The Candy Store of Europe


Europe is more than just the border that you see on a map!

Here, I talk about some of my experiences with learning just how different parts of the same country can be, from languages, to music, and more.

I hope you enjoy this podcast and don't forget to leave a comment or ask a question below :)


Hello. Hello and welcome to no fairytale travels this week. I'm going to talk about some of the, how to say the interestingly fractured nature of Europe. That sounds a little bit harsh, but essentially just that, you know, Spain, isn't just Spain. There are many, many big distinct groups within the country. The same with Germany, the same with so many other countries in Europe. I mean, you go to the UK and you go to part of it and you think, well, wait a second, nobody's speaking English anymore. And where did all the vowels go? And so I'm going to talk about some of my interesting experiences as it relates to that. And we'll see where it goes from there. If you have any questions or comments, go to no fairy tale travels dot sub and find the post for this podcast or whatever it is and leave a message there. And I'll try and get back to it. Now I'm going to apologize in advance. If I talk too quickly, it turns out that working out in the morning, though, it is hell for the first, I don't know, three months eventually becomes amazing and it makes you feel so good. And you combine that with coffee and I just got to calm down how quickly I talk. So let's pour some wine and talk about some of the differences of Europe.

I found a great wine by the way, it's Illuminati. I don't know if I mentioned this before. [inaudible] I was thinking maybe I do different wine for each episode, but this is just so good and it's 10 bucks, so I'm going to stick with it. So anyway, one of the first things that we're not one of the first things, one of the things that I thought growing up in the states where I'm learning about Europe, and mostly you learn about world war one and world war II over and over and over again in the middle ages. And so on. When you think about countries kind of, or at least for me, when I thought about them, I thought, okay, Germany is Germany, okay? Belgium is Belgium Britain or the UK, or however you call it just that specific island is just itself. Spain is Spain, Frances, France. Italy is Italy because of course my frame of reference was the United States of America, where pretty much it's a monocultural society. Now there are many, many, many different little cultures in between, right? If you talk about food, that's a really good example. You go to some places and you're going to get really good, interesting local barbecue. And you go to the next city or the next state, and they're going to have a different version of that. You go to, I think it's Southern California, where I had fried chicken and waffles.

It was, I did taste like I was about to have a heart attack, but it was, it was a very happy heart attack taste. Um, so food is a Philadelphia Philly, cheese, steak, Chicago, you got deep dish pizza in New York. You have the really thin slice pizza. We have many, many differences, but when you compare them to Europe, it's really not that different. For instance, in America, I can travel vast distances and still speak English with someone still pretty much understand how culture is going to work there. How driving is kind of going to work a little bit more angry and aggressive in New York, a lot more so in Philadelphia where part of my family or half of my family is from, but still I can feel relatively comfortable going all over the place. So you think, okay, United States, we've got English and we've got a very large country of independent people, lots of homes and space and big cars and highways and yada, yada, yada, we watch the same TV shows. We're pretty darn similar when you compare it to Europe. It's really only some, I would say nefarious actors who try to tell us how different we are from each other when we share so many similarities. So I think, okay, when I arrive in Europe, all right, Germany, Germany is Germany. So, you know, Bavaria, they're not going to actually speak Bavarian, right. Because is Bavarian even a language. I don't know.

And then the first time I'm in Bavaria and I go shopping with my friend, I was staying on her couch for a month and we're in there and she ordered some meat across the counter from the meat guy. And I thought, okay, that's kind of a funny thing that she's a funny noises that are coming out of her mouth. Um, and I said, what is that? And she goes, oh yeah, it's Bavarian. I said, what? It's a spoken language. She goes, yeah. And I said, okay. So how do you say the name of that food in German? And she goes, I have no idea. I've never said it in German. Then we go to a picnic with all of her friends, all people who might previously met, but just spoken English with, and everyone is drinking and having a great time, maybe 10, 12 people.

And it's this, this noise again that I had never heard, except for at the deli just recently before that. And they are all conversing regularly, socially in Bavarian. Now, I guess in a way you could kind of compare that to Creole, but that's only in a very, very tiny part of America where that happens. But, and I've never actually heard it myself, but in Bavaria. Yeah, they were speaking Bavarian and pretty much every aspect of their life was occurring in Bavarian. So it wasn't just that people from Berlin disliked people from Munich or who may dislike people from cologne or Hamburg, it was what felt like when you went into Bavaria, just a different society almost. And when I meet Germans who are from Bavaria versus other parts of Germany, they are, I can tell immediately that they're from Bavaria because they're so much more gregarious.

