Sunday, November 7, 2010

Please, Europe...Teach us..

I know that you might think I am negative Nancy...talking about Europe like that.
I appreciate that most of you are affirming that you understand that being out of your comfort zone, especially in the midst of emotional crisis...can be tough!
So anyway...
I feel like I need to give Europe it's fair credit.
There are so many awesome things about traveling and experiencing different cultures.
Some things I especially appreciate...
1.  Italian Gelato..the best ice cream in the whole world!  Creamy and dreamy and amazing. It can be found in the states in some fun random shops.  Very amazing.  Brandon would get some more fried food or a drink and I would go get gelato.  Ah-maze-ing. Straciatella. I never learned to say it. But it was chocolate-y pieces in smooth dreamy vanilla goodness.
2.  Active Lifestyles.  Every kid in Europe (okay, so not every kid, but many kids) ride their bike to the train and then take the train so they can walk to school.  Most kids in America walk out their front door to the bus stop or get a ride to school.  (--->I did!)  Adults take the train most places they go and walk almost everywhere. Most people have one car per family or use their cars as a secondary mode of transportation.  I really appreciate that! I wish our culture was more 'on the move'.  Every person we met in Switzerland was a professional athlete.  The lady who drove us from Switzerland to Italy was on the swiss ski team (and has been to the X games several times) and she was going to Italy to meet her new sponsor and pick up some gear. :)  The level of activity is ridiculous. No wonder they have no gyms!!! In my opinion, you have to be really intentional to be active in the US.

3.  Really Tasty treats like Nutella and Swiss Chocolate. I realize that you can get these things in the US...but I really loved being in the place where they originated.  And it made it easier to justify buying them ;)

4.  The mountains in Switzerland.  They were gorgeous. Majestic.  I had already been there twice...but they take my breath away.  To drive through the swiss run off the mountain top in the swiss alps...just incredible.  I have jumped out of a plane at 10,000ft.  I wasn't that far from that height on a MOUNTAIN!! That just blows my mind!!

5. The cows in the road.  I mean....can you imagine seeing cows in the road in the US?? Everyone would just be honking their horns and probably running into cows all the time.  In Switzerland especially, they just let the cows wander the roads.  It was pretty amazing to see people waiting patiently for the cow herder (is that a real thing?) to walk down the road at the end of the line of cows.  And they all wore cow bells. So you literally heard a little symphony of bells as the cows meandered down the road. Just charming.

6.  The ability to relax.  Coffee breaks. Siestas. No one in a hurry.  In Spain, we got a wake up call when we realized that everything shuts down at 2pm and doesn't open back up until 8pm.  Brandon LOVED this.  That is his nap time too :)  In Italy, it was very much the same.  In switzerland, they stayed awake, but they took breaks.  My paragliding pilot spent all day taking me up the mountain paragliding, and then he drove us through the town, showing us around.  He asked if we wanted to get coffee. We said okay, so we sat there and had coffee for about an hour.  Then he drove us to find a hostel to stay in.  This guy was losing money...but he didn't care!!  We like this lifestyle!!

7.  Style.  I saw lots of camel colored boots and bags there. So guess what I had to get when I got back? I think you guessed it. Beautiful Steve Madden boots and a great bag at the fossil outlet.  Of course walking around in my wrinkly clothes and backpack, I didn't feel real stylish, but I still had fun seeing their style!!
This is the view out of the back of the cargo can see another plane in the bottom right corner.  The cargo straps are holding our luggage in :)
8.  Free military space a flights.  I didn't mind waiting for flights if they were free. That is a really nice way to go...especially if you're not on a tight time schedule!!  We really loved meeting some awesome retirees and a couple younger people too!  And some great experiences! I got to fly on a C17, a C130 and a C5.  These are huge cargo planes. Brandon got to show me how it works when he jumps out...where our friend Mike jumped out after the red light went on (into the trees)....lots of fun things. Oh...and the bathroom in the C130...the best part!! It was a fold down platform in the middle of the plane, in full sight of the entire plane. There was a little curtain you could hold around you, but the guys could see over the top. Very awkward.  :)
Yes, he is using the bathroom...
I hope this makes you understand that I'm not COMPLETELY ungrateful for amazing experiences.  And I can appreciate some really fun things.  I was told by a sweet friend that my last Europe post "was pretty negative".  I promise to be authentic... :)

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  1. I have not been to Europe, but my husband is Canadian, and Canada is very European in some ways. Funny that you had gelato for the first time over there and I had it for the first time at a Canadian wedding. It was vanilla but it was inside some sort of frozen outer shell that looked like an apple. It was YUMMY. My Canadian friends were the first to introduce me to Nutella, too. At first I could not imagine spreading it on toast like they do - something seemed gross about chocolate toast, but it is quite good! Also, where my husband's Dad lives, and in Canada in general, they have always seemed a little "behind the times" to me. Reading your post, though, I think maybe it is not that they are behind the times - they are just not as interested in moving as fast as we Americans do. My inlaws come to my house and want to sit in the backyard on the patio for 7 straight days. We NEVER watch TV or go anywhere. They don't eat much, they drink loads of tea, coffee, and beer. And they smoke cigarettes - something the Euros need to move forward on and quit . :) *Disclaimer: of course I am speaking in general terms about a select group of people in a select area. Not tryin' to judge all- just sayin'! :)

  2. Oh I wish I could go there some day. I was born in Germany while my Dad was stationed there. We lived there for a little bit and then returned to the states. What an experience!! The pictures are breath taking!!

  3. I just found your blog and I have to say ~ this brings back some MEMORIES! My husband was in the army and we had the MOST AMAZING experiences because of it. He was stationed in Germany for 3 years and we got to travel, do space A flights to Australia, ski the alps (he actually convinced me that there were bunny hills to LEARN on up there ~ um, NOT!).

    We met the most amazing people, learned languages, traveled, and most importantly ~ lived in another culture ~ one in which gave us some very good insights to our culture back home. We both miss those days:) And actually talk about living overseas once again someday.

    I too have jumped out of an airplane (skydiving) but would have LOVED to experience what you did running and jumping off a mountain.

    It is Breathtaking how God's creation is so amazing and diverse, thank you for sharing your photos!

  4. Yes-there are no bunny hills in the Alps...not the best place for a rookie skier to learn-but I did! :) Love your pictures-they actually do have lots of healthy food-and you'll notice a big difference in their portion sizes! I am surprised Brando found so much fried food! And the Spanish siestas! Of course Nutella and gelato...nuf said! :) I enjoyed both posts on Europe-it's a great place-but there's nothing wrong w/remembering home is great, too! :) And we stopped for cows many times-your pics bring back great memories w/great friends. I love the pics you took of Brandon, but don't tell him just in case he gets a big head! :) Love you sweet friend!

  5. If you don't want to stop for cows in Switzerland, don't travel around 5 p.m. That's the time the farmer will bring his cows back from the pastures into the farm to milk them. You understand now why milk is expensive but also so tasty here ? ;-)