Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Europe 2005 - Living in Southern Europe

Radio-I have been surprised by how much English music I hear. We can usually find a radio station that will play 2-3 songs I recognize. It is true that bands from the 80's are popular here but it is their new stuff that is getting played.( Bon Jovi, REM, Pet Shop Boys)

TV-when we have stayed in hotels we flip through the channels to see what is showing. I am amazed at the number of American shows that have been dubbed. This explains why everyone knows so much about American culture but we know so little about any others. I don't think I have ever watched a dubbed TV sitcom. Even really bad shows like "The Nanny" show up here.

Driving-In southern Italy the driving is very stressful but even during rush hour traffic moves faster then I have seen anywhere else. People pass into oncoming traffic with much narrower margins of error but I really don't see any other way. If you try and drive completely in the law by staying in your lane or following the speed limit then you will cause an accident since the local drivers expect you to drive like them. It is weird to see cops just standing there as scooters race through red lights though.
So far we have put 6500 kilometers on the odometer. It does not seem like it has been boring putting so many miles behind us. Luckily unlike driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas for the 100th time we really don't know what is around the next corner, and there are some really eye-opening things that we do see sometimes when turning a corner.
One of the things that catches everyone off guard is we are driving a French car but speak no French. At border crossings the guards can't figure out why Americans would have a car registered in France.

Rest stops-Europeans on vacation usually camp since tourists drive up the cost of hotels. This means driving. We see a lot of families out on blankets having picnics. Smart parents brought jump ropes for the kids while they rested under the trees.

Fountains- In Italy there are springs throughout the cities. Its the same water that feeds all the springs as the fountains so a lot of them part of the fountain is for drinking water. If it was not for these springs heat stroke would be a problem. All you need is a small water bottle and you can dump out the hot water at every spring and refill it. All the springs have the ability to cover the spigot with your finger and the water will shoot out the top like a water fountain.

Food- the big surprise food that we like here is from the grocery store. Blood orange juice, I don't know how to explain it but it kind of like a wild orange juice. L. and I have found it in all the countries and wish we could get it in the USA. I have only seen blood oranges there in boutique health food stores.

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