something north americans never do at home: travel to two different countries in a matter of hours. that’s exactly what I did last weekend, when I took a night bus from paris to amsterdam (highly recommended, for longer bus rides) then, two days later, hopped on a three-hour bus to brussels before finally heading back to paris.
amsterdam, is, obviously amazing. beyond it’s famous, umm, physical pleasures, it’s a beautiful city with tons of great museums, friendly people and good food.
but, while visiting my fifth european city this year, I couldn’t help but draw some comparisons between the great cities of europe and of america, both big and small. there’s a lot that I wish were more american about europe—a heightened sense of customer service at restaurants being number one—but there’s also a lot that I wish america had picked up from our western brethren.
number one: my god, man, why is our transportation network so far behind?!?!
now, this has been said. and said again. and reiterated. the old europe-vs-america transit argument was probably written inside of an Egyptian pyramid in hieroglyphics centuries ago. it’s an old, battered and tired argument. but that doesn’t make it any less true. I’m guessing that the car lobby isn’t as strong in places like amsterdam, but it’s a little baffling to an american when you visit big cities and small towns alike to never, ever have to step foot in a car.
another observation? multiple ways to get around in a socially acceptable fashion.
also, skateboards, scooters, motorized scooters seem to be much more popular in the european cities I’ve visited than in the american cities where I’ve visited or lived. not all european cities are created equally, though, as amsterdam is, by far, the most bikeable city I’ve ever experienced. bikers have the right of way on roads and there are real bike lanes everywhere (not the skinny portion of car-road that bikers are given in dc and new york).
brussels and ghent, where I visited in belgium, were also incredibly bikeable places where cars seemed more scarce.
two months in, I am absolutely missing my beautiful america (and anxiously awaiting a possible early return—more on that later, though). but, I do wish that I could bring some aspects of european life back to the states with me.
some other random pics: