While we absolutely LOVED our three weeks in Europe, by the end of our trip we were so excited to be back in the States. Seeing how today is the day that we celebrate America, we decided to list the things that we missed about the USA while we were away.
It isn't hard to find a drinking fountain in America; in Europe it was next to impossible. We are so used to being able to get a drink of water or fill up our water bottles basically wherever we are at. It was an adjustment to have to carry all of the water we needed for the day instead of filling up our bottles throughout the day. It was so exciting when we got back to America to see drinking fountains all over the airports, especially when we saw the drinking fountains with water bottle fillers!
Free Public Restrooms
In America basically every store or museum or building has a public, free restroom. Not so in Europe. First off, we didn't even really see that many public restrooms while we were out. And when we did, often times you had to pay to use them. It almost made me cry tears of joy when we got off our flight in Anchorage and I could use a bathroom with a normal toilet, a sink with warm water, and paper towels to dry my hands; all things I didn't realize how much I missed.
Variety of Food
The places we visited didn't have a lot of variety in their food options. In France we ate a lot of pastries and crepes (which we loved) and in Venice we ate a lot of pizza. But there were some days that all I really wanted were chicken nuggets or fresh, cold fruit or yummy Chinese food. We love how in America, you can always find something that you want to eat; there are so many choices!
While wide streets are not common in some of America's larger cities or on the East Coast, most of America I would say has quite large streets and roads. Europe felt like more of a walker's world; sidewalks everywhere, plazas, and not very large roads. While we enjoyed walking as a mode of transportation, I really loved being able to drive my car down wide roads when we got home.
Big Grocery Stores
While small markets are cute and it was interesting to visit a few of them while we were in Europe, they always made me feel claustrophobic. I missed the space and variety of America's Wal-Marts, Targets, Costcos and Sam's Clubs.
Signs in English
Signs in France and Italy were easy enough for us to read and understand (lots of them even had English words on them). Signs in Greece were not. While we were able to know where we were going and could figure out directions, it was just comforting to come home and see everything in English.
Conversations in English
Similar to the signs, we were able to get by with our English while we were in Europe. Most people could understand what we were asking for. But after having 3 weeks of zoning out other conversations going on around you, it was a shock and comfort to our ears to be able to understand everything that was being said all of the time.
AM and PM Time
Europe is on a 24 hour clock. It often required a lot of thinking to figure out what time things were actually happening. I loved hearing the announcements at the Anchorage airport letting us know that "the local time is now 10:00 pm."
Lastly, it is so nice to be able to buy things and not try to make conversions in your head as to how much things actually cost. It is also nice to not have ATM fees and international transaction fees from our bank :)