Thursday, March 18, 2010

Five Things I Miss About Europe

Beth and I are back from our too-brief European vacation, a trip which took us to Germany, through Austria, and into northern Italy, and already I have a hankering for what we left behind.

  1. The Autobahn.  Yes, the fabled "no speed limit" highways of Germany (and their fast-but-limited cousins in Austria and the Autostrade in Italy).  It wasn't so much that the Autobahn's speeds--and curvy sections, construction zones, and busy metropolitan stretches did actually have speed limits, typically between 50 and 70 mph--but the fact that everyone knew how to drive.  For a frustrated American driver, what a breath of fresh air to see cars yield to overtaking vehicles, to use the left lane for passing, not cruising, and to refrain from typical passive-aggressive road rage machismo.
  2. Coffee.  Real, honest-to-god, Italian coffee.  Beth and I are both coffee junkies and to a lesser degree connoisseurs (we've done the slurp-from-a-spoon coffee tastings), yet we rarely drink espresso in and of itself at home.  After a week of some of the best espresso and espresso drinks we've ever tasted, I'm off shopping for a quality machine that goes beyond the typical steam-driven "espresso" machine built into our coffee maker.
  3. Wine.  Yes, we've our share of fantastic wine in America, and Beth and I are downright European in our wine-with-every-dinner habit, but we visited Amarone country.  (A bit of tangential wine trivia: in the novel Silence of the Lambs, it's a big Amarone Dr. Lecter enjoys with some fava beans and his victim's liver, not the Chianti from the film--the screenwriters felt no one in the US would know what an Amarone was.)
  4. History.  We've got our share in the United States, but to be fair, as a nation our past stretches hardly more than a handful of centuries.  Europe may not have been the cradle of civilization, but Western civilization does go back millennia in Europe.  Ancient buildings, buildings reconstructed after World War II in their original style, Roman ruins... well, we were quite inspired by some of the colors and architecture and techniques and brought back many great ideas for our "wine bistro" we're going to build at Chateau Papillon.
  5. Friends.  Last but not at all least, we miss the great friends we left behind, and who played such great hosts to us during our trip.  Ursula, we'll have to make a trip just to Frankfurt sometime.  Michael & Sam, it's too bad you'll be heading back from Italy so soon yourselves!  I'm tempted to give you two a hand bringing some of your stuff back... by flying over with a couple of empty suitcases.  Yes, I think I could stand to do that, indeed.

1 comment:

Sam Taylor said...

Italy has worked her magic on you too! We will miss all those things and more! You are very welcome to come again with empty suitcases. It would save us some shipping costs... Plus, we could show you more of Italy that we skipped because we were short on time.