From driving to eating to a culture of abundance, here I explore some of the differences between USA and Europe.
This is a fun monologue about some of the differences that I find interesting, especially eating in America vs eating in Europe!
I hope you enjoy :)
Hello. Hello and welcome back to no fairy tale travels this week. I'm going to talk to you about some of the interesting differences between Europe and America. And of course, it's, from my perspective, I'm born and raised in America and I've spent the large part, well, most of the last nine years living in Europe. And it's kind of interesting if I spend enough time in one region and then go back to the other region, the things that I notice and what overwhelms me or disappoints me. And I think it's our differences as you, if you watch the previous episodes, you'll know, I think our differences make us interesting. You don't just want to be plain vanilla German house. If everyone was just a beige and all experiences were the same life would be rather boring. So here, I'm going to touch on some of those differences and I'm going to focus on, I think I'm going to start with shopping, driving, and drinking and a couple other things, and we'll see where we go from there. And if you have any questions or comments, go to no fairytale, travels dot sub stack.com and leave a comment there this week. Let's see I'm going to have some wine for this one, actually wine or rum
Mm rum tomorrow,
Because I'm in a really good mood before we get to the topic of this episode. I just want to say I got the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine and I'm very, very happy. Cheers to me. And we are drinking Ripa, Rosso. I don't know Illuminati. I don't know my Italian friend. She swears by this wine. So I got one and even put it in a nice glass so that she doesn't yell at me. And, uh, that's what I'm going to be drinking today. Now it's the reason I'm celebrating, getting the vaccine, by the way, if you're not a long-term traveler, you may not know that they aren't giving vaccines to people who aren't citizens in pretty much any country. I'm very happy that I got the Pfizer one. So I will be free in about a month. Now let's get onto the interesting differences between America and Europe. The first thing, when anyone asks me, what's it like in America? Well, I bring up the house example, which I'll get to a little bit later. And I've mentioned that before, but one of the first things I always say is
It's very simple. America
Is what you want when you want it, how you want it, except for women, drugs and alcohol. So pretty much how it is. If you want to go buy something, you've always got a 24 hour Walmart, somewhere in the distance where you can go into this massive, massive complex and get whatever you want and throw bouncy balls at your friends. Uh, until security kicks you out, we've got 24 hour gas stations where you can go and buy alcohol and snacks and food. And we've got online shopping. Even before Amazon. You could always find whatever little tiny thing you wanted and have it shipped to you within the same week. Now at Amazon, you can get it the next day or even same day. So that's one of the biggest shocks when I come from Europe and go back to America, I get
Whatever I want. And as much of it as I want so much big servings, big portions, big quantities. I mean the stores,
It really is going from Europe, especially Eastern Europe, where you have a lots of tiny little shops, especially for grocery shops, very, very small and locally owned ones. And then you go to a Costco in the us. It really is physically overwhelming. It's like a tribesmen that just sees an alien spaceship land in front of them. I mean, it's crazy. And then the portion sizes and all of the fast food places, just so much, if you ever wondered why there's so many fat people in America, just go there for a bit. It's what you want, how you want it when you want it. And of course your body hasn't updated in the last 200 years biologically to say, Hey, you have access to all of these additional nutrients. So I'm going to stop rewarding you when you have too many of them. No, it's like, Hey, you know, maybe there's not going to be a winter harvest this year or a summer harvest.
So I better store this in case you need to use this fat to burn it off. No, you know, we haven't really adapted at all physiologically compared to the abundance that we have. So America is abundance and it is big, big space. So one of the things that I've previously said is that in America, in large part, most of America, not all of it, right? Not in New York or Los Angeles or a Miami maybe, but you've probably got a house with grass in front behind it. And on both sides, we have a lot of space for all those big servings and big portions from Costco to store in our house. When you know, a family size pack is now just for one giant fat
And since we have so much space and we are spread out so much, we have an amazing car culture, just amazing. It is completely unrivaled in Europe. Nordic countries have an interesting car culture as well, where they import a lot of muscle cars from the states. It's really kind of fun to see those, but it's nothing like we have in the states where almost everybody has a car or needs a car. Our public transit systems just never developed the way that they did in Europe. And you may drive 45 minutes to get to work or someone that I knew used to drive three hours every day from home to work and then three hours back in the evening because they wanted to live in a certain area and had to work in a big city. But we also, since we're so spread out, we have to drive, but we have more space for the cars.
