If you watch the news -- or listen to any douchebag who “lived” in Italy for 10 weeks his junior year of college -- then you probably think Europe has figured out all of the world's problems. Everybody has health care. They eat butter for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and drink wine after every workout -- yet never gain weight. Their trains take you everywhere short of the moon, everybody speaks 400 languages, and they apparently “get” something about life that Americans just don’t.
But you know what? Europe ain’t all that. Delicious cheese or not, I can't help but hate the place. And this is why:
Double Chicken Please Is a Traveling Bar in the Back of a 1977 Vintage Van
First off, everything there is small. Tiny, in fact. I’m a large individual who gets claustrophobic in a scaled-down 7-11, so those bodega-sized “supermarkets” are pretty much asking me to knock over the Nutella display.
You have to wedge yourself into cars that’re only slightly larger than filing cabinets, drive on streets designed for horses, and eat at restaurants with tables that barely fit the salad plate. Apartments are so small they have those all-in-one washer/dryers, which is great if you enjoy perpetually damp clothes.
The food is equally as unsubstantial. I don’t believe I’ve ever left a restaurant in Europe feeling anything in the neighborhood of “full,” since their idea of an acceptable portion is pretty much what a six-year-old eats for an afternoon snack. Is that how they serve giant plates of carbs and cholesterol at every meal and still stay skinny? Maybe. But if the tradeoff is being hungry, I'll pass. Or at least have someone pass the bread, since I need something to fill me up.
And would it kill them to put some ice in your water? Lovely as it is washing down a hot meal with tepid San Pellegrino, sometimes you just want something cold and refreshing. And is it really necessary to charge 4 Euros every time I order a Coca Cola Light? Free refills haven’t exactly bankrupted US restaurants.
Okay, enough food, let's talk about those world-renowned "beaches" in the South of France, the ones that get so much love. Come on, they aren’t beaches so much as they are a long stretches of pebbles occupied by leathery naked people. Yes, seeing a hot topless French woman isn’t a bad thing. But her being surrounded by 14 naked French dudes? Not a trade I’m willing to make. How about we just all keep our clothes on so I don’t spend the rest of my trip trying to unsee Antoine’s junk.
And finally, there's the languages. In America, you can hit almost every inch of our 3.8 million square miles and only need to know one language. Two, if you go to Miami. In Europe, every 10 feet somebody is speaking some dialect of a language they don't even sell on Rosetta Stone.
So, Europe? I’m good on Europe. It’s a nice change of pace, but hardly worth being crammed on an airplane for nine hours with people who actually clap when you touch down. No thanks. Or should I say, no merci.