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May 10, 2007

Europe: Continent of Excellent Coffee, Cheeses, and Electrical Plugs

So simple, shiny, and futuristic looking

I never thought I would say this, but I now know what it feels like to be George W. Bush, seeing as I seem to have annoyed, appalled, and enraged half of Europe with a couple of recent postings. In my defense, I will say only that I only ever report what I see and feel.

(And while I'm at it, I will also say that on the nudity front: I'm not a prude -- I skinny dip with considerable regularity on weekends up north in the summer time. I do, however, tend to associate nakedness with free-spiritedness and jollity. So to enter a sauna full of stone-faced naked people who wouldn't acknowledge the presence of a newcomer even with body language struck me as odd. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it -- but I can't pretend I wasn't shocked by it, and the overall experience was, to me, interesting.

As far as Eurotrash go: I truly do not think conspicuous consumption in Monaco has anything to with America's (or my homeland, Canada's) irresponsible emission of greenhouse gases. Justindr660, I might also point out -- as I did in my post -- that there were three Ferraris parked in front of the club called Zebra Square. The slowest among them had 482 horsepower. Not very Kyoto.)

So in the spirit of good relations, allow me to dish out a few deserved compliments to the continent of Europe.

1) I like your plugs. The whole round prong thing is very Star Trek. Nice work.

2) Your ugly suburbs are nicer than our ugly suburbs. I applaud your ability to clad a house in stucco without resorting to fake corner stones and Renaissance window treatments.

3) You all accept and respect that the left lane is to be kept clear for passing on the highway. So refreshing. Bravo.


A car in the left lane passing a slower-moving vehicle on the right? Well done, European driver.

4) The coffee is fantastic. Absolutely fantastic.

5) The dinner portions are just the right size.

6) There's more nudity on TV and in print ads.

7) The coffee is superb.

7) So is the food.

8) You do not have donut shops. Instead, you have pastry shops.

9) You don't have Fox News, or anything like Fox News.

10) You allow people to make cheese out of unpasteurized milk and age it for less than 60 days.

11) These cheeses can be bought at gas stations.


Cheeses and wines of Burgundy in a gas-station refrigerator: magnifique

12) You give cyclists a wide berth when passing them on country roads.

13) Such good coffee.

14) You drink at lunch.

15) The cell phone coverage here is the bomb. My Treo works in tunnels and it works on farmer's fields. I think Europe must be an ancient Sanskrit word meaning "land of incredible cell phone coverage." When I climb a mountain, I have four bars of reception all the way up. I can even check my e-mail from the summit. But I don't, because that just wouldn't be very European.


To paraphrase my hero Mark Twain, a town with no TV reception at all would have excellent television through the absence of Fox News alone.

Or, as I prefer to call it, "Faux" News.

Excellent point about the coffee.

and the nudity...

Wonder what they say about "Ameritrash"? :)

LOL - Cathy2, I think we're ALL "Ameriatrash"...Mark, kudos for sticking to your guns. I was genuinely surprised to see people getting huffy about your personal and honest impressions about different cultures. The entire reason why they're reading your adventures (I hope) is to appreciate.

Ahh, you Canadians.. so willing to get along with everyone. That does bring up an interesting question though, do the people you meet expect you to adopt their customs or do they honor yours?

Seems the only good thing they are missing is Fox News. "Fair and balanced" Wish I could say the same about MSNBC. You do, however, have a better web site!

another great post. Mark, you simply have to give us some hints on the remainder of your path.

Keep up the good work, Mark! You always make my day! I've been telling all my officemates about your blog! What a refreshing way to keep us informed of what's going on in the other parts of the world!

Dear Mark, you know I am living vicariously through you....I love your blogs. You make us very proud.

You are a travel writer. Actually a pretty good one. Your articles provide a light-hearted confection about nothing important, but are well written and informative. Then you have to politicize it with your comment "9) You don't have Fox News, or anything like Fox News."
Do you think we care about your politics? Or are you reassuring your socialist friends that your heart is in the right (actually the left) place? Leave the politics to the political writers. Its way over your pay grade.

AlanM1, dissing Fox News doesn't have as much to do with politics as it does with good taste.

I'm so glad so many people had to comment about the "Fox News" blurb. People on the right who only get news from Fox and people on the left who only watch CNN or MSNBC for their news are so close minded. How about being open minded and get your news from more than one source and make up your own mind what to believe. I suppose that would be too difficult for most to do. Middle of the road folks are more informed and more tolerant of others ideas. Oh, BTW, I really enjoy those travel blogs!

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