So the cars are also bigger. So you get into one of those big cars and you have so much space and so much room and more room for your Costco food. It sounds like I'm bashing Costco, but I'm not, I don't mean to. And then you come to Europe where you have tiny little streets and tiny little apartments and tiny little cars, super, super tiny little cars where you just feel like you can't fit in them. How, how do you fit in these cars? How do you drive around them? How are you going to survive? Where are you going to put all your groceries? What are you going to do? So it's this big versus small abundance versus, well, there is an abundance of food and everything it's just presented in a different way. So you have smaller portions, smaller stores in Europe and smaller cars and smaller places where you live.
And you're more jammed into a tighter area. And I'm not saying that one is better than the other, but there is just a big difference. And you know, most European cities can trace their roots back to, or a city of any size, trace their roots back, you know, a thousand years, 2000 years or a lot more. And so that has influenced how it has grown up and how has become what it is. And then people come from the smaller cities to the bigger cities for work. And, you know, they kind of continue the trend of how that city was built before. And so you just end up with places where they don't have a lot of space compared to America. That's the big difference, but that leads to something which I find really kind of nice in Europe. You have a lot of pedestrian zones, a lot of places where there are no cars and you just only walking and you have a lots and lots of outdoor cafes and outdoor restaurants. So you can just sit down, have a beer, have a meal, then have a few more beers and just spend a whole day with your friends. Watching people walk by having a great time. No cars, no smoke, no Smaug. Okay. You have a lot of smog, some cities, but just not as much noise pollution. You're closer to other people. You're not separated with all the space. It's not just going home after work and being by yourself and on your own. You're in the mix. You're
You? You're with the energy of the people
In the city and that's as a result, I believe, I don't know for sure, but of these cities being so much more compacted and closer together, but still having a culture that I guess, values slowing down a bit and enjoying food and drinks with one another here in Albania, they're really big on enjoying a coffee with someone else. Oh my gosh, everything happens around coffee. Just everything, everything, everything. And they'll be drinking coffee in the morning, in the middle of the day, in the evening. I don't know how anyone gets to sleep here because they're always drinking coffee. And so they're always hanging out together and socializing. So maybe, I don't know, do we lack social connection in the states or do we just go about it in a different way? And I, you can probably imagine based on how I've talked about it slightly prefer the, you know, pedestrian zone, drinking and eating and being amongst the people way of doing it.
But in the states, it's not bad. Cause you, you really do like, I think about raising a family, you have grass that you can play on with your children and they can go out in the backyard and play with their dog and have a, a time like that. Whereas here where I am now, and in so many other cities, whole families are just raised inside of apartments and they're relying to pond parks for their outdoor freedom to play with their children and raise their children. I don't know which one's better. You can't really compare. You can't really say what is better or isn't better. You can just say that one leads to a different way of living than the other one. Because in order to say, which one is better, you have to define what better means. And that's very, very difficult or it's impossible.
But one thing I want to talk about before I, uh, I'm on so many tangents now I want to get back to one thing about what you want when you want, how you want it. I remember one time I was in Vienna and I was there with my father and we are traveling around and we have clothes that we need to wash. And it is a Sunday afternoon. We could not find a single open laundromat. We could find almost no open stores or shops. I'm pretty sure the only thing that was open were maybe a kebab shop here and there. And that's about it. So not local Vietnamese culture, I suppose you could say, we could not find soap with which to wash our clothes. Two hours of walking around the capital of a European country, not being able to find some soap to wash your clothes. My gosh, that was so annoying. I mean, in a sense, once you get used to that lifestyle, you know that, so you plan ahead of time and then Sunday becomes a very relaxing day because things aren't open, but that's not how it works in America. Sundays. When you go out and you buy all your groceries, go to mass and then buy all your groceries and then you, your groceries for the week. So you really need to, if you're coming over here, just know, Sunday is not a good day for you to do anything.
And also this is one of the reasons why as a traveler, your clothes are never actually dirty. They are just different levels of clean. And yes, that does reset. Once you have gone through all of your clean clothes, those which were first dirty have now become slightly cleaner and then are on the top of the stack. So you can just sort of turn that stack of clothes upside down, and then start again, going from top to bottom. So it can be very difficult while traveling to get clean clothes occasionally or actually more than occasionally. So clothes are never actually dirty. They are just different levels of clean. So many memories of so many smelly backpackers.
