Having spent 10 days back home in Europe I have things to be grateful for in both home land and my chosen land of residency so I thought I would do a quick comparison. If I was savvy enough or just less lazy I’d make it in to a snazzy little infographic but I’m not so I won’t.
1. Soda vs Fizzy drinks – of course they’re the same thing with a few vital differences: a) In most places in Europe a diet coke comes in a beautiful glass bottle – the real deal, no soda gun syrupy mess here. A sparkling iced bottle of….wait, scratch that…. A Luke warm bottle of soda served with, if you’re lucky 2 ice cubes and a slither of lemon. Which brings me to point b) If you dare to ask for more ice like I do, (you get the famous scene in Oliver Twist: The boy asked for MORE…the boy will be hung) you are lucky to get an extra cube. And c) In most places you will pay $4 approx for each bottle of diet coke. No free refills here. On yer bike son.
2. Air Conditioning – Stepping off the plane in the UK was a thing of beauty. having left Dallas in a haze of 30 something consecutive days above 100f the wall of crisp 60f was so refreshing that my thoughts of lame British summer’s washed away as I wrapped myself up in my pashmina and appreciated all that is London in August. That was until we got to Spain. Gorgeous beautiful Spain. Picturesque. Stunning at every turn.
It’s great until the summer sun has taken a toll for the day and you want to cool down….and nowhere has the AC cranked. I’m sure the Spaniards think that a drop in temperature from 90 outside to 85 inside is a relief from the heat but this AC spoilt brat needs 70. I then wondered, did the Spanish have it right. Is it better to dress like it’s summer and galavant in cheek hugging shorts and bikini tops and embrace the heat or live like we do in Texas with the air somewhere between a constant 60 – 70 and jaunt in to work in our trousers and long sleeve shirts pretending summer doesn’t exist until we step outside and sizzle in the heat of our long sleeves and wool trousers. I know one thing for sure: My bikini definitely won’t ring up the bill at the dry cleaners.
3. To tip or not to tip – In the UK I was always used to the 10% tip if service was excellent, in the US it’s 15% if the service was mediocre. If you’re in Spain 5% is the expected tip. The Mr. Was quite appalled to start with. But where Europe tips less – they make up for it in solid wages for employees and there is, of course the benefit of free healthcare, education, etc.
4. – It’s taboo to talk toilet but just this one small note in Europe vs US bathrooms/loos America – what’s the deal with the toilet stall door having the gaps between the door and the door frame? I don’t like the idea of people poking their nose in my business, literally. UK – why no seat covers? Even my trip to the Harrods ‘luxury bathrooms’ complete with the “room” attendant had me frustrated with lack of people’s cleanliness. Even the room attendant was blaspheming under her breath about people’s obvious inexperience and inability to aim straight. A simple toilet seat cover would resolve most of these problems. I’m glad they don’t charge you £1 anymore.
5. My daily work out – when I lived in London I never needed the gym, why? Well when you work and spend time in the city you walk, skipping the tube and just walking for 30 mins instead of sitting in the traffic or crowding yourself in to the tube was actually a peasant experience at the end of the day. Living now in the States for 5 years I’ve lost that. Everywhere is a drive. Even if you could walk you still drive. Why would you walk when you have a car? Admittedly NY or Chicago is different to Texas or LA but I can’t walk anywhere in Texas to actually get somewhere. I’d be walking for hours. Not to mention walking in the heat? No thank you. I do miss city life. I enjoyed walking around London for a few days. You miss so much in the car. And who wants to miss out on things while you’re in your car cursing at the guy who just cut you off.
So who wins? Team USA (I hear chants of “we’re number one”) or Europe…. I’ll let you decide.