I spent the last few weeks hiking about Europe having the “backpacking through Europe” experience I never had in college (I was too busy running regressions about Europe that I didn’t have time to actually go).
A few quick observations that many others have probably made, but that I found insightful. They are mostly anecdotal, and most aren’t serious.
1. The fact that the Spanish eat and are out so late has to have some sort of strange effect on its economic output. GDP decreases when the populace loses sleep. Siestas can’t make up the difference.
2. For a group of countries that seem almost obsessed with their food supply to the point of imposing the labeling of GMO foods, which scientifically have zero measurable adverse effects, there sure are a lot of smokers. And it’s not just the sheer number of smokers, but the brazen way in which smoking pervades public spaces. Cramped seating in restaurants equates to the inhalation of second-hand smoke mixed with the misters employed to keep customers cool in the summer. Lighting up at train stations with hundreds of people standing beside you.
For nations almost consumed by public health, they seem to have missed a big piece of it.
3. There is a lot of emphasis lately on the debt accrued by Spain, Italy, and Greece (the latter in particular). In Italy, I think I have discovered why.
No one pays for public transportation.
Oh, sure, some people pay. In fact, most probably do for metro access. But honestly, in all the buses we took across the country, there was no enforcement. I never saw anyone asked to show their pass on a water bus in Venice and never on any local trains near Florence, La Spezia, or Rome. I only once witnessed one person pay for their fare on a bus. No one else did.
4. Pride parades tend to be as inappropriate in style and demeanor in Paris as they are in the United States.
5. I don’t think anybody actually lives IN Venice. That’s just a myth.
6. I’m fairly certain that chest skin is not supposed to look like it was manufactured in Bangladesh. Yet that’s how many people on Southern Europe’s beaches looked.
7. America’s culture of modesty on the beach is a welcome thing. It’s not that we’re prudish. It’s that we want the mental security of knowing that we will not be blindsided by an errant Speedo or unaccounted breast.
8. America is so young in comparison to the heritage you can find across the pond.
9. The French take their right to protest VERY seriously. Thanks for ruining my day, taxi drivers–all because you have a new competitor in Uber.
10.AirBnB is a wonderful innovation of resource sharing, great for new experiences, and a better way of organizing space. I think that’s why economists tend to like it.
11. USA! USA! USA!