I’m back! After spending 23 days in the European Alps, Hubby and I arrived back in the U.S. safe and sound. What an adventure! We saw northern Italy, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Austria, and Germany; saw beautiful sights and centuries-old sites: made new friends and made our way across cobblestone streets; and rode trains, planes, buses, ferries, funiculars, and cog railroads. While it’s fun to see how many things you can see and do in an area, it’s also fun to sit on a bench, watch people as they go about the town, and get acquainted with the local people.
Before we left on this trip, I was a little nervous about going to a place where there had been terrorist attacks (we went through the Munich airport). Once there, not once did I feel threatened or unsafe, including when I got lost in Salzburg after dark while going back to the hotel. That’s more than I can say about the streets around my home. The few European people I talked to about it, were afraid to come to the USA where there are shootings and murders all the time. That surprised me.
A few other things surprised me, like Europeans don’t use ice in their drinks which, being from the South, was hard for me. If I wanted ice for my pop, I had to go to the bar to get it. Then I’d get 3 or 4 cubes. Only one of our hotels had an ice machine. I came home really tired of tepid pop. Coke is the top pop where we traveled, but Sprit was popular too. Diet Coke is called Coke Light. I didn’t try any of the foreign pops because I couldn’t read the labels to know the flavorings.
No butter is provided with bread. In their eating habits, bread is to be enjoyed as bread and not smothered with other flavorings. While the bread is very good, it’s dry, but that brings up another surprise. Little water is provided at meals. One small glass and that’s it. If you want additional water, it’s hard to get or it comes as another small glass. Plus, if you get a carafe of water, you have to pay for it. Water must be in short supply there because I couldn’t figure out why restaurants were so stingy with water.
In Switzerland, people are required by law to own a firearm, have ammunition, and have a bomb shelter in their home. If they don’t have a bomb shelter in their homes, they are required to pay a special tax to support the community bomb shelter. Everyone is required spend two years in the military where they learn how to use firearms. Even after they get out, they must take tests showing they still know how to shoot a gun. If they fail, they must take a refresher course. I guess neutrality has a price.
In our travels, we found many people speak multiple languages. That wasn’t really a surprise, but at the same time I was surprised at how many people spoke English. We didn’t have any problem communicating with the locals. But I felt very limited, speaking only one language. American students struggle with English, yet in the broader world, they should also be learning more than that.
I have lots more to share so check back next week for more thoughts on our European trip! In the coming blogs, I’ll talk about the places we went and the special people we met. I won’t talk about the self-cleaning toilet seat in the museum in Salzburg. I’m still trying to get one for my house.
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