Oh, that's another thing that's really big in Europe. The spray deodorant. That's not really big in America. I don't know why. Yeah. We have Axe deodorant, so you can smell like, I don't know a transformer or something, but we don't, we just don't do the spray deodorant as much. And, uh, as a backpacker, get a few of those bottles just so you can spray yourself and your, your bag before your next 12 hour bus ride. Um, there were a couple more things I wanted to touch on about cars, which is interesting. So I've said that we have a really big car culture in America. Europe doesn't really have a big car, Colt car culture at all. And I think it ties back in with the cities, how everything is done. I mean, here in almost every city I go to in Europe, I can walk everywhere in 45 minutes and that's basically my limit.
If it's 45 minutes to an hour walk, then I'll walk it. Otherwise I'm going to take some public transportation, never a taxi, by the way, the number one, most evil, little cheater, scammer, horrible people in the world. It taxi drivers, taxi drivers, taxi drivers, taxi drivers. So screw them all. Uh, that's why Uber so popular initially, I think. Um, but anyway, so they don't have a big car culture in Europe and gas prices are insanely expensive, so expensive. It's not even funny. It's just crazy. And I think the last time I checked in Germany to get a license was 1200 euros or 1500 euros. And in America it's like $45 or $50. It's very different there. You have to pay for driving lessons. There's a lot to be said about that if it's good or bad, but the point is it creates a very big hurdle for you to get a vehicle and a vehicle at its core level is freedom.
The freedom to wake up when you want to get into your vehicle, the key and go where you want, where you want, when you want, how you want not to be reliant on bus schedules or any other public transportation. It's your car. And in America, we put a lot of crap in our car. You can put some clothes in there so you can change. When you get to your destination, you can put all your, just whatever you want. And you have one section where you put all your gym stuff. I mean, the car is, is more than just a transportation vehicle. It's a way of life is what it really is. So Europe has high fuel prices. They make it. So it's very, very expensive to get a license, which really ties in to the notion, by the way of sort of bifurcating society. There are those who can, and those who can't.
And in order to become one of those who can, you need a lot more money than those who can't. And that ties in with my next thing, which is tolls, toll roads, toll roads, toll roads. Now this isn't everywhere in Europe, probably in most places. They're not going to have this, but in Greece where I just spent two weeks about a month and a half ago. Oh my goodness. So you hear about toll roads and you think, yeah, well there are toll roads here and there, like in the U S we have them around certain big cities on the east coast and maybe a few other places. And in some European cities, they'll have some tolls as well. And you may have heard of paying to enter London and things like that. So you think, oh, Greece, okay. They just want to pay for some nice roads. And then you get there and you realize that all of their highways, basically anything built within, I don't know, since the Germans kept loaning them money or these new, very
Nice, expensive toll road highways
And all the things on the side of them, by the way, are pretty much under construction. When I say all, I tried to take non toll roads, five times three of the five times, the roads on the side were under construction and bumped me back onto the toll road. Now what's the big deal with the toll road? Well, nothing, if you don't mind spending up to 30 years or more in four hours of deriving, I think the average that I spent was driving a couple hours a day. And in those couple of hours spending maybe nine euros to 15 euros, but God forbid you went across that nice, new,
Beautiful, sexy bridge, and Petross
That everyone talks about. And then you're paying another 13 euros just on that. It starts to feel like driving in Europe is just for rich people. I mean, what if you have to make a commute every day to work over that bridge, we can take a ferry and spend six euros. That's what I did. Great ferry. It, the bridge I don't think was necessary at all because, and Petross you just drive onto the ferry. There's no booth or anything stopping you. You just drive onto a ferry that has its gate down. You park your car and you pay a dude, six euros, and then you chill on the ferry for 15 minutes and that's it. And five of those minutes are waiting for other cars to get on. So I don't know a waste of a Germans taxpayer money, I suppose, that is now being repaid with an insane toll. That is, I don't know, only makes life easier for rich people, I suppose. So I don't know where I'm going with this, but it car culture in Europe. How are you supposed to have a car culture when it's just for the wealthy people? I mean, when I was in high school, you know, a little bit long ago, but not that long ago, you didn't have to be rich to have a car. You could buy a used car for not very much money. And the most expensive thing you're going to pay for was insurance. And kids drove it to high school when they turned 16.
