Why do the Locals Treat Europe Like an Ashtray and a Urinal?

A Year Ago Today

This is my rant from a year ago today (September 24, 2014) about how most Europeans seem to treat their countries like an ashtray and a urinal. We encountered this behavior mostly in France, Spain and Italy.

Note: There are No Pictures with This Post

You’ll notice the lack of pictures with this post. Considering the subject matter, trust me, it wouldn’t be pretty.

A Conundrum

We have found it very odd that most Europeans seem slim, fit and health-conscious, yet, on the other hand, a large majority of them smoke.

Treating Europe Like an Ashtray

Not only do an inordinate number of Europeans seem to smoke, and a lot of them chain smoke, but they don’t seem to care about disposing of their cigarette butts properly. Just dropping them on the ground – or the beach – or the sidewalk – or in the street – seems to be the method of choice.

Do they not see that this makes the entire place look like a massive ashtray?

It seemed almost everywhere we went, in Spain, Italy or France, we couldn’t escape the huge number of cigarette butts – everywhere!

Thankfully, cigarette smoking is no longer allowed on buses in Europe. On this visit, we took several, long bus journeys and would not have been able to stand it if they had allowed smoking on the buses.

And don’t get in the way of a smoker when the bus stops for a break, they’re likely to run you over in their rush to get their next fix. They often exit the bus with a cigarette already in their mouth and a lighter in hand,  before they are even fully off the bus.

There didn’t seem to be any particular age group that was so hooked. Both young and old were held hostage to this filthy habit.

It’s not that there aren’t any smokers in North America. Of course there are, but it is really rare to see cigarette butts littering the streets, parks, beaches, etc. Europe, on the other hand, seems like one large ashtray.

When we stopped at a small beach restaurant to enjoy a couple of beers, the waiter was serving food while a lit cigarette dangled from his mouth. Amazing!

One of the exceptions we noted in Europe was Paris. It’s a beautifully clean city, but they work very hard to keep it that way.

Treating Europe Like a Urinal

The other thing that made us wonder about Europeans, in general, was their lack of outrage at public urination.

Many times during our travels we saw men (yes, it was always men – easier for them, I guess), urinating in public – either at the side of the road, next to a tree, in a public park, you name it, we saw it all. But, besides that, even when urinals are provided they are often built so that the occupants are visible to passersby – and that was even in Paris!

Pet Poop

While we’re on the subject of public urination, let’s talk about the overabundance of pet poop. While we saw many people doing the “stoop and scoop” thing and cleaning up after their pets, they were the exception and not the rule.

While we were staying in Spain, we had to avoid way too much dog poop on our morning and evening walks. And dog poop deposited directly on the walking paths – right in the way!

I guess one person thought they were “cleaning up” by placing a paper towel over the pile of poop and then just walking away!

Animals at Restaurants

While I’m on a rant, maybe it’s time to mention the number of people that bring their pets, usually dogs, to restaurants.

Okay, maybe at an outdoor café it’s not too bad, but some of these people, with smaller dogs, would put them on their laps and even on the tables!

Are there no health codes for restaurants in Europe?

Itinerary for Our 2014 Adventure

Our 2014 Adventure

We began this adventure on July 21, 2014.

Well, it’s a year later, the trip is over, but the memories remain.

Here’s a quick look at our itinerary before we begin the individual posts documenting this fun, amazing and educational trip.

Flag Canada
Canada

July 21

Bus to Thunder bay and then three flights ending in Iceland on July 22nd.

 

 

Flag Iceland
Iceland

July 22 – July 25

Reykjavik, Iceland

 

 

Flag United Kingdom
United Kingdom

July 25 – August 10

London, United Kingdom

 

 

Flag France
France

August 10 – August 14

Paris & Lyon, France

 

 

Flag Spain
Spain

August 14 – September 5

Vera Playa, Spain

 

 

Flag France
France

September 5 – September 28

Cap d’Agde & Marseille, France

 

 

Tunisia
Tunisia
Malta
Malta

September 28 – October 5

Mediterranean Cruise – including stops in Tunisia, Malta and Italy before returning to Marseille.

