When I first moved to California, I heard people say, “Why travel? We have it all here.”
I wanted to say, “Well I feel sorry for you. You must be blind.”
I’d like to focus on what traveling and seeing the world does for me, and share my perceptions and some cross-cultural comparisons. (For a quick sightseeing trip of Big Ben, the Natural History Museum, Oxford Street, Picadilly Circus and South Kensington tube station, please my Flip video.)
Traveling around London is easy with an Oyster card. You can catch a tube as many times as you wish. I’m happy to inform you that the English are extremely polite and patient. Even young women offer their seats to elderly women–not me yet– on the tube.
A few things you need to know if you’re from the U.S. “For here or to go,” in England is, “Eat in, or take away.” It took me a while to get the hang of it.
If you like half and half in your coffee at Starbucks, you won’t find it. They only have skim and whole milk. When you ask for cream, you don’t get to pour it in yourself. The barista will reach down, in his hidden fridge and take out a container of heavy whipping cream. He will then pour a 1/4 cup of heavy cream into your coffee, turning it completely white, and because he has been so kind, you’re too embarrassed to complain.
Trash cans in London and Paris are almost non-existant and yet, there is no litter. How come?
I have several theories: People don’t snack, therefore there’s no extra trash. I know this applies to the French who frown upon eating between meals.
All trash cans in Paris are see-through.Why?
To avoid terrorist bombs being placed inside. This is the explanation I was given.
The restrooms in London and Paris rarely have paper towels. Why? Probably to reduce waste, so the British have these high-tech hand dryers, that almost blow your hands off.
There are still holes in the ground toilets in southern France.
Fortunately, these are not as common as when I lived there.
In a small French cafe in the town of Cahors, southwest France, I heard Lady Gaga, followed by a French Brittany Spears. A couple of middle-aged French women hummed to Lady Gaga’s Pokerface, while filling out a Rapido (lotto card) and drinking their on-the-way-to-work espressos.
A pharmacie in France is a combination of a US pharmacy and a beauty supply store. They are all over the place, more common than grocery stores. With a minimum of ten people working to serve you, they give advice on medication, aromatherapy, anti-wrinkle creams, self-tanners and perfumes. Customer service in French “pharmacies,” makes it pleasant to be sick, unlike the unpleasant, overworked and stressed out local pharmacy staff in my neighborhood.
So why do I love to travel? Because we don’t have it all here. There are too many places to see, things to learn and minds to open.
News from southwest France and a meal at a one-star (Michelin) restaurant in Belcastel, a fairy-tale village. See photo below.
I want to add one thing: traveling, visiting in a country is so different than living. Oh, boy do I know that!
I never been to France (yet) because I want to learn some French before that. But I've been many times in London.
I wonder how it would be to settle down in Britain – here in Casa it's been really hard…but on the other hand we've met really nice people.
That's what makes the place nice or not – people.
What do you think?
(Nice to 'see you' again! And thanks for sharing!)
@BLOGitse, I agree with you that people are so important as to whether or not you feel good about where you live. I also think that climate affects people, at least that's what I experienced when I lived in Glasgow, Scotland the weather was quite dreadful. How long are you staying in Casablanca?
Robert the Skeptic says
I hope you have more videos, particularly of southern France. (I recall the Turkish Toilets as well there).
Yes, some American's idea of foreign travel is going to Disneyland and visiting the little "villages" there. It makes my head hurt to think about it.
We want to do a European trip next year but not sure where we want to go… but Barcelona we have heard wonderful things about. Portugal as well.
Ballerina Girl says
Looks like a great trip!
I agree with Blogitse…traveling and living are two different things.
I like them both, and think they have their own positives/negatives….
but I do feel everyone should travel some!
Oh Sonia, I loved your London video. Doubt I will ever live there, but I do love to visit. I have my Oyster card right in the drawer beside me and hope to refill it one day. The tube is such a great way to get around. I have only been in Southern France and would love to go back, but London holds my heart.
What fun to see my old haunts – South Ken Station – and learn some new things such as the tree trunks that date to before dinosaurs and about Big Ben. I loved the info about France – how well I recall those horrid toilets. I once had to use one on a rickety train – you can imagine how hard that was.
Thanks for keeping us informed and entertained with your news about your trip.