They actually know what a joke is like a joke that makes you laugh. But, but I don't want to get on that topic too, too much, because I want to move over to another country where it's a little bit more evident that it's not just a singular unit, a singular entity, let's go to Spain. A lot more people know about Spain in, or at least know about what I'm about to say. And it's kind of interesting. So in Spain, it's not just Spain. You have got dramatically distinctly different regions of Spain. You have Basque territory, which isn't just limited to Spain, by the way, it does go into France as well. Then you've got Catalans on the right. Everyone knows, or a lot of people know about Barcelona. Okay, well, that's Catalonia the capital. I believe the capital capital cities. Aren't always what you think.

It's very easy to get tricked like Canberra in Australia, not Sydney. Um, but Barcelona in Catalonia and the Catalans speak Catalan. They don't speak Spanish. Well, they probably speak Spanish as well, but Katelyn is their language. And for the Basque people, Basque is their language and they have a cultural and a heritage and an identity around that. And if you read a little bit of history, at least about the Basques, I don't know too much about the Catalans. You're going to find some, I don't know, uh, interesting things that happened in the not too distant past that prove to you just how distinct it is and, and how amazing it is that Spain is a single country in a single entity. Um, then you go to the south where you have under Lucia. You've also got Valencia with, I think, do they speak Valenciano there?

I'm not entirely certain, to be honest, that might be just sort of closer to a dialect of Spanish than an entirely separate language. One of the problems with living somewhere as a foreigner is it is a little bit easier to hang out with foreigners. And sometimes we fall into that trap. So when I lived in Valencia, I'm not certain that I had the most correct Valencia experience, although I loved it there. And then of course, you've got Madrid, which is a separate entity all to itself. It's like Paris in France or New York in America. I don't really find it a good representation of the country. It's kind of got its own little distinct thing going on there and all trains, by the way, go through Madrid. It's a very, very, very annoying to have to go so far out of your way to get where you're going.

And, oh my gosh, I can't believe I almost forgot this one. I don't think this is Basque, but I met a girl in London when I was staying in a hostel there. One of the coolest people I've met and she plays the bagpipes. She lives in the far left Northwest side of Spain. I think it's north, it's at least the west side of Spain. And yeah, I think it's, maybe it's on the Atlantic. I don't know. I'm going to have to look at a map, actually. Let me see. And she plays the bagpipes and her favorite music. Yes. So I think it's above Portugal and her favorite music is music with bagpipes in it because apparently I don't know if it was the Scots or if it was Nordic people who came through Scotland and then came down there. But at some point in history, people that played the bagpipes made their way down to Spain and where she's from born and raised, bagpipes are a big thing.

They, how cool is that? That's so crazy and unexpected. You know, when people think of Spain, they think of topless women on beaches, which by the way, when I was 16 and I was on the beach for the first time, seeing that, not the first time on the beach, but the first time seeing that, oh my God. Yeah. Uh, it was, it was amazing. We should, we should adopt that part of the culture into the U S um, so they think of that. They think of running with the bulls. They think of those things. They don't think of a girl playing bagpipes.

So it's amazing to me today that it is its own country and people in Catalonia are still trying to separate. There are some very recent, interesting history where they made an attempt to do that. And it wasn't, I'm not going to make a comment on it. The problem with having friends in every place now is that it's very easy to, well, no, no, no. I said that I'm making this podcast to be more free with what I say. I think it's that the Catalans tried to become independent. And I think it's very interesting and ironic that a lot of your, so then I don't know the full thing, but some of the leaders went to, I think, Brussels and were arrested there. Um, I think it's very interesting that Europeans talk a lot about support for the freedom and the independence of this group of people and how they should be able to choose their own destiny and not be forced to do this because of some leader in another city tells them they have to live their life like this.

Yes. I believe in freedom. The freedom to choose the freedom to be yourself. Oh, but yeah, totally not. If you want to like break off from the country. No, no, no, no, you can't be that free. Just like, like we can be as free as I, um, as it's pretty much okay with me, but I like Barcelona. I want to go there. I don't want to have to go through a border. It could be difficult. Like, so definitely don't break free. Definitely. Don't don't don't ever actually become independent, but, but be free. Yeah. Yeah. Freedom, freedom. Anyway, there is a, maybe since I'm on a tangent, I'm going to say maybe a good way to characterize a lot of European attitudes is hypocrisy. And I tried to have a discussion with a girl who has a philosophy degree from Oxford about, um, just the notion of being able.

