“I’m glad I still have the ability to tour in Europe. I do love it.”
~ James Taylor
While we’d been to Europe a few times while Mike was still working, we were really just tourists—in one day and out 10-to-14 days later. After Mike retired, we went in search of my grandparents’ birthplace in Italy. We found it and spent most of the rest of that month, we traveled the country, still tourists. We went back a few times more over a three-year period, and even though we spent six-to-nine weeks each time, I still looked at everything through the glazed eyes of a tourist.
It was after we’d spent about nine weeks between France and Italy in 2013 that I made mental lists of why I could or couldn’t live in Europe, and I shared my reasons on an old blog. As I am a few days from leaving for Italy, I thought I would share those two posts on this blog. At some point during my journey, I’ll re-think it all and update.
Europeans love dogs. I know some of you are probably thinking, “Is she nuts? Because Europeans like dogs she could live in Europe?” Hello, those of you thinking that. If you know me at all, you know I am nuts about dogs and that would be a most important factor for me.
“May I take a photo of your dog?” I often ask the canine’s biped companion.
“She has more pictures of the dogs than she does of me,” my husband tells the owners. I roll my eyes and shake my head. “She does,” he continues.
Dogs are so intuitive and, except for that Brittany Spaniel that nipped me in Spoleto, very friendly and open. They’re also an opening to talk to their humans. “What a cute dog,” I usually say to the owner. “May I pet him/her?” Having done his/her job, the canine ambassador enjoys a few pats on the head, and the human conversation can turn from dogs to anything else since both humans relax.
The only negative I see in Europe is the same as the one over here: People do not pick up after their dogs. That, of course, is not the dog’s fault.
The Outdoor Cafes
Yes. Yes. I made fun of the French eating and drinking outside when it was freezing and/or raining, but I love cafes. I’ll take the cozy, warm ones in inclement weather, and the bright, outdoorsy ones in warm weather. Truth be told, we sat outside a few times when the weather was a bit cooler than I can normally stand, but most of the cafes had heaters, so our coffee didn’t freeze before we finished it.
“Do you want to go get coffee?” Mike asked me the other night.
“Where?” There are four Starbucks within about a mile of our house, and I love Starbucks. However, while they all offer outdoor seating, they lack that certain ambiance of which I’m speaking. (Note: Interestingly, the Starbucks we saw in Paris did not have outdoor seating. Go figure.)
“One of your two offices,” he answered me. Smart man. The two places of which he spoke are a few miles from the house and very close to each other, and they are a little more “European” than the others.
Off we went to Sambalatte. It’s not Cafe Ovidio or Boulangerie St. Antoine or Caffe degli Artisti, but it will stand in for me while we’re here.
I love train travel. I know we have Amtrak in the US, but it’s never taken off the way trains in other countries have. Of course, the US is so much larger than individual European countries, but we found it so nice to hop on the train and let them “drive” us all over: Paris to Avignon to Torino to Spoleto to Sulmona to Bologna. Of course, we also trained it to other towns near where we were staying.
“But how much did it cost you to go places?” one of my friends asked recently.
“It depended on distance,” I told her, “but, for example, Spoleto to Assisi was about 3 euro. Spoleto to Sulmona was 20 euro.” A car would have been much more expensive, and we’d have to find parking spaces, gas, and the rental agencies (not an easy thing to do).
I’m excitedly waiting for the high-speed railway that will connect Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Officials keep saying they’re going to build it by XXXX. Of course, when we lived here in the 90s, officials said the railway would be operational by 2005.
As I said, I’m excitedly waiting….
Next time I’ll give you five reasons why I couldn’t live abroad permanently.