From Ohio to Europe…part 2!

For those of you that enjoyed reading James Moyer’s experience of traveling to Europe for the first time, I’ve just received the second installment.

James Moyer’s travels so far….
Here I sit for a few hours without internet in Brussels’ Chareleroi airport, which does King Charles proud, except for the fact that Ryanair almost exclusively serves it. At any rate, I found a 1 cent Euro coin which until this point I didn’ t know existed. It’s sitting on my luggage boring me with its sultry temptations of .013 USD. Do I keep the euro cent? I don’t think any machine uses it. Do I give it away to someone? Not if I uphold some sense of dignity for people in general.

I’ll put it back on the floor for someone else to struggle with this conundrum.

The fact that I am internetless does bring up the (slightly expected) reality that Europeans don’t like to give internet away for free. Even in the supposedly four star hotel which the European Union taxpayer had me sleep in, internet was not free, and I had to sign up for some type of rancid marketing scheme to get it for a couple of days. I am stuck in this airport now and they want €20 for internet. Why do Europeans insist on keeping me from my facebook? Those likes don’t just like themselves.

On the topic of this airport and dignity, the bathrooms have condom machines. Under what circumstance will those condoms be used, and is that something I needed to have paid in advance on the Ryanair website?

*The stereotype of Holland has this cute little windmills. They actually exist.

*The up-down wailing tone of the European emergency vehicle siren…also exists.

*I feel we Americans buy a lot more Chinese stuff than Europeans do. I don’t know if that is an advantage to anyone in particular, but I note this because I saw this cheap plastic game in the gas station (my first gas station in Europe!) that was made in China and I thought that was remarkable in some way. I remember looking at the blanket I was provided in the hostel and was fascinated that it was made in Holland. We’d just get cheap shit like that from China.

Speaking of the hostel, they didn’t provide towels. They wanted to charge me €4.50 for a towel and there is no way that I am paying that type of money for a non-Chinese towel.

I used the bed sheet instead.

It dried off by the time I needed to sleep.

Kind of.

*French women (err, Wallonian women) eat in this really unappetizing way. Like they move their mouths more vigorously. I just don’t like it. Bridgette Bardot certainly wasn’t in a film eating, it would have shattered her career.

*Returning to the topic of bathrooms, American bathrooms notoriously have dividers between toilet stalls which are incomplete–you can see below and above them. European bathrooms actually have full doors and walls–creating a little private closet: a piss-smelling ceramic haven from the busy world.

After almost no consideration at all, I have concluded that I prefer the American style partitions because the European ones, while nice in theory, are clausterphobic in practice. I just don’t want to be alone with a toilet.

This does mean that I am selecting the more invasive separators, which allow someone whose eyes are naturally 8 inches off the ground to spy what type of underwear you might be wearing. I’m not making fun of the panty-shy, this is a thought I’ve had before and have strenuously mitigated during my unplanned encounters with these partitions.

*The piss smell in European bathroom cleaners? It smells like an outhouse to me. That’s my description of it. I’m now on the lookout for what the magical ingredient is that causes this smell. Will it be eau de outhouse? Perhaps in Germany it will be smellenaufhausen.

My main take away from these insights is the fact that it’s common to see hotels charge for added extras these days. It’s an interesting annoyance that I also find (not that I stay in hotels often) – you expect a level of service in a hotel and when ‘new’ charges are introduced, it quickly cheapens the whole experience. That being said, charging for breakfast, the internet, tea/coffee etc are easy ways to make extra money or are they ways of reducing the intial cost to encourage more people to stay in them?  The Tune Hotel chain are doing exactly that – removing everything apart from the bed and shower to keep costs low to make the hotel affordable.

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