We're Coming Home

Friday, April 01, 2011 Road Junkies 1 Comments

Well, after a month of this travel in Europe, we've pretty much had our fill. Things just are too strange over here, and we think it's time for us to come back to the good old U S of A. Call us crazy, but consider the following.

1. Everybody over here speaks a foreign language.
How can so many people go so wrong?  Why, even the little children over here speak foreign languages.  You would think the parents would at least make sure that their children knew how to speak English, wouldn't you?  And the really weird thing is we often discover that many of these people actually can speak English.  Then why in the world are they speaking some foreign tongue like Italian?  Even the doggone dogs speak a foreign language.  We talked to this pup for 15 minutes in English and she never moved a muscle.  Then some guy came along, said something to her in Italian, and she hopped up and walked away with him.

2.  The food over here is funny.
Take Italy, for example.  Now, when we're at home, we seek out Italian restaurants because we just love the food.  But here in Italy, we haven't found a single Carrabba's or Macaroni Grill restaurant.  Not even an Olive Garden!  Where in the heck are we supposed to get some real Italian food?  Not only that, we haven't found grits on the breakfast menu since we left Atlanta.  And forget finding essentials like ketchup on the table.  It's not happening.  Even the ice cream over here is messed up.  They don't even call it ice cream; it's gelato.  Huh?  Do you think they meant to say jello?


3.  The road signs here are confusing.
This wasn't a very big deal to us as long as we were traveling by train, because then it was the train engineer's problem. Since we rented a car, however, we have been made aware of what an issue it is.  The biggest problem, of course, is that the signs are all in a foreign language.  Just last week, we decided to drive to the lovely hill town of San Gimignano.  We were rolling along just fine listening to our good old American Garmin GPS that we brought with us from home when all of a sudden we found ourselves in a construction zone with nothing but dead ends.  Later, we discovered that there were signs posted about this, but instead of just letting you know there was a DETOUR, the sign said Deviazione.  How in the world are people supposed to know that means to go another way?


4.  The whole measurement system here is messed up.
From the distances posted on road signs to the speed limit, to weighing fruit at the grocery store, everything is screwy.  Even the temperature is all wrong.  One morning we heard that the high temperature for the day was going to be 15 degrees.  Well, we layered up, wearing just about all the clothes we brought since we don't have heavy winter coats with us.  Wouldn't you know, we just about burned up when the high temperature was actually 60 degrees in real temperature (Fahrenheit)?

5.  Everything here is so old.
OK, it's true, there are a few new buildings, but so many buildings here are totally old.  And like the one in this photo, they are just a mess.  This kind of thing would not be allowed to happen in America.  Someone in charge would order a brickmason or plasterer or someone to come in and smooth out this jumble.  In Atlanta, we'd have an even better solution.  In no time, a wrecking ball would reduce that old building to rubble as the architects planned a shiny new glass and chrome replacement.  Believe it or not, even the stuff they have in museums here is old.

6.  The cars are just too small here.
Our rental car is a tiny little Peugeot 206+.  We almost never have to fill it up with gas, and it takes up almost no room in a parking lot, making it very difficult to find.  It doesn't even use up its own lane on narrow winding roads.  Not only that, it really limits the number of souvenirs we can buy and carry around.  We really miss our Honda minivan.

7.  The money here is very weird.
Instead of the currency being all nice and green (it's good enough for the dollar, isn't it?), bills of different values here are different colors.  To make matters even worse, they're different sizes.  How are you supposed to keep your wallet nicely organized when the small bills get lost in the middle of those big ones?  And then there are the coins.  Just too darn many different denominations.  When you're trying to get the right amount of money to use the toilet, you do not need to be sorting among 8 different coin denominations.  You could have an accident-- a smelly and embarrasing one.

8.  They don't celebrate American holidays.
What really tipped the balance for us in our decision to go home was when we learned that they don't celebrate American holidays here in Europe.  No Thanksgiving, no Fourth of July, no Super Bowl Sunday, no Columbus Day.  And no MLK Day?  Even Arizona finally got on board with that one.  But most importantly, they don't celebrate April Fools Day.

Oops!  Wait a minute.  Correction:  April Fool's is celebrated in Europe, and yes, even by us.  So we're staying here to enjoy it.  Hope you have a  Happy April Fools Day where you are, too.