Monday, November 2, 2009

I'm not in America anymore

Since I started my travels, I've been taking notes on ways I know I'm not still in America (as if that would be hard to figure out!). Here's what I've come up with so far.

Barcelona edition:
- People are eating dinner and/or getting ready to go out at 11pm on a Wednesday night.
- There are no SUVs here! The biggest vehicle I remember seeing was a Jeep.
- I saw someone texting as they were driving a scooter. (Not that this couldn't happen in America, it probably does, but the traffic in Barcelona is a bit more chaotic.)

Prague edition:
- Beer and wine are often cheaper than soda. Not sure why, but guess which one I was drinking? :-)
- Sidewalks are never plain concrete. They are always decorative in some way. (This was true in Barcelona, too. In every city I've been in so far, actually.)

Athens edition:
- People can and do smoke everywhere - bars, restaurants, airports - no where was off limits it seemed.
- Scooters and motorcycles have no particular driving lane. They can and do drive between cars and wherever else they want. It's common practice for scooters to pull up to the head of the line in traffic, often sitting right under the traffic light so that drivers have to turn their head to the side to see when they have the green. (I asked Evangelos about this because I told him this wasn't legal in the US and he asked what the point of having a motorbike was then, if not to manuever more easily in traffic.)
- Stray dogs! They're everywhere. The government tags and leashes them to show that they've been vaccinated against rabies and people often feed them and take care of them. It's like they are the public's pets. There are stray cats, too, but they're not liked as much.
- Beggars appear to always be diseased, disabled, or deformed in some way.
- You have to flip a switch to turn on the hot water and then wait about 10 minutes before taking a shower.
- Worry/stress beads. Greek men (and only the men) have beads that kind of look like rosary beads that they play with. It was described to me as just something that men do. I have no idea why it's limited to men.

Istanbul edition:
- I walked into a restaurant that essentially had a home kitchen, complete with 2 resident cats.
- Everyone walks in the streets instead of the sidewalk because the sidewalks are often very narrow and/or crooked. Cars give a little honk and people move to the side.
- Toilet paper doesn't go in the toilets. There are special tp trash cans situated next to the toilet for paper disposal. (Also true in Athens.)
- Stray cats! Same as Athens above except in Turkey they like the cats more than the dogs.

I'm sure there are plenty of other examples that I'm forgetting. I also have a few examples that are, uh, too-racy-for-general-public-consumption that I can share if you're interested.


  1. I'm interested! In the raciness, of course. That's cool how they treat their stray dogs in Athens. That motorcycle/scooter maneuver is called "lane-splitting" and it is actually legal to some degree in some states, like California, but I think only on highways. I remember people doing that while I was sitting in traffic once on my approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. My first inclination, of course, was to open my door and stop them! I'm glad to see you posting again. I'll look at your pics later. Love ya!

  2. Wow. Huge post! Thanks!
    I've got lots of thoughts on it, but will limit it to this...

    Beggers. Imagine that. People that are unable to work asking for a handout as opposed to what we have here - lazy people asking for handouts. I'd be inclined to help them (not so inclined with our lazy beggars).

    Scooters. Lane splitting! How Californian!

    Hot water. I know how that works and that it is very common in Europe. I think it's primitive :-)

    TP in the trash can. EWWWW. Really, really primitive. Not to mention unsanitary, unsightly and downright disgusting. Germs people! Germs!

  3. Very informative. I think that I prefer the American hot water, toilets etc and prefer early food and early to bed. Must be getting old or as your Dad says getting????Love, Me

  4. The TP ın the trash can ıs more because the plumbıng just can't handle the paper. Wıthout beıng too graphıc, I thınk that ıt mıght be customary to shower or otherwıse clean up wıth soap and water after goıng #2. But ıt's kınd of a delıcate sıtuatıon and how exactly do you ask your (male) host what you should do?!

  5. I guess flushing tampons is completely out of the question?

  6. I haven't had to deal wıth that sıtuatıon just yet, but I ımagıne that no, tampons don't go ın the toılet eıther. Hmmm...