Italy
Italy

 

Denmark
Denmark

October 5 – October 6

Marseille, France to Copenhagen, Denmark

 

 

October 6 – November 3

TransAtlantic cruise from Copenhagen, Denmark to Los Angeles, USA stopping at

Portugal
Portugal

Ponta Del Gada, Azores, Portugal

 

 

 

USA
USA

 

St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Miami, Florida, USA

 

Colombia
Colombia

 

Cartagena, Colombia

 

 

 

Panama
Panama

 

The Panama Canal, Panama

 

 

 

Costa Rica
Costa Rica

 

Puntarenas, Costa Rica

 

 

 

Mexico
Mexico

Puerto Chiapas, Huatulco, Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

 

 

 

USA
USA

 

Los Angeles, California, USA

 

 

 

Canada
Canada

November 3 – November 4

Los Angeles, USA to Home

The Start of Our Atlantic Crossing

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Nov 01 ~ Day #175
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$17500
$102.34
$15647.88
$89.42
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15551
8185.5
7662
168
31566.5

Current Location: On Board Celebrity Century En Route to Miami

Today’s Total Expenses: $102.34 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment)

Miles Traveled Today:
We will record the miles for the Atlantic Crossing on November 8th when we arrive in Miami

First Day of Atlantic Crossing

Yesterday we visited our last port of call in Europe and we will now be at sea until we get to Miami on November 8th.

The ship has lots of activities, so I’m sure we won’t get bored. I expect it will just be a pleasant, relaxing week at sea.

A Little Too Relaxed?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, we are traveling with just one laptop. So, when one of us is using it, the other one has to find something else to do.

While Geoff was using the computer, I settled in to read my book and promptly fell asleep. That wouldn’t be so bad, I guess, but for the fact that we were in the Hemisphere Lounge on Deck 12 Forward. It’s really a lovely lounge with wrap-around windows so you can see the whole bow of the ship and, of course, a great view of the ocean.

So, here I was sound asleep, with my feet up on another chair. I think I slept for almost two hours. I sure hope I didn’t snore!

More Great Entertainment

The cast on this ship, both singers and dancers, are very good. The production numbers are well put together and very professional.

Tonight’s entertainment was called “Liverpool Knights” and treated us to a lot of songs we remember from the 60s as well as some incredibly “tight” dance numbers.

We thoroughly enjoyed it.

La Palma, The Canary Islands

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 31 ~ Day #174
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$17400
$102.34
$15545.54
$89.34
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15551
8026.7+158.8=8185.5
7662
168
31566.5

Current Location: On Board the Celebrity Century visiting La Palma, Canary Islands

Today’s Total Expenses: $102.34 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 158.8 (138 Nautical Miles – Tenerife to La Palma)

Birthday Wishes

First up is a very happy birthday wish to son-in-law, W. Hope you have a wonderful day. Love you!

La Palma, Canary Islands

As we arrived La Palma early on a Sunday morning, it seemed like a pretty sleepy little place.

On our first walk in there really wasn’t anything open, so we headed back to the ship and waited until after lunch to head back.

There were a few shops and restaurants open when we decided to have our second look. And we enjoyed wandering around some of the stores.

We were even able to take some pictures and videos here because the camera we bought yesterday in Tenerife was now all charged up and ready to go.

Of course, now we’ll be at sea for a week once we leave La Palma. Oh well!

Comedian Jason Chase

The entertainment tonight was by comedian Jason Chase, billed as “The Dangerously Clean Comedy of Jason Chase”.

We thoroughly enjoyed his comedy routine as he definitely spoke to our age group and had us laughing at funny, yet true to life, situations.

But he was not the only entertainment for this Halloween evening.

Halloween Show

There was a single-seating Halloween show tonight as well. It started off with a costume contest for the ship’s guests. Anyone that had dressed up was eligible.

It was amazing how many people had very elaborate costumes. We hadn’t even thought about Halloween, but then, we started this trip back in May. Hardly time to be thinking of such things.

After the winners were announced, the show continued with a tribute to Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

The stage effects were incredible and the cast members simply unbelievable. The video was playing on a large screen behind the dancers and they were totally in sync with the dancers in the video. It gave the whole thing an almost 3D effect.

They did an perfect tribute to the Thriller video. Very impressive!

Clocks Back – Again

This is going to be happening a lot on this trip, until we get back to Eastern Standard Time. I’m sure glad they remind us to change our watches.