Yeah, but I do want to say, so
I'm talking a lot about car culture and positive things. There are some negative things to it as well. And the one that I want to talk about here, which I find is kind of interesting. It also ties in with pedestrian zones and eating and drinking when the smaller, um, or the more compacted European cities when your whole life is supported through driving. Well, one part which is also going to be supported through driving is drinking because to go to where you're going to drink, unless you're drinking at home, which I've already explained is not going to be that close to the other people in the area, not compared to Europe. So if you're going to go out and be social outside your home and drink, you got to drive to get there. Now, some cities have very good taxi services and very good Uber services a lot, do not.
I would say probably most don't tend America. And so we have an issue with drinking and driving. I don't know the numbers on this, but I'm going to tell you one story that, uh, it struck me and it stuck with me ever since high school. I went on a police ride along. So you can go, I think on two ride alongs a year with your local police force. So you can see how they're doing things. It's actually amazing. Everyone in America should go and do it. Don't say anything about the cops, unless you've gone on a police ride along, it gives you a completely different perspective about what they experience. One of the things that happened that night besides just general insanity,
Um, like a lady boy at
The hor motel in the ghetto, uh, smashing a client over the head with a toilet seat and slicing the guy clean across the face, basically turning them into Scarface,
Sitting there like,
Oh my God, where am I? This is an alternate universe. I didn't know, existed here. But that was, that was very, very,
You had to see what the cops have to come through.
It's really, it can be traumatizing. I saw some things, uh, at that motel. I did not want to see. Um, so, uh, okay. Okay. So they had a lot of papers after that incident. And, uh, the cop takes me, um, or takes us to the front of a bar. And it's about closing time and he's got to fill out a bunch of paperwork. And so we parked there and he says, you know, we'll just sit here. It's across the street from the exit. It was a bar. And you can just watch all the pretty girls as they walk out. So it'd be something nice for you to look at while I do all this work. So I'm sitting in the car, the bar closes and maybe a hundred, 150 people or so started leaving the bar and I'm looking at everyone drunk off their.
And I say to the guy, I say, these people are all drunk and they're all walking to their cars right now to drive. Um, why don't you like arrest them or something, or I dunno, do something. They're all about to be drunk driver. And he said, I'll never forget this. It would be like shooting fish in a barrel, a common saying in the U S which means it's a very easy, it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Now on one hand, you can say, well, that's nice that the cop is being lenient, right? You don't necessarily want a cop. That's going to give you a ticket for going one little mile per hour, over the speed limit or one kilometer per hour over the speed limit. But there are some rules then I don't know, you decide. So he finishes up the paperwork. And a few minutes later, we get a call. This was after the bar had emptied out, uh, about a man who had crashed his car into thankfully a parked car, a drunk man who was only a three minute drive from where we were parked. And there weren't any other bars around that were just being led out at that time.
This, the guy was probably one of the people that I saw come out of the bar and he crashes drunk into a parked car. Thankfully he only hurts himself, messes up his head and probably his neck really badly given the way the windshield looked. And, uh, yeah. So not enforcing that probably directly led to that guy crashing. And, uh, when you hear some of the other stories about what happens with drunk drivers, it's just crazy. So, you know, culture has consequences or results. You leads to things, some good, some not good, but that's a bit of a dreary note to end this on. So I want to go back to eating in Europe. They take more time to eat. Just simple. It's plain and simple. The number one complaint that you'll hear from an American when they come to Europe. And now that I've lived in Europe for a long time, it's kind of fun to see this.
When, when, uh, people that are fresh off the boat arrive, the number one complaint is it takes so long to get service. I have to wait for ever. But then when you live in Europe for awhile and you go back to America, you sit down and you're like, oh my gosh, they won't leave me alone. This lady is coming back to my table every two minutes to refill my drink, to ask me if she can get me anything else. And what the hell is this check doing on my table before I even finished eating it is it is the, you know, two funny things about this. So you get a lot, you get free refills in America unless you're in New York. Cause they're, I don't know what's wrong with new Yorkers, but then I got yelled at for trying to get a free refill there.
