Friday, August 21, 2009

Things We Appreciate More After Missing Them Abroad And Stuff We Miss

Before we get to the main topic, I'd like to share one of the few video clips we had on the laptop in Spain. It's not really great when you are about to get on a plane, but it's humorous anyhow. Here's the SNL take on JetBlue Flight 292, which successfully landed after a twisted landing gear was stuck and after passengers were able to watch news channels showing the plane in peril.

For the real story, including a link at the bottom to video of the actual landing, see:

Back to the task at hand:

These are not really meant to be digs against Europe. They have things we don't have.

What We Missed From Home
  • Our friends. This is obvious but gets to be very important the longer we are gone.
  • Central air conditioning. This might be just making a virtue out of a necessity in hot, muggy Durham, but parts of Europe get hot also, especially public transit.
  • Cheap gas. Even at $2.50 a gallon, it was a bargain compared to around $6 a gallon in Spain, which has cheap gas relative to the rest of Europe
  • Cheap English language newspapers. Getting a newspaper every day for 5 weeks would have cost me more than my 52 week subscription at home
  • Cherry Coke and Dr. Pepper- they just don't have them anywhere I looked in Europe.
  • Free Refills on soda and free water
  • Easily findable public restrooms and water fountains (although Rome was unusually good about about decorative and potable water fountains)
  • Posted and usually long operating hours on businesses
  • An airport, RDU, that's big enough to have many destinations but small enough to forego the need for huge walks and tram rides to get around
  • Cheap prepaid phones and plans. $20 at Target buys you a phone and
  • $20 more buys you 200 minutes for a month, with coast to coast roaming (with Virgin Mobile). $50 buys you unlimited domestic calling. I couldn't find anywhere as good a deal in Europe, and it would be a high cost for people to call me. It was cheaper to call America 3000 miles away than to call a cell phone 1 mile away.
  • Internet everywhere, usually easy and free. I changed the oil today and even the mechanic had two free computers and free wifi, along with free restrooms and water.
  • and, which are restricted to the US. (What's that first W in www?)
  • Pharmacies with more than just medicines. They're everywhere, but they won't sell you a Coke or a snack
  • Pay at the pump gas stations most everywhere. Having to guess at how much gas you will use, then paying, pumping, and getting a refund because you guessed wrong is awkward, especially in another language and in Liters.
  • Quick, no signature credit card payments on small items (my $1.50 Target snack bar popcorn was completely paid for by the time the server got the popcorn). This means carrying less cash and less fooling around with coins. Plus Schwab Visa will give me 1.5 cents for using for my card.
  • Having the reverse gear in a predictable place on a manual transmission car. I eventually learned the Renault way in Spain, so I almost shifted into reverse on I-85 in Durham because I was accustomed to that spot being sixth gear on the Renault.

What We'll Miss From Europe
  • Small easily, walkable city feel in Albano and Genova

  • Gorgeous, huge, temperate beach walking distance away
  • A wide variety of olives
  • Cheap fresh pastries
  • The sounds of kids playing in the courtyard and pool
  • Having friends and family next to us in the apartment
  • Sangria

  • Fresh baguettes a few minutes walk away
  • The ability to quickly hope on a bus or metro
  • A huge walkable and explorable city
  • A view from of the back window of the Seine and peaceful Lavacourt and the church out the front window
  • Fanta Citron
  • Constantly seeing new sites everywhere
  • Dry heat. You can exit the shower without' getting instantly soaked by the humidity. I took a walk Tuesday night at 79 degrees, and I still was soaked at the end.

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