Self-determination being able to determine if you want to be a part of this country or not. And it was interesting. Um, she was unable to have the discussion because apparently in Oxford, they are unable to remove their emotions and talk about principles and just the philosophical idea of self-determination. They can't do that. I don't know if she really went to Oxford, but she mentioned it a lot to everybody and it was very annoying about it. Um, but she broke down very, very quickly when confronted with just the notion of, okay, I know that you don't want them to be separate, but let's talk about the idea of you actually, like if his whole region wants to be separate, you know, the principal, do you believe that they should be able to choose their future or someone in another city should tell them, no, you don't get to separate yourself from me.

You have to stay under my control. That's an interesting discussion. And I think that talking about the principle of the ability to do that should be separated from the talk of, is it a good idea to do it or a bad idea to do it? There are two separate things, and I'm not even going to mention the UK because people can't take their emotions out of that discussion. They just talk about political things. And I say, listen, I don't know any politics about it, but I think it's cool that people get to at least determine their future. I don't know if it's going to be good or bad, but I'm cool with the principal. Um, but if every region in Europe followed this, so let's go to the UK. Now it would be rather interesting. And one of my interesting experiences in the UK is I was in London, in a hostel there and a very, very, uh, social in that hostel.

And it was very, it was a very good, hostile experience. Every time I was there, except for one, I met some really cool girls from Wales and they invited me to go and stay with them one weekend and they were going to show me around Cardiff and I'm thinking, okay, these girls are cool. We had a great night hanging out together. We were part of a real fun group. And so I go there and I get off the bus. And the first thing that I notice is a word, a word on a sign that seems to have had all of its vowels removed. And then all of the continents multiplied by five. It was the longest word I'd ever seen, even longer than German words. And there were no vowels in it. And I very quickly learned that a Wales has its own language and it is spoken.

It is written and it is a live. And this girl named pheon lovely, lovely friend of the girl who invited me there. She spoke it fluently. She spoke it with her family. She spoke it with her friends. Not everybody spoke it, but she spoke it fluently. And it was one of the coolest things I've ever seen. Just completely not expecting it. Having done no research, just thinking, oh yeah, this island, everyone on it just speaks English. It's always, they've always just spoken English of course, because look at all of the lands that have come from there that now speak English. So of course their entire tiny little island, it speaks English. And then I get to Wales and they speak Welsh.

Oh, it was so fun. I loved Cardiff. You know, I spent, I think a total of two years living in London and I almost regret that now London's great fun. But every time that I go outside of London, I'm just meet so many great, amazing people. And when I travel, I meet so many great, amazing people from all over the UK. And so I really want to travel around there more when you go to Scotland, they have their own language there as well, but hell half the time, you wouldn't even know it because you can't understand what they say in English.

I want to do like a language segment where I bring people on and, and try to learn some phrases. And, uh, I think in Scotland, it is garlic, not Gaelic. And in Ireland they speak Gaelic. Not garlic. I don't recall it's it sounds very similar to me, but they're different apparently. Um, Ireland is another interesting one, but not as interesting as that, because it's pretty much, you know, you don't have as many differences as Wales and Scotland and there you've got Gaelic or garlic and English, but it is a spoken language and all the teachers in Ireland, they have to speak it. And it's a really cool when you hear them speak it. I think it sounds like some sort of leprechauns going to steal your gold when they speak it to you. It's really, really cool. You go to Belgium and there they've got French and Flemish and Flemish is great.

I love Flemish, like other than romance. It's what I'd imagine. Some mountain trolls would and the French Belgians, they really look down on the Flemish Belgians, which is funny because when everyone visits Belgium, they just want to go to the Flemish parts. So there you have, all of these, these language is I would say a function of culture and aspect of culture. And it's, it's interesting to think about that and talk about that. As in some languages, you have words for things you don't have in other languages. So I think that maybe it's the best example of a society that has many different cultures inside of it. So Belgium, isn't just Belgium. It's what is it? Wallonia and something else I don't recall. And I'm not going to look it up now. Um, but every one of these countries has distinct different, large chunks of it that don't necessarily think the same way as the other part of the country.

