Reflections on the 6th Month

Posted: March 12th, 2014 | Author: | Filed under: Thoughts | No Comments »


We spent the entire 6th month of our trip in Europe (as usual, I’m behind on the blog, if you couldn’t tell).  Europe is a different beast compared to America in so many different ways.  Here are a few we’ve noticed that have made an impact in the way we choose to live our daily lives:

Getting the Check

In America, we usually get the bill for our food rather quickly after we finish our food.  And if we don’t, we get antsy and mutter darkly about customer service.  In Europe, you’ll likely never get the bill right after the dishes are cleared. Instead, people linger over their drinks and conversations for a long while.  Eating out becomes an experience, and the company something to be savored.  I don’t know how many conversations Rick and I have had over the last couple months, delving deeper and deeper into our relationship, our thoughts & beliefs, our philosophies, and our reflections on any number of mundane & extraordinary events.  It’s a luxury to not be in a rush. 

Green Living

Supplementing our meals with produce & snacks from the local market are a really great way to eat healthier without completely killing our budget.  We currently have 4 types of fruit in our hotel room along with dark chocolate Leibniz cookies (yum! and nerdy too!), granola bars, and whole wheat bread for the midnight munchies.  Unfortunately, the further west we go, the more roadside stalls & inexpensive restaurants focus on just meat and less on anything veggie-based, so we must do what we can!  However, we’ve learned to make sure that when we go to the market, to bring our own bags.  Depending on the country & the market, it’s become de rigueur to either charge for plastic shopping bags or not to offer a bag at all.  We’re lucky that we brought fabric bags with us & I regularly stash away heavy-duty plastic bags from our shopping trips.  Today, we bought so many groceries, we stuffed our fabric bag full and I ended up lugging 4.5 lbs. of apples all the way back to our hostel while Rick wrestled with the rest. 

Also, many European countries have recycle bins (Italy goes crazy with this idea) nearby the trash cans.  It’s actually a part of their mentality, which I find admirable.  I think if each person recycled a little more as part of their daily routine, it would do a lot of good in the long run.  And it’s not like it takes much time out of my life. 

Good-Natured Dogs

Yeah, I love animals (if you couldn’t tell by now).  In Europe, there are rarely any strays that I see (nor outside cats, for that matter). But almost every pet we’ve encountered have been so well-behaved.  In fact, we had a man walk by us with a couple pitbulls dogging his heels without leashes on, and not only did they not stray far from him, but no one reacted adversely to the sight. 

Maybe it’s because America is rather sue-happy (one of my Italian friends went on a rant about it for a good 15 minutes) but I know that if I had a pet pitbull and walked it around without a leash in the US, someone would feel honor-bound to harangue me for it regardless of how well-behaved the dog was.  Of course, the dogs would react to that fear and act aggressive accordingly.  It’s a vicious cycle.  Speaking of that, what’s up with the demonization of pitbulls? Out of all the dogs I’ve approached in my entire life (many of which were pitbulls and other large dogs), the only breed of dog that’s ever tried to bite me has been Chihuahuas.  But, I digress. 

Good Times

Spring’s slowly peeking its head out, the flowers are starting to bloom and the birds are singing their hearts out.  Thank goodness, since I feel like we’ve been dogged with cold & rainy weather since we left Thailand back in October.  When the sun is out, everyone’s out, picnicking on the grass, sitting on benches, soaking up the Vitamin D permeating the air.  It’s an amazing feeling to stroll beside the river in the middle of the weekday, feeling like I’m living in a postcard.  Seriously, we have so little time to live overall, I feel like it’s such a tragedy to waste fine days.  No matter what happens when we return to the States, I’d like to keep being able to take walks on sunny days instead of mired in everything else indoors. 

We were also in Munich on Mardi Gras, and that was SOME party.  It was a city-wide holiday and everyone, young and old, was out having fun.  A good quarter of the revelers were dressed in elaborate costumes of some sort.  And it wasn’t just the young kids or teenagers.  Some of the best costumed were those pushing 70 or older.  Rick says it’s a German thing to go all out in terms of costumes (His previous company was based in Germany so there were a lot of Germans working there).  I’d much rather go to this sort of party, where everyone is swept up in good cheer no matter the age, rather than any club (but that’s my personal preference).  I really hope to settle down in a city someday with the same sort of fun civic sense. 


All right, this title doesn’t start with a G, but I couldn’t think of a good G-word without it being incredibly lame.  Every place we’ve traveled to, including all the Asian and Middle East countries, have had such incredibly long histories.  In fact, on one of our tours, our tour guide pointed out a sight saying, “And this is a more recent building, dating from the 15th century”.  I mean, in the US, on the East Coast, our oldest buildings (Harvard, maybe?) are from the 1600’s.  In Los Angeles, it’s probably Olvera Street which is from the mid 1800’s.  Our history is so new, it’s ridiculous.  I guess that’s why Rick and I are so in awe of all the castles, ruins, art, etc. since we just don’t encounter that on a normal basis in our day-to-day life in the States.  I bet all the Europeans are like “whatever” when it comes to castles. 

And learning of each country’s history has put a new spin on the way I’m perceiving history.  Everything is starting to mesh together into a much more complex view of human interactions and we’re now able to perceive the widespread influences that are the direct results of a few decisions made in key points in time by key people.  It makes me much more cognizant of my own actions, how they can linger long past my one lifetime and can affect so many people I’ll never meet. 

However, I have to admit, we’ve absorbed so much ancient history by now (I mean, how many medieval-era paintings are there in this world?), that we’re starting to focus more on recent history in our sightseeing, which is anything from the 1700’s on.  See how much different that is from the US?  The 1700’s are ancient history there. 

Anyways, we’re still having fun and geeking out!

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