Its so true, we don't have it all here and its so much fun to go and see how they do things elsewhere.
When I was in England I felt like people snacked on chocolate constantly. But the meals were smaller than ours here.
You're back! Hope you all had wonderful celebrations!
I agree: no country has it all. Travel really does open up the mind and give you new perspectives and maturity – and above all compassion for others.
Rayna M. Iyer says
I so agree with you. But the same people who say "why travel, we have it all here", also do not experience more than a very small fraction of what "here" has to offer.
You need to be receptive to new experiences to get anything out of either staying put or out of travelling.
And you do seem to have had a great time.
A long-time friend, who had travelled extensively on business put it this way: "Stay at home and stay stupid." (Did I mention he was a fairly direct person?)
When you travel, you gather sights, sounds, and IDEAS, if you pay even a bit of attention. It's an "Open your mind and say 'Ahhhh!'" sort of experience. By time I was 25, I have lived in, worked in, or visited nine of Canada's ten provinces (starting when I was 21). After having seen most of my own country first, I went on from there, to the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.
"Stay at home and stay stupid." Yup!
Nowadays company makes contract for a year at the time, minimum is normally two years because the first year is not as productive as the second.
It takes time to get in.
Here, like everywhere else, house hunting takes time plus all the paper work.
Here it seems to be even more difficult than in Egypt. Why, I don't know.
But it's not as hot as Cairo. But I miss the pool…it was so great to have a swim every morning.
Here we wanted to try city life…We have good restaurants etc. in walk distance which is nice – no sitting 2 hours in a car
to have dinner like in Cairo 🙂
My mom recently died and she left me some money..mom always had a thing for travelling. She was a teacher and wanted to go to Europe so every year she organized a six week trip and took 6-10 kids. With the extra money she earned being a guide she took her kids. I went twice. It was so fun! We drove all over Europe and I remember getting lost and driving in and out of France in a circle, the man at the checkpoint screaming at us in French! Mom didnt know how to get on the road!! With the money she left I am taking my kids to Australia..Mom would have wanted that! I thank her for giving me the desire to see new things and meet new people..She was the person that sent in an application for me to be a flight attendant without me knowing..Lucky me I got the job! Miss her.. 🙂
PS This is from Margot, cant remember my password to post it!
Kelli Nørgaard says
I feel like I was walking in your footsteps since we just got back from London Tuesday night ! I love this post!!!! Glad you have had such a great journey!
Miss Footloose says
I agree, we don't have it all "here" and there is no such place where they do.
About turkish toilets in France: A few years ago I stopped for a potty break along one of the high ways in Southern France where a neat squarish white building was said to offer the necessary facilities.
I went inside and found a "hole in the ground" gone chic. The entire cubicle was tiled and after I had made use of it, it was automatically sterilized by a waterfall of liquid washing everything down from top to bottom. Very impressive! The rest of the place too was spotless with sink, water, soap and dryer. Never seen another one of those designer holes again.
I felt lucky I was out of there before the waterfall did its thing, though.
@Robert the Skeptic
Love the idea of traveling to Disneyland's "villages," especially as I live about ten miles away. More videos coming.
After reading your post, I understand what you're saying about travel and living in a place.
I didn't know you kept your Oyster card. You get a refund of three pounds for returning it.
I can imagine what a Turkish toilet and a rickety train ride is like. It's bad enough with a regular toiler on a French train.
I remember my college days and Cadbury's chocolate wrappers everywhere. Now London is more like Paris: chic.
Yes, I had a wonderful time with my best friends and family.
Yes, that's true. I must admit I prefer to be in another country and taste different foods and see different people.
I never knew you'd traveled to the Middle East and Africa. You should blog about that, or perhaps you did and I missed it.
Is there a pool you can use somewhere close by? I remember the tagines I had in Morocco. Do you enjoy them?
I never realized your mom was such a world traveler. How long were you a flight attendant for?
Sounds like you go to London quite often. Do you go to shop, like my Danish friend, Lilian?
Only you could describe a chic "hole."
Sonia, I was a flight attendant for 20 years..I flew to Europe 5 times a month for 2 of those..it was fun but exhausting..Margot
Phivos Nicolaides says
Your guote "I see the world with heart-shaped eyes" is just excellent.