And they have managed to still remain a country. Now, if you look through history, it makes sense how they can have so many different cultures because the borders weren't always what they are for so long. But I am, I am really amazed that there hasn't been, you know, world war three and even world war four, maybe it all just comes down to money at the end of the day, because so much of Europe is just so different. So much more than it looks like on a map where you just see these big borders and you don't realize that there are many, many, many small ones in between. I mean, in the UK on an even smaller level, you go to a different city and they have a different accent. I think in the U S you have to go like a thousand miles to get a different accent or something.

You have to go a very long distance to get a different accent. I have often described Europe as a candy shop. You get lots of little flavors jammed together on a shelf, and you can just go and sample all these fun little flavors in one place. And it's really, really fun and really interesting. I'm going to leave the Nordic countries out of this discussion for obvious reasons if you've been there. Although I love them, especially Finland, Finnish people are super cool by the way. Um, let me see if there's anything else I wanted to say specifically, because now I want to talk about Finnish people.

Oh, okay. I want to mention, uh, one of my favorite things about Switzerland, that it seems like a lot of people don't know. Yes, Switzerland, a lot of people know has multiple languages and has multiple cultures, these cultures, by the way, they don't actually mix as much as people think you've got the French in Geneva. You've got Germans. Zurich, I believe is the center of that one. Baron is a very interesting city by the way, as well. And you've got the Italians in the south and you also have one more. So Switzerland has four national languages, French, German, Italian, and Roe munch. Not to mention the dialects. A lot of people know about Swiss German. [inaudible],

it's a very, it's a very weird, um, I don't know, not weird. It's a funny dialect. And sometimes they think that you can't understand them if you speak German. And, uh, that has led to some interesting mistakes on their part. I would say recently involving me, but yeah, Switzerland has four languages and the languages of the trolls and the mountain that keep all the gold, by the way, that's definitely a real munch. The other week, I was actually able to learn how to say tree in roll munch. I've completely forgotten it, but I was very proud of myself for that evening. And I think, uh, three or four beers later, I had successfully forgotten what had made me so proud three or four beers before that. So, so cheers to at least remembering that, uh, you learned it at one point, but now that it got me thinking about Finland, I do want to talk a little bit about Finland.

I love Finnish people. They are so awesome. And they are, what do I say? What do I say? Um, I'm not worried about what I say, but I'm just thinking like, are they an extreme version of the lack of emotional intelligence that you get the farther north, you go in Germany, maybe I'd have to exclude Hamburg from that, by the way, um, or Russia, or they are very cold and very matter of fact, and very straight forward and very non-confrontational very non-confrontational. I mean, I remember I was up there. I've got so many stories to tell you at some point, this isn't the point, but this one I'm going to tell you, I'm in a supermarket with a friend, the local friend in the middle of Finland, not in Helsinki. The friend is from there. And there are three people standing across an aisle in a very big store.

And they're all looking in the other direction. And my friend and I let my friend walk a little bit in front of me. She just walks up behind that group and just stands there. Doesn't say anything. Doesn't say, pardon me? It doesn't say, excuse me, it doesn't tap anyone on the shoulder. Doesn't make any noise to let her presence be known. And the other people, somehow don't notice that a human being is behind them. They just stand there. I let it remain like that for 30 seconds thinking there's no way. There's no way. There's no way. And then I just said, pardon me? Could we just get through? And of course the kindly moved, but my friend just, she was never going to say anything. I don't know how long she was going to stand there. I mean, they they're used to not moving much and very cold winter is when they get snowed in, I guess. So I don't know. I don't know a great person, by the way, I'll tell you lots of stories about her much, much, much, much later. Um, but then so th there are non-confrontational, they don't let that much out there, not that emotional, but good. God Saturday comes around.

Yeah. Yeah. Everything comes out. All of the emotions, all of the energy, all of the ferociousness of that was bottled up in the week is just a let out on Saturday. They're not, they're not a violent, like, um, I'm British people on a Tuesday evening, but they just, they'll just open up to you. They'll cry, they'll laugh. They'll take their clothes off and jump and fountains. I mean, they'll do a lot of the very public fountains in front of other people when you're not expecting it. And aren't sure if you're supposed to be embarrassed or what's going on, just it's, it's amazing. It's like a switch is flipped. And, uh, that story didn't have anything to do with, with what I was talking about today, but I wanted to say it because it's so fun. So the candy store of Europe is a, is a great place to be. Yeah, I like that. I'm going to end with that one.

Cheers to the candy store!