As much fun as traveling is, there’s nothing like coming home. I’ve been back for a week now, and I’ve been especially thankful for:
1. Free ice water. I hate drinking water, but I have never had a hard time getting it when I wanted/needed it. Overseas, drinking water is like liquid gold! I’d taken for granted how easy (and cheap!) it is to get nice, cold, icy water to drink with my meals, and how easily water is to be found anywhere. In Germany, we’d look at a restaurant menu to find these drink options: beer- 2 Euros; Coke- 3 Euros; water- 6 Euros. Even then, they usually meant carbonated water. How do people stay hydrated?
2. Free Refills. Very similar to before–I love the luxury of paying for a drink (or not, in the case of water) at a restaurant and getting to drink as much of it as I want. Rationing 6 oz. of lukewarm Coke throughout a whole meal is no fun!
3. Fresh Air. Generally I resent government intrusion into private lifestyle choices, but I have to say–I did not even realize it, but I have grown accustomed to going throughout my daily life without ever breathing in secondhand smoke. A person gets used to unlimited lungfuls of sweet air… and you don’t even notice what a treat it is until you get behind someone blowing their ciggies at you on the street.
4. Space. It’s everywhere! In my kitchen, in my bathroom sink, in my car, on the side of the road, on the sidewalk… well, you get the idea. Everything in Europe is tiny! I literally sat on the toilet lid to spit into the sink in the bathroom of our rental apartment, and I got the impression that that was pretty much status quo. It was like life in an IKEA demo flat. I like walking three abreast down the sidewalk and not having someone fall into the oncoming traffic. I like riding high in my roomy SUV. I like walking through doorways that wouldn’t knock a hat off of my head.
5. Home cooking. I’ve never been an adventurous eater, and even traveling to a church potluck for lunch is a stretch for me. So eating in a place with different normals is always an adventure! Having TH in tow makes me even more sensitive to strange tastes and smells. I’m embarrassed to remember how giddy and excited I got on the drive to Munich when we stopped to eat at a McDonald’s. Chicken nuggets! French fries! Just like I remembered them! It’s nice to be back in familiar territory.
6. Parking spaces. The exercise was great, but it’s also nice to be able to drive straight to my destination and park ten feet away from the front door. Without worrying about getting a ticket or having to parallel park.
7. The English Language. It’s empowering to be able to read menus, road signs, advertisements, and instructions.
8. Radio. Sorry, Ace of Bass is soooo 80’s. That was the only sort of American music we could find to listen to on our car trips. No wonder people still hate Americans.
9. Not the metric system. No more kilometers, meters, or liters! Back to measurements that make sense to me!
10. No Dogs Allowed. As much as I love my two pooches, it’s nice to go shopping or eat at a restaurant without someone else’s pet underfoot. While all of these shop dogs were very well behaved, it was weird to see them out and about like their human masters.
*Notice that my list does not include history, architecture, tradition, scenery, or recycling. Those (minus the recycling) were the highlights of the trip for me, and even my dear old Waco, Texas can’t hold a candle to its German counterparts in those areas. Maybe in 2000 years.