We’re Not in Europe Anymore…

21 Jun

After one of our most fabulous vacations ever, Hubby and I are home.

Now THAT is a soda!

Returning to America after two weeks in Europe has been a bit of an adjustment. Europeans do many things differently and typically on a much smaller scale. Take drinks as the first example.

Restaurants don’t typically serve ice water with your meal. If you want water, you have to ask for it. When you do, you’ll have to tell the waiter whether you want it with or without gas. In other words, do you want sparkling water (i.e., carbonated) or still water (i.e., not carbonated). The water is never free.

Fountain sodas are rare, too. As are “diet” sodas. It’s not that they don’t have lower-calorie sodas, they just call them light sodas. And even in a restaurant they do not typically serve drinks with ice. If you want ice, you have to ask for ice. If you do manage to get ice, it’s usually only a few ice cubes.

You don’t realize just how much you miss fountain drinks and/or drinks with plenty of ice until they are not readily available. Not that going without is a bad thing. In fact, America’s love of soda in large quantities is one of the reasons so many Americans are overweight.

The coffee is quite different, too. If you stop at a gas station for a “takeaway” coffee, there’s one size to be had and it’s about the equivalent of an 8-ounce drink. There’s also typically a person available to make your coffee. At one point, I thought I was being asked if I wanted a big cup or a small cup when what I was really being asked was if I wanted my coffee to be served in a paper cup or a in a ceramic cup (with a saucer!). I ended up with the ceramic cup, so we had to stand around the gas station while we drank our coffee. If there isn’t a person there, you get your coffee out of a machine. Not vending machines like we have in the US (think nasty hospital coffee), but cool machines that first grind your beans and then produce a cup of coffee that is not steaming hot (i.e., unable to be sipped for at least 15 minutes), but the perfect temperature. These tiny little cups of coffee cost about 1.5 Euros, which at today’s favorable exchange rate is just under $2 US.

Not only are the sizes smaller, coffee in general is much stronger. Hubby doesn’t like strong coffee. Or at least he didn’t before the trip. When I came downstairs yesterday morning, he warned me that our coffee now tastes like “hot, dark water.” Mine was fine because I’ve always taken my coffee much stronger than him. He had to add more coffee to his pot this morning.

There were many other differences, too, which I’ll talk about in future posts. Most of the differences were good ones. Like food quality. Those people across the pond know how to eat well. That does not mean they eat a lot, it means the food quality and taste is far superior. Even food served in everyday pubs is fresher tasting and expertly prepared. Eating out will never be the same for us again.

Anyway… more on that some other time. What was not in Europe, besides our family and American friends of course, was our dogs.

Meg missed her Mama.

We left our girls in very capable hands. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, stayed with the girls at our house during the two weeks we were away. She took very good care of them and gave them plenty of attention, but they still missed us. Meg, it seems, missed me the most.

Meg, at just under 50 pounds (22.67 kg), is a bit large to be a lap dog. She doesn’t usually spend a whole lot of time on my lap. But yesterday was different.

Meg missed her Mama.

I didn’t get a lot done yesterday. I spent much of the day in my favorite chair with at least one dog, usually Meg, on my lap as I sorted through pictures. Belle and K missed me, too. In fact, K has already been sitting with me this morning for about 30 minutes in what is usually Belle’s spot. Don’t worry, though. Belle just noticed that K moved and has resumed her favorite morning position at my side.

Meg missed her Mama.

As you can plainly see from the image shown directly above, when Meg is on my lap, there isn’t much room for anything else. But I was determined to at least get some of my pictures sorted and posted.

Finally, Meg figured out how to SHARE, not hog, my chair.

So, after a while, I did have to insist that Meg share my chair instead of monopolizing my lap space. She stayed in that position for quite some time, too.

The pictures I captured during our week of motorcycle touring are now available on FLICKR. It’s going to take a bit of time to sort the images from our time visiting with friends in Switzerland and Belgium. There was a lot to see. But I hope to get them posted soon. So stay tuned!

7 Replies to “We’re Not in Europe Anymore…

  1. Back to the land of Diet Double Big Gulp fountain soda “mit ice”.

    As much as I love being home, I wish I wasn’t 🙁

  2. It sounds like you had an awesome trip – but I’m glad you guys are home! It was a rough and lonely day when I realized that both of you, my husband and my sister were all out of the country! You’re not allowed to leave the country again until someone else returns home 🙂

  3. Portion sizes and “takeaway” (vs. to-go) are two big differences, for sure, and it’s not just in Europe – it’s pretty much everywhere that’s not the US. I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your experiences. 🙂

  4. Where is the world is Kathy K?
    When are you coming back to FB? I look for you every day. I miss you!

  5. Those pictures of Meg are sooooo cute! 🙂 I had to laugh when I was reading your comments on our “drinks” culture. You know, we never even thought to ask you guys if you wanted ice with anything! Whereas we kept begging folks in the US to go easy on the ice… Different worlds, that’s for sure. Oh, and Mike – we adore that photo of you with the huge soda!

    We wish you were both still here though…

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