5 Reasons I Couldn’t Live in Europe (Redux)

“Be willing to be uncomfortable.
Be comfortable being uncomfortable.
It may get tough, but it’s a small
price to pay for living a dream.”
~ Peter McWilliams
As I mentioned yesterday, I discovered six-year old posts that I wrote discussing why, at that time, I thought I could or couldn’t live in Europe. I should add before I re-post the cons that there are several things I should point out first.
On our previous trip to Europe (2011), we spent two weeks in Abruzzo so I could do more research into my grandparents’ lives before we headed to Vienna and Prague.  While we were in Vienna for three days, we spent a little over two weeks in Prague as I was studying at Charles University. From the moment we stepped foot in Vienna, I felt like a fish out of water.

As beautiful as both of those cities were, I never felt comfortable in them. While I could understand a few of the German and Czech signs, most of the words a bunch of strokes scratched on paper and metal. Worse, the spoken languages were strange, coarse sounds that reminded me too much of my paternal grandparents. (You can read a little on them here.) The food, with gravy covering every thing we ordered, didn’t sit well with me, and I couldn’t get used to coffee costing two-to-three times as much as beer. The worst thing, though, was the robbery/burglary two nights before we left for home. (If I haven’t bored you with that story, it’s here and here.)
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Novelia
It was with a lot of trepidation that I returned to Europe with Mike in 2013, but except for the weather, our weeks in France and Italy were fine. We stayed in Sulmona, the “big” city near my grandparents’ village for about three weeks, and my new-found friend, Novelia, showed us an apartment that her brother-in-law was selling.  Mike and I both loved it—he a little more than I—and it got us both thinking about living there—he more than I at that time.
That is, as you might guess, why I started thinking and, eventually, writing the two posts I’m re-posting this weekend.

June 2013

“It would be fun,” my other half said to me while we were still in Italy, “to live here for a few months a year.”  I stared at him.  Speaking was the guy who had balked at staying there two months . . . the guy who didn’t want to stay in one place (during this trip) more than a few weeks because he thought he’d get bored . . . the guy who is Mr. Practical to my Mrs. Impractical. . .  “What do you think?”
What did I think?  I thought he was nuts, and that wasn’t because of what he posed, just that he posed it.  As I said, he’s usually the practical one, and I come up with these hair-brained adventures.  Once in a while, though, he surprises me.

The truth of the matter, though, is that we probably could live in Europe semi-permanently . . . or even permanently if not for a few minor inconveniences.  Taking out of consideration the distance from Jason, our families and friends (and the cost), I struggled to come up with five reasons I couldn’t live in Europe permanently.

*My* Dog

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I would have to take Riley with me if we were moving.  That isn’t as much a problem as how to get him there.  While most of Europe doesn’t have a quarantine law for pets, the big hassle would be transporting him on a plane.  I would never put him in cargo for such a long flight.  That means, I would have to shove his chunky butt into a carry-on case, and while he fits, it’s more like a sausage casing which, considering his porky little self, would be appropriate.

Once I solved *that* problem, I’d have to figure out where to put him while on the plane.  If you saw my post about our flight home, you know that we are now spoiled since we flew business class.  The big problem with that is that there is no place to stow a case during take-off and landing except in the overhead bin.  While he’d fit, I don’t know if the airlines would permit it.

Don’t worry, Little Dude.  We’ll figure it out.

 Uncovered Food in Markets & Stores

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Spices in a market in Avignon

It drives me nuts to see uncovered food for sale in markets, stores, and groceries in Europe.  The photo above is one I took at the spice market in Avignon where, honestly, I did buy spices.  However, what I bought was bottled not sitting out where kids could put their hands in it (Saw it.), people could bend down and put their noses right next to it (Saw it.), and flies could land on it to enjoy a veritable feast of spicy goodness (Saw it.).

The pink cookies (below) were in a shop in Avignon, too, although we saw the same things all over France and Italy.  Same problems as above would keep me from buying them, although I’d have to add in grown-ups touching the cookies to pick the “BEST” one.  And, then I wonder how the heck old the cookies are and how long they’ve been sitting there.  Ugh.
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Cookies in Avignon
All that said, this is also really not too big of a problem for me since I just would never buy food that is sitting out like that.