Tenerife, The Canary Islands

Our transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment cost so far

Oct 30 ~ Day #173
Budget to date
Spent today
Total to date
Daily average
Total
$17300
$102.34
$15443.20
$89.27
Miles by Road
Miles by Sea
Miles by Air
Miles by Train
Total Miles
15551
7702.2+324.5=8026.7
7662
168
31407.7

Current Location: On Board the Celebrity Century visiting Tenerife, Canary Islands

Today’s Total Expenses: $102.34

Cruise: $102.34 (cruise cost includes transportation, accommodation, food and entertainment)

Miles Traveled Today:
Sea Miles: 324.5 (282 Nautical Miles – Madeira to Tenerife)

Tenerife

Geoff and I have been to Tenerife before but that was a very, very long time ago. I think it may have been around 1989 or 1990. And, we were at a different part of the island than we are now.

So, it will be like discovering it for the first time and that’s true for this part of the island, anyway.

Getting A Replacement Camera

While exploring we stumbled across and electronics store and checked out the items they had in their windows.

We noticed a Sony digital video camera that seemed like a good price so we stopped in to check it out.

Actually, Geoff checked it out. They also had watches and jewelry in the store, so I browsed those things while a salesman demonstrated the camera for Geoff.

No, I didn’t buy anything, I just browsed.

After the salesman had finished showing Geoff the camera, we discussed it and then plunked down some plastic and bought it. We were just so tired of not having a camera with us.

As this was our second-to-last stop before heading back to Miami, it may seem like an odd time to actually break down and get another camera, but we did it anyway.

Next thing was to get it charged so that we could start recording video.

So Many Shoes, So Little Time

While exploring the town further, we also found a shoe store that was simply unbelievable. Really.

There were stacks and stacks and stacks of shoes and most of the prices were €1.00, €3.00 and €6.00! There were very few shoes priced higher than that.

Geoff actually said, “With prices like that, get as many as you want.”

I was in shoe heaven!

I didn’t know where to start, but I was certainly trying to pick out several types of shoes that I would like to try on.

I had only made a few selections, and hadn’t even tried any on yet, when one of the sales clerks indicated that we had to leave – the store was closing. What? I only just got here.

We had arrived just a little after 1:00pm and apparently the store closed at 1:30pm.

Okay. Closing for lunch is pretty normal in Europe. I asked what time they would re-open. After all, we were in port for a while, so we could come back.

Well, as it was Saturday, 1:30pm was their closing time for the day. They wouldn’t be re-opening until Monday! By Monday we’d be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

I was devastated. I hadn’t even tried anything on yet. But, they didn’t care, they just wanted us out of the store so they could close.

So, I left this amazing shoe store, where I was told I could buy what ever I wanted, without making a single purchase! Waaahh!!

Doing the Tourist Thing

As the Canary Islands were our last stop where we would need Euros, and we still a few left, we did the touristy thing and actually bought some t-shirts with Tenerife on them.

They were actually a pretty good deal and we liked the quality of the t-shirts, too. They weren’t those awful thin shirts but a good weight and very soft.

We bought three of them at €3.75 ($4.94) each. Two for Geoff and one for me and that all but used up our last Euros.

Even though there is VAT (valued added tax) in Europe, I like the fact that it is already included in the price of things. So, the price you see if the price you pay. The tax doesn’t get added on on top of the price like it does in Canada and the U.S.

That made it easy to figure out if we had enough money to buy the t-shirts and how many we could afford. As we only had about €12.00 left, we were able to buy three t-shirts.

Again, we have not added this into the daily expenses as this is a discretionary expense and not really a cost of traveling. Other people may not find the need to make such a purchase.

Entertainment

Tonight’s entertainment featured two performers – Sideshow Bert, who we’d seen earlier in the cruise – and Mario D’Andrea.

Mario D’Andrea is billed as a mixed up Italian from Australia. He has a great voice and does wonderful impersonations of such celebrities as Dean Martin, Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink.

Let’s Do The Time Warp Again

Tonight we turned back the clocks another hour. It’s something that will be happening a lot on this cruise.

We also find it much easier to deal with the time change this way. When you fly you have to deal with the time changes immediately.

I guess that’s why there’s “jet lag” but I’ve never heard of “cruise lag”.