FUNNY THINGS ABOUT EUROPE: (cont’d)
Speaking of appreciating North America… go to Amsterdam downtown (yes I keep referring to Amsterdam as my European reference because I am IN the XXX city now!) and walk around… you’ll see some shops, cute streets, canals, some cute small mini town squares here and there…lots of people on bikes,
lots of tall people… however, what you won’t see any of is benches… try to find a bench in Amsterdam, I looked for one for 45 mins… it wouldn’t have been the end of the world if during my hunt I had found a café, or internet cyber café, or pastry shop, or restaurant, or ANYTHING open before 9:30am!!! Listen, if you have ever complained about Canadian stores not opening early enough or not closing late enough, hop on a plane and come and try to do your groceries or your shopping on this side of the world…. By 10:00am the main street shops and restaurants were still OPENING their doors (I’m talking about major chains like Mango, H&M, local chain cafes, McDonalds…etc…) imagine a downtown McDonald’s that doesn’t open before 10am… wow… they really must party hard here, because on a Thursday morning, after the initial 8am office rush through the public transit system (and the bike racks getting filled), the city was dead for 2 hours until the Red Light District party animals woke up! Side note to add to this point: WIFI is also considered a luxury, and IF you find a café that has it, good luck with the connection quality… but they DO sell marijuana in coffee shops.. OK I’ll give them that, but I don’t smoke so…
Well, overall, after a quick 12-hr stay in Amsterdam, I can resume the stark differences between the North American and European worlds as being:
Well-organized airport access: (i.e. There is a 10-min comfortable, affordable, train ride to downtown Amsterdam that runs every 15 mins all day every day, and this I know for a fact applies to most major European cities). Dress: people actually take the time to dress fashionably, whether hot or cold, men and women… Public transport exists: people bike to work and take public transport or drive tiny cars…everything is accessible by walk, bus or train or bike… Languages: and almost everybody speaks 2 languages or more…LUXURIES? WIFI along with park benches, free bathrooms and early opening hours! Oh yeah, and only in Europe can you ask where the cute woman sitting next to you in the plane is from and what she does and get an answer like: “I’m from Hungary, and I’m a porn model”…. (this actually happened to me last year… its no surprise though, I think Hungary has the highest per capita for female porn models in the world!)… Costs: but damn things are expensive in Europe!
North America SUMMARY:
Well-disorganized airport access and road system, (get a tourist to drive around Montreal with no GPS, and see how far he gets before getting lost or breaking a traffic rule…)… or try to get to Montreal downtown (without paying $45 for a cab) using the bus that takes 30-40mins to reach MTL… first of all there is one only every 30 mins, and second of all the bus stops at only 3 places: get this: Chateau Champlain, Four Seasons, and the Berri Bus Station….. I get the Berri station stop, that makes sense, but the other two? What is this, we deliver our tourists at the two hotels that ended up paying the Airport Authority to drop off innocent tourists instead of taking them to where they NEED to go? Here’s another good moment for a “wow” … I am speechless….. how can someone who just got off the plane get to let’s say, Peel and Sherbrooke, or Atwater, or Parc avenue, or St-Laurent…(for your foreigners, those are major arteries) ? And we expect our economy to grow to one day compete with the G8 countries? Thank God for our wood and water and mines, we can’t even get foreign businessmen downtown without throwing through the Chateau Champlain lobby first…Ok moving on (I have a tendency to develop subjects to a level of detail some would say is a little too much in case you hadn’t noticed…).. Speaking of transportation though, one last point, at least Montreal is not as bad as the US… I was in FL visiting the Mom, and I needed to buy a book and some Soy Milk…. We took the car and got back home 2 hrs later…. By the time you change lanes 6 times to get off the road and into the Price Costco-sized parking lots and enter the Zellers-size stores… the week is gone (but you had enough choice of things to buy to feed and dress and entertain an army!”…language-wise, we’re lucky that we speak 2 languages in Montreal, even though half of the population thinks either English or French should be the norm so the other gets eliminated… I don’t need to share my thoughts on that do I? LUXURIES? Good beer, public transport, tall people (OK more like tall women, not that we want more tall women though!) cool small cars, bike racks, snow-free or almost snow-free winters, (yeah yeah I know FL doesn’t get any snow), …and finally Costs: damn things are cheap compared to Europe!
Ok I’m outta here, my fight is taking off!
Feb 26, 2009