Any of you who have traveled overseas know of the curious challenges that constitute a normal day abroad. Lots of times, they fall into the category of simply knowing how to use things.
So this entry is my fairly unabridged and American rant on the best and worst of what I've experienced thus far. All of it is offered in self-deprecating humor, none of it to be taken too seriously (seriously!).
Toilets. Who designed them over here? Each one, it seems, has its own, unique, incomprehensible hardware. None of it works. Is there some kind of divine incantation that I'm missing? Flush four times, they don't do what they're supposed to do. Eejit experiences abound in the loo.
Bidet. Hmmmmm... Sort of like a run-on sentence in English. Nice sentiment, but so unnecessary.... (hey, what else can you think of with messed-up English phrases?)
Screens. They don't exist in Europe. At hotels and B&B's across this fair continent, there seems to be a gentleman's agreement between the owners and the insects... the owners of the hotels do nothing, the insects enjoy themselves through the night. My question: what's in it for the owners of these establishments? Insects have no money to offer for such extravagant feasting...
Electrical outlets. Do you really believe that you can plug your razor into one of those things and not have it blow up in your hands?
Hair dryers. I can only speak for my wife here, because I don't need one (obvious hint of superiority here). Therefore, I shall trust to watching my wife's handling of said convenience. They have ranged from a tool the likes of which is a weedwacker to wall mounted ones that look, function and sound like a shop vac.
Room cards that act like circuit breakers. OK, this is a pretty sweet idea in terms of energy conservation. But you leave your room with four devices that are recharging, and you come back to: nuthin'. Thank you, green movement!
Train ticket validation. You put your money down for a trip (once you decipher the route, which is another matter). But what you are issued is illegitimate – a bastard ticket – until you stick it into one of these little boxes on the train platform. Once we forgot to do this. The conductor on the train comes by, we're freaking out 'cuz we have a useless ticket, and – guess what? – it doesn't matter!
Crosswalks. Legally, any vehicle is supposed to yield to pedestrians in these white-striped nirvanas of safety. But do you really want to play chicken with that cab driver who looks like a terrorist?
No smoking in restaurants. Yes, it's an improvement (and who knew that Ireland would lead the way in going cold turkey first?). But getting to that establishment now means you have to swim through a gauntlet of hacking, nicotine sucking humanity before you enjoy that smoke-free meal...
The best in transportation:
The Paris Métro. Would that our government administration worked like this system! If it did, politics in our country wouldn't be nearly as dysfunctional as it is right now! After a full week and dozens of jumpings on and off, we only waited four minutes max for a train. No matter what station. No matter what time of day.
The worst in transportation:
A tie here, between the bus system of Rome and Italian trains. Both were designed by someone who inhabits Dante's Seventh Ring of Hell. In Rome, buses never showed up when you wanted them (I suppose it's fair to say that the signs didn't say just when they'd show up). When they did, the horde of waiting commuters would storm the bus like it was D-Day.
And with trains – buy a first-class ticket, and even that didn't guarantee that you'd have any kind of air conditioning. People said that second-class tickets wouldn't guarantee a seat – so what's the point of a ticket?
All in all, our mantra has been: "It's an adventure! Keep laughing!"
I hope you can hear me busting a gut, as I figure out how to use the telephone....
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Location:Avenue du Bosquet,Antibes,France