously the EU has to educate, educate, educate … and legislate.

Here’s my nearest grocery store in Stuttgart. Nothing but nicotine products while waiting in line to check out.

I HATE loyalty programs

In fact, I’m loyal to companies that don’t have loyalty programs.

What a waste of time. 😕

“If you have a rewards card, please swipe it now.”

“You’re not a member. Would you like to be?”

“The loyalty club comes with bonus points, an upgrade, vouchers and a free coffee. After you buy 10.”

“You don’t want to join? You should join. It only takes a moment. You’re still not interested? Why not? (What’s wrong with you?)”

Let’s ban all loyalty programs

click for larger version

Sadly … I caved. I am now carrying a Tim Horton’s loyalty card. 😕

Tunnel Bear VPN

TunnelBear by software security software giant McAfee is one of the best FREE Virtual Private Networks.

Like many others it has both free and paid versions.

I got a free month of the paid version last October because I needed it while traveling internationally.

Cancelled before the deadline. … And months later found they were still billing me though I hadn’t used the service.

After complaining online to Tunnel Bear customer support they did refund those payments. Good customer service.

I found it very confusing to cancel, by the way.

When you cancel any paid service online be sure to check you got the confirmation email.

 

when Amazon sucks …

I love Amazon. Their model is the future of retail.

And Amazon almost always works. It’s amazing.

But when I recently bought a hiking guidebook it wouldn’t download to my Kindle Paperwhite. Weird.

Quite quickly Amazon responded. Confirming that they suck. ☹️

I washed out as a Drone pilot

After many, many hours trying to get my DJI Spark to work, I finally gave it to a friend.

It was too complicated. Too frustrating. 😩

The short battery life is another turnoff for me.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. … I never once got it to work.

If you are willing to give it a try, check the Amazon Prime sale July 16th.

DJI lowers prices on Spark and Mavic Pro drones during Amazon Prime Day

hassles booking a flight in Canada

I wanted to fly to Toronto on a Thursday for the Canadian National Gymnastics Championships.

Only WestJet and Air Canada fly direct.

WestJet pilots are threatening strike.

Air Canada costs millions of dollars on Thursday. Inexpensive on Saturday.

I tried dread Aeroplan. No flights available Thursday or Friday. Only Saturday.

So … I’ll fly on the Saturday on Aeroplan points for FREE. No, not free. I still pay over a third of the ticket costs because TAXES. I hate loyalty programs, including air points.