I remember that. So you order, um, a Coca-Cola a soda, uh, or you order a coffee and you're going to be able to get as much of it as you want a free refill. And what they do is when you finished half your beverage, it's a soda. They'll put another one on the table next to it. I mean, you never have to go without it. Okay. So when you get used to that and you come over to Europe and you order an incredibly overpriced baby Coke, like you order a Coke. That's four times what you'd pay for in America. And you get a baby little bottle, like a tiny little bottle, 0.2, five liters, or 0.18, seven liters. What is this wine? Like? Why is it so tiny like that? I don't know. So you get that. And at first it seems like, okay, it's just an American in once more Coca-Cola but think about it this way, your whole life, you have been raised getting unlimited amounts of liquids while you eat and water as well.
And it's from the tap and it's ice water. It's very nice, very clean. Unless you're in, I don't know, Michigan or Detroit or Flint, wherever that happened, the thing happened with a water there. So you get as much as you want. And what happens is you get used to having a drink of something after every bite of food. Another reason why we're probably quite fat. Uh, so you have food, then you have some Coke, food, Coke, food, Coke, food, Coke, food, Coke, or food, water, food, water, but usually it's Coke. And then you come to Europe and you get a baby bottle of soda, baby bottle of Coke. You can basically just not finish your meal, your tongue. Isn't used to not having liquid splashed on it after every bite. And so you actually end up with a dry tongue. It's really kind of funny to think. What about your body's been used to all this liquid now? You don't have it. And not only that, you can't get the waiter to come to your table so you can get another baby Coke. You can see why, why? Yeah. Americans can seem, I don't know. So rude or so blessedness and complain a lot about the service in Europe.
I don't get enough of what I want. My body isn't even used to it, but there, I do believe, I don't know if there's any evidence behind this. I really do believe it's a physiological thing. You're just not used to eating like this. And also you're used to everything very quick. And so you don't space out your day long enough because you think I'm going to sit down, I'm going to eat and I'm going to be done in 20 minutes. Okay. Maybe you'll get your first drink in 20 minutes. And now let's, let's turn this around. Okay. So you spend a lot of time in Europe or you're born and raised here depending where you go. Things obviously are going to be different for really big cities where you have to go quickly. Um, but in most places you're going to sit down, you're going to relax, relax. Did you hear that word re
Lax and take your time?
And then you get to America and everything is thrown at you so quickly, so quickly, so quickly, so quickly, the water is
Ice cold. The Cola is ice cold.
I can't serve you alcohol because they didn't get the alcohol license, the liquor license, because we don't drink alcohol at every food establishment in America. Yeah. And then you physically can't eat that quickly. And then the check comes and you're like, wait a second. Uh, I'm kind of wanting to order some more food or maybe a dessert or something. And there's a check on my table. What am I doing? What's going on here? And then you are so rushed that you don't understand what just happened. You didn't have a nice relaxing, enjoyable meal. It's like your cat that'll force fed and then get the hell out and there's pressure to go out. And they do come to your table every two minutes. It's very, very annoying. And yeah, the body's not used to it. The mind isn't used to it. The soul is not used to it once again, I don't know which one's better, but they're very different. And going between the two societies will not to there's many differences in Europe, but you know, generalizing going between the two areas is, uh, yeah. It's, I don't know. It's interesting, interesting to think about. And I think I'd kind of like to end it on that, that part, you know, a kind of funny, more superficial note about food and the different ways that we eat. And, um, actually I'll leave you with one thing. This is one that I really,
Really, I really want
To do. Hopefully very soon when I'm fully vaccinated, I can fly into Italy and have this Sunday with my friend. So I met her in Dublin years ago and she said that in her region of Italy on Sundays, not every Sunday or maybe every Sunday, I don't know, they will have a lot of people get together and they will start cooking at 10 in the morning or so, and just cook and eat and a drink for hours
And hours and hours and hours and hours
Cooking, eating, drinking, slow roasted meats and wine. Oh, four hours.
How beautiful is that? Anyway,
It just went to another, another plane of existence right there. Very happy one. Let's end this talk on that. I have so much more that I could say forever and ever, and ever all of the differences between all of these cultures are so interesting and there are so many of them. So I think I'm going to touch on this topic many, many more times and, uh,
Yeah, cheers to our beautiful differences.