R.L. SAUNDERS

writer attempting real life in the middle of everybody else's vacation

“Europe”

on February 22, 2013

I just got back from a trip to Western Europe with my mom, sister, and daughter. Using “Europe” and “European” in my updates to friends and family just kept things simple. I do realize, however, that Europe is a huge continent and that we only saw a few cities in a few countries. I wouldn’t like it much if somebody wrote with any authority about North America based on their brief experiences in New York City, Ottawa, and Orlando. Or drew conclusions about all Americans based on their impressions of Snooki or a disgruntled server at the Disney Characters Breakfast. I’m writing here without authority. My lazy observations are just that.

My sister organized and paid for the trip. Jill could do this because she is not a writer and because she is a kind, selfless person. She’s been all over Europe on business so she had some idea about places we might like, and places we might not like as much. For example, we skipped Ukraine this time. Mostly because she spent several weeks in a hospital there a few years ago, eating some kind of slimy gruel and battling multiple life-threatening blood clots.

So the stops on our tour included Paris, Nice, Monte Carlo, Rome, and Amsterdam. We meant to visit Sorrento and Pompeii, but missed our plane by six minutes. Instead, we ended up taking an expensive and gorgeous last-minute ride on a train through part of the French and Swiss Alps and beautiful French and Italian countryside. When I go back to that part of the world, I want to spend time in those sorts of places. This will happen right after I sell a book or two, then sell the film rights to Disney for 7.5 zillion dollars (that’s about 5.7 zillion Euros).

It’s the wintry off-season in most places we visited, which was cold but cool. Fewer people and fewer green and flowery things means you can see a city. I mean like really see what the people have done with the place, without things blooming all over and causing your brain to read beauty where it otherwise might not.

Speaking of green things. I found “Europe” to be very green. I’m talking about public transportation, bike lanes, and recycling bins everywhere. And they’re always full because people take them seriously and use them regularly.

There’s not a lot of plastic packaging, either. Mostly glass and cardboard containers. And forget plastic bags. In fact, if you want a bag of any sort, you’d probably better bring your own reusables or plan to pay for them upon checkout.

But there is something the U.S. does right, or at least better than what I experienced in Europe. Accessibility for handicapped people. Maybe there’s no ADA equivalent over there, I have no idea. But if you’re physically handicapped, I’d say the United States is a decent place to live, comparatively. Unless we factor in affordable health care, which we are not, because it would destroy my argument here.

Okay, I’m going to piece this up into two or three posts in case you suffer blog attention span issues, like me. Stay tuned for next time(s), when we’ll explore important things like coffee and language and depression and weed.

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7 responses to ““Europe”

  1. No London?!?

    (I jest. I think all the cities/places you visited are lovely. I will be spending time there when MY film rights go to Disney for 5.7 zillion Euros.)

  2. Steve W says:

    I had a wonderfully witty retort to the sandal wearing, Europe jetting-setting life you suffer through. But WordPress gave me a hard time with my post and then lost it.

    I’m too exhausted to rewrite it, so… Glad you are back safe and hope you had fun…

  3. Bill Trudell says:

    What a wonderful sister you have 🙂

  4. Barbara Tacey says:

    How exciting. I was Europe in 1969 (OMG) I was 16y. I always thought it would be awesome to (sort of speaking) travel back in time to see the chg’s in cultural/ traditions. We traveled as Americans under the presumption that we would act like Americans, respecting all cultural/ traditions. There were many to follow or we would be sent home per the cost of our parents! I could tell you many if you’d like. We saw just about every country but Germany, in 5 wks! I can almost remember every day.

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