Europe x USA

Generalizations are always dangerous, but I had to come up with some of the very shallow but most evident differences between Europe and USA. Here are some of them:

  • Better drivers, better traffic: Well… except in Italy, Romania, and Spain, where everyone seems to be in a big fucking hurry and traffic signs are regarded as just “suggestions”. But in general European drivers are very good. Maybe because it takes so much effort and training to get a license here, plus the cost of the vehicle and insurance are so high, that drivers are generally better than in USA.
  • Smokers everywhere, lots if it: For non-smoking Americans this point is quite irritating. They smoke a lot, everywhere, and don’t have a clue as to where to sit so their smoke goes in  another direction rather than right in your face.
  • More smog, especially in Hungary: Spain and Romania were not easy, but Hungary really takes the prize for lots of smog. However, even in cleaner countries like Austria and Germany the level of vehicle pollution is quite pronounced and I haven’t felt it so much since I visited…. Mexico!
  • Few napkins, hard to find: In some places they don’t even give you any, unless you ask for it!
  • Great public restrooms: Even at fast food joints. Even at gas stations. Even at the most remote gas stations. The restrooms have been almost always spotless.
  • Not as much police: By the time of this writing I have been riding for more than 3 thousand miles and I have seen cops giving out tickets only 3 times so far. Not unusual to spend an entire day without seeing any of them! I believe the quantity of cops x population here has to be much lower than in America.
  • Fewer trash cans, none in London: And when you find one, it is usually loaded up to the top.
  • Rare parking enforcement: Except for a few very touristy places I have seen very little parking enforcement, and much less parking violations.
  • Trains, metro and bus unchecked: You walk into a bus or surface train in most cities and show your pass to a machine that will give you a bip when you check in, but honestly nobody is paying any attention. I bet you can ride everywhere, including a lot of subways in several countries, without ever buying a ticket. The result: everybody buys a ticket.
  • Harder to find WiFi: Oh boy, I am soooooo missing the good old USA where WiFi is so easy to find and usually free. Here in some countries you feel like you are back to the 1980’s or something. Very hard to connect, and when you do it is rarely very fast. The top prize on this shittyness is London, where even on the very rare occasions when you find WiFi then it just doesn’t work. The free Wi-Fi always works at MacDonalds… except in Italy.
  • Cell phone service 6 years behind: It is not expensive, but it is a messy confusion of dialing prefixes, zeroes to dial here and there but not everywhere, services than work in one country and then not in another, lack of standards, and a jungle of providers and incomprehensible options that never fit you.
  • Most countries clean everywhere: Really, not even on the sides of the roads. Most countries in Europe are spotless! I have been to a few places that looks very much like back home but in general this continent is super clean.
  • Waiters just as good or bad: I used to believe that without the tradition of tipping the waiters would be worse here. Especially in France where they have quite a reputation. But no, not at all. It has been pretty much the same quality (and occasional lack of it) everywhere, just like in America.
  • Hash runs not as wild: I am so disappointed with the hash runs so far. Nearly falling asleep on them. Boring, boring, boring. In USA we go wild: Trespassing, cursing, nudity, drinking, teasing and just plain being silly. In Europe except for the little bit of beer drinking I think they would qualify as “kids friendly hashes” all the way.
  • Not as many plastic bags: In some places they ask if you want any. In others they charge you as high as 25 cents for each bag. Some places don’t even have any. I like that!
  • Usually great train services: In some countries you can set your watch by the time the train leaves.
  • Travel anonymously by train: No ID required for most land travel in Europe. In USA you can’t get on a train or bus without showing ID… which is totally unnecessary and a waste of time.
  • Some hotels don’t even check ID: Actually most places that I stayed didn’t ask for anything other than the money. In USA I can’t find a place that will allow you to check in without showing ID. Are we the f*&ˆ%$#@g Soviet Union now?
  • Less ice, sometimes none: They are just not as familiar with the concept of having ice. Also, warm beer seems to be acceptable in many households and, sadly, in several hashes. WTF!
  • Few pickup trucks: You can drive for days at a time without seeing a single one!
  • Amazing number of great roads for motorcycling: Everywhere. It is amazing. I quit taking notes about them. They are just everywhere. Just drive in any direction for a while, get lost, and chances are you will be in a fabulous road for motorcycle riding.
  • Fuel first, then pay: Just opposite of USA where you have to pay first nearly everywhere. I remember one gas station on the Blue Ridge Parkway that is different but anywhere else it is pay first. They just don’t trust you, do they? But in Europe you always fuel first. Except in Italy where often there is no attendant and they have some evil machines that eat your money and then you fuel. Need change? Not a chance.
  • Convenient ATMs everywhere. The only weird exception was Slovenia where my debit card didn’t work and I nearly ran out of money. But OK everywhere else.