The only way you can buy American exceptionalism is if you’ve never left America. When you travel and see how the rest of the Western world, you see what a bill of goods we’ve been sold. It’s pure, unmitigated propaganda. And if you’ve travelled to the third world, you see that’s where the real commonality lies with the US.
The quality of life, the social, political and environmental consciousness in Europe is light years ahead of the US. Whether it’s the preponderance of bicycles over cars or the automatic lighting that turns off when not in use or the appreciation and connection to history, the Europeans have left us in the dust. Take a look at a city like LA, my city, and you realize who would build a city like LA? It’s totally impractical. We’re dependent on cars and oil, a smog producing, money draining vehicles built to fall apart in X number of years. But it’ll make a lot of people rich. Trains. People get around on trains. Easy peasy. Sensible. Economic. Our friend Jess, who visited in UK, hopped on a train (there was a train station in the teeny weeny town we were staying in) and an hour later was in Orvieto. She was home in time for dinner. We began the day in Lyon and were in Bruges via train by midday. Crime? A non-issue. Guns? What are those? Nobody went to church in Europe today worried some racist was going to burst in and mow them down? And what a simple quality of life issue like relaxation? The Italians siesta from 1-5, as in NO WORK. As in zero. The French only take three instead of four hours. In our country, babies are lucky to get a nap for fear another baby will learn to read and nab their spot at private school. It is THRILLING to walk through a city and see cranes and scaffolding put there to preserve the past. In LA, even new houses are torn down to put up newer HIDEOUS so-called homes, because the rich, like dogs, have to mark their own territory. We wouldn’t want them to have to live in a house that was once occupied!
If you don’t want to think about anything, stay home. Because when you travel it changes you. You see the world through a new lens. I owe my parents a debt of gratitude for teaching my brother and I the value of travel. And, although, we’ve done a fair amount of traveling, this summer is a rare and true privilege for which I’m eternally grateful.
BRUGES!!! It’s unreal. Only it’s real. EVERYTHING is a picture. But it’s totally authentic. It’s not its fault it wasn’t bombed in WW2! I couldn’t walk two steps without the need to take a picture. Everybody is walking around taking pictures because it’s ridiculously photogenic. Not to mention I have NEVER seen so much unbelievable looking chocolate. You cannot walk 20 feet without a chocolatier. Our phenomenal hotel isn’t just phenomenal because Ralph stayed here while shooting “In Bruges”, it’s located on the oldest known street in Bruges. The river “Reie” on the canal in front of the hotel bears the same name and was part of the first town walls around 1127. And although this is the first place where we encountered masses of touristos, as soon as you turn a corner off the main squares, it’s quiet and trafficked mainly by those who live here.