Crappy Weather

It’s going to be 117 in Las Vegas this weekend, and I’m thrilled.  I can deal with heat.  I can deal with cooler temps (NOT COLD ONES!).  I can even deal with a little rain once a year or so, but I can’t stand a lot of rain or cold or snow or humidity or any combination of them.
“Italy must have agreed with you,” Dr. Paul Emery said to me when I went in for a check-up last week.   All the test results were good, and my blood pressure and weight were down.  “You have a certain glow now.”
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Rainy day in Spoleto
Of course I have a glow.  I’ve been in the sun everyday since we returned from the perpetual shower we encountered everywhere we went in Europe.  That’s not to say we don’t have crappy weather in Las Vegas.  We do.  It was cloudy here on Monday, and I think it rained one day in February.  But we don’t have mudslides, volcanic eruptions, wild fires, tornados, hurricanes, major earthquakes, floods, snow and/or that last more than a few hours, or humidity that is so high it will glue your clothes to your skin.
I realize there is no way humans can control weather . . . unless you consider the fact that you can choose to live somewhere where the worst weather forecast calls for sunny days and record-breaking temperatures.

Electricity

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Electrical outlets

If anything drove me nutty during our trip this year, it was the electricity service in Europe, particularly Italy.  I already told you about the gazillion adapters one must have even with appliances or objects made in Europe for European plugs, so I won’t go into that again.    (If you missed it, you can read about it here.)

But, for the love of God, please standardize yourselves.  The US, Canada, Mexico and a good percentage of South America all use the same voltage and plugs. Combined, we’re a heck of a lot larger than all of Europe put together, and we’ve been able to come to an agreement.  Italy, are you listening?

Post Offices

Americans complain a lot about the post offices here.  Heck, if you live in our area, our post office is about 8 miles away (There are two a lot closer, but heaven forbid the government should make things easy.), and it is always always always packed with customers waiting in line to go to one of two manned windows.  Think that’s bad?  Think again.

“Laurie, is there a post office near here?” I asked our Spoleto host one afternoon.  “I need to get a box to mail some stuff home.”

He told us how to get to the closest one and added, “It’s quite busy, though.”  He told us about another one that was almost as close.

“Is service faster in that one?” I asked.  Silly me.

“No,” he replied.  “It’s worse.  If you go there, plan on taking a lunch.” (Hello! Why even bother mentioning it then?)  

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Waiting and waiting at the Spoleto PO

He is right, though.  We’ve had to deal with post offices in Italy a few times over the years, and they are all the same. There are three machines from which you can take a number, so you have to decide what you want to do.  Cash a check or money order?  Box A.  Buy stamps  or mail something?  Box B.  Do something else that I couldn’t figure out?  Box C.  Do any combination of the three?  Good luck.

So what do you do in the post office that is so maddening?

Take your number, sit, and watch the displays sssslllloooowwwwllllyyy move when a patron who was smart enough to get there earlier than you finally finishes and leaves.  Try not to fall asleep while the heat inside the building increases in proportion to the number of people (A LOT!) waiting in the lobby. Wonder what is so complicated that it takes every customer about 10-20 minutes to complete his or her transaction. Glare at the man who has burped loud enough to wake the dead.  Jump up and yell as soon as you see your number finally appear on the screen and stamp on feet or jump over chairs to get to the counter so the clerk who is lucky enough to get you doesn’t think you aren’t there and moves on to the next number.  Thirty seconds of hand-signaling and broken Italian later, the clerk sends you on your way without performing a transaction and takes the next number.

Of course, I could fix this one, too.  I’d never mail anything.  End of story.

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In Barcelona

Bottom line, I could live with most of these things by simply avoiding them.  Heck, we’ve moved all over the country and adapted.  Europe wouldn’t be that big of a stretch.  The weather is a big issue, though.  It’s one reason we moved back to Vegas, so you know we put a lot of importance on good weather.  Sigh.

Any of you have reasons you couldn’t move somewhere?

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