The further you get from Paris, the more pleasant the French become. Regardless, they still manage to retain the classic Gallic qualities of doing what they please and really not caring what you think. This is admirable in some respects, but infuriating when you expected the store to be open during its posted business hours.
Any visit to France leaves you wondering how they have an economy. Case in point: They close most businesses from 12:00pm to 2:30pm for lunch. At 1:15pm we go to a restaurant with plenty of seats. The hostess says “I won’t seat you” and walks away. We find another restaurant where the waitress grudgingly agrees to seat us after declaring half the menu off limits.
The first person to introduce baguette-length bags to France will make millions. The current system is to wrap a tiny paper square around the mid-section of your three-foot stick of bread and lay it on the counter.
The first person to introduce the concept of not handling money and food at the same time may not make millions but will endear themselves to germ freaks.
France makes some of the ugliest cars in the world. Whoever designed the Renault Megane should be exiled.
You have to love a country so cultured that you can find $275 bottles of wine sitting on the supermarket shelves. The best my local New York supermarket can do is a $3.99 bottle of Chateau Diana “wine product.”
The French enjoy amazing food yet they are not fat. This is because they have learned that eating lots of food makes you fat. This is something that I hope Americans will one day figure out.
A very small, silly monarchy that resembles Las Disney Vegas World because it feels fake, gaudy, and has huge crowds of slobbering tourists.
Citizens have one of the highest standards of living in the world, thanks in no small part to its status as a tax haven, not to mention the casino that lets Russian oligarchs launder their billions.
Italians travel in packs of twenty and drive like they’re fleeing a volcano.
All Swiss people do is hike the gorgeous countryside in shorts whilst remaining neutral.
A country so small and army-less that my son’s pre-school class could invade and occupy it between song circle and snack time. Its prince once threatened to sell the country to Bill Gates.
An absolutely picturesque country that gave us Schwarzenegger, Freud and Hitler.
The Autobahn. There is no greater automotive bliss than being able to drive 110/mph without worrying that a toothless Massachusetts State Trooper will walk out into the middle of the highway and flag you down.
Germans know what the left hand lane is for and will actually get out of the way of faster cars. This is because in Germany, as in many European countries, drivers licenses are earned rather than handed out with Happy Meals.
For some reason German cab drivers lock the back windows closed and drive with minimal air conditioning.
Germans tend to speak excellent English, they have great beers and anyone over 80 could have run a death camp.
Once people in Poland realize you’re not Polish they start speaking to you in German. Once they realize you’re not German they continue speaking to you in German in the hopes that you’ll pick it up.
Rusting cars, the dreaded Fiat Maluch, tour buses and newly-moneyed meatheads in shiny BMWs – all trying to overtake slow-moving tractors and wheat combines on narrow, collapsing, communist-era roads lined with thick trees every five feet. Excellent combination.
Europe Dispatch: The Very Long Drive – A Summary
Ah yes, driving in Italy. I took leave of my sanity last year and decided it would be a brilliant idea to rent a car in Southern Italy. I should add that, while basically versed in the use of a manual, I have never driven one for longer than 15 minutes in the driveway with my father shouting “Clutch! Use the clutch!!” I completely embraced the Italian style of driving 130km/hr and passing trucks on blind curves on roads with a sheer drop off to the sea on one side but this was not until after I went through the Hell of the first three days. I pissed off more Italian drivers in those three days than you could imagine possible. They take it personally when you panic and stall the car when the octagenarean steps into the street immediately in front of you without once looking to see if perhaps someone is coming. Once I remembered the clutch, life proceeded much more smoothly.
The Italians, like the Germans, believe that a drivers license is a privelege not a right.
How did Renault sell a single Megane? Watch the English ad to see why:
Fiat’s Multipla is far, far, quite a terribly lot further along in terms of blinding ugliness.
The Megane is ugly, though. Citroen makes good looking cars, though. :)
How much traveling do you do!? It seems like you are in Poland every month! And some other country(s) every other month, too!
The Renault Megane, forward of the rear wheel looks good. Rear of the rear wheel, is not bad (it looks like a Mini Cooper or something). But put together it is dumb.
Seriously – crank a sheet of onion skin under the platen and get crackin’ on that travelogue.
“The Innocent And a Broad”
Hi, I’m Italian and, like the rest of the europeans, fall in the brief description made by the Banterist. Well…funny, very funny. To be honest, the FIAT multipla is the ugliest car ever made, not the Renault. And I should add that in Italy men who drive automatic cars or stall at traffic lights are considered homosexuals and ought to be killed.