The closer we get to Canada, the more things start to break down. Maybe it’s just the current state of the travel experience or airports or something else. Things don’t work, we get overcharged for baggage, we get emails from the airline company with incorrect information, and people (Canadians) cut into lines in front of us and everybody else. As a grand finale, the two bottles of duty-free rum I buy on the flight are improperly packaged and I’m sent back by security to check them in, which I do in my small backpack. Then somebody in the depths of Montreal security or baggage handling steals them and I pick up an empty bag in Toronto and nobody there seems able or willing to do anything about it. I know, first world problems. But we made it home safe and sound.
During this trip, Ana and I talked about what we missed from home. My immediate answer was always “Stella and Magnus”, but now that we are home I have a chance to think more about this, as I always do when we return from travel to other countries. We have a great life in Paris, Ontario. It is safe, uncrowded, we live in a big house with a big yard, we have a beautiful boat, and we have the greatest of friends. We both like our jobs and earn decent money and live close to family members on both sides. I really have no complaints. Except when we visit Europe and see the efficiency with which they do things – the transportation, city design, road design, immaculate public spaces. There are no ugly parking garages – these are built underground where they are easy to access and you don’t waste valuable space. There’s also their appreciation for languages, culture and history. And they never leave the house looking anything less than fabulous. We went grocery shopping today and there was