BootsnAll Travel Network

Bottled water, et al.

Tourists in foreign countries invariably start comparing their own country to the place they are visiting. What is better, what is worse, what do you really miss from home, etc? When I was in Amsterdam, a girl in my hostel loudly complained about the different electrical sockets in Europe. “Why can’t everyone just use the same kind.” Understandable, I’ve often wondered the same. But presumably, she would want everyone to use her type of plug, not the other way around. So the question then becomes, when does comparing things turn from observation to criticism? I think it’s probably human nature to compare new things to old ones, but when those comparisons stop you from enjoying and experiencing the new ones, then you need to take some time to refocus and look at things a new way.

There are all things from our homelands that we love and are used to. The hardest thing for me when I go to Europe is the lack of ice cubes. My German relatives think drinking really cold drinks is bad for our digestion, but they can’t explain why ice cream isn’t the same. Eventually, you get used to drinking not cold things, and when I came home, icy fountain pop seemed like a good idea, but was way too cold for a while. I also hate the profusion of bottled water. Tap water in Europe is frankly, awesome. I refuse to pay for bottled water just because culturally, I’ll be an outcast. It’s just such a waste of money, when you know their tap water is 573 times better than Lake Michigan tap. So in restaurants, I think I always embarrassed my relatives when I’d ask for “Leitungswasser,” tap water. How uncouth! Tap water is for animals, not people. They also say we have too much advertising in the States, we are big consumers. Well, they certainly bought into whatever genius advertising company made them think their tap water isn’t okay to drink. It’s insane the amount of money they probably spend on water, when crystal clear water, probably straight from the Alps, is flowing freely to their kitchens. Lunacy.

The bottled water craze has reached it’s peak in the States as well. It is becoming more common to be asked what kind of water you want in a nice restaurant. Penn and Teller did a skit on bottled water and the pure stupidity of it all. They put a fake spider in the bottom of a bottle, filled it up with water from a hose in the back of a restaurant, and tried to sell it to customers at this place. They explained the spider was from I think the Amazon, and it purified the water. People actually bought this stuff for some ridiculous amount that I can’t remember now. It just made me laugh.

The funny thing is, now all I hear and read about, is to make sure I don’t drink the water anywhere. Except in Oz and New Zealand, I’ll have to buy bottled water everywhere or purify tap water in order to not get sick. It’s kind of ironic in a weird way. I’m sure there are people all over the world that would kill to get their hands on an ice cold glass of Lake Michigan. I think I’ll definitely miss that.

Aside from the lack of ice cubes and clean tap water, which I think I’ll deal with okay now, there are other things that I’m pretty sure I’ll miss while I’m gone, besides the obvious family and friends:

Jaffa Bagels – this little independent bagel place in my work building. Perfect Everything bagel, with homemade chive cream cheese or hummus. No wonder I can’t lose weight.

Mexican food – I’ve tried Mexican in various other countries. Atrocious. I think maybe they can’t get the proper ingredients in a lot of places, but it was, if I remember correctly, truly awful.

Music – I’m not bringing any with me, no iPod, no nothing. Should be interesting. Hopefully, with my ears open, I’ll discover new stuff.

TV – I know, you are all thinking “how sad for her. She’s traveling around the world and she’s going to miss TV?” But really, there are some good shows out there that I want to find out what happens! I used to be really addicted to television, as my friends now, and I’ve cut alot out, but there are still some things I really love. Lost, Veronica Mars, Alias, anything on HBO really, Nip/Tuck, CSI, good old standbye Survivor, and of course, The Amazing Race. The past season was horrendous, but a new one is starting in February I think and looks great. Oh well, I’ll be on my own amazing race so I think I’ll survive.

The Oscars – I think a lot of the voting and nominations are bullshit, but there is something about the Oscars that I just love, and sometimes, they really do pick the right person to win.

Jeans – I’m not bringing jeans with me; too heavy, take too long to dry, too warm, etc. I don’t wear them all the time, but I’d like to have the option.

Going out to breakfast – We have some awesome breakfast spots in Chicago, and I love sitting there over coffee and some weird new egg concoction, wondering what happened to my friend in the bathroom after a rough night. I think breakfast will be my simplest and cheapest meal while I travel, the easiest way to save some money, so no Eggs Benedict for me..

Driving – I know what you are all thinking. In my previous post, I just got through explaining how liberating it will be without having to worry about a car. But I’m sure there will be times and places I’ll really wish I could just hop in and go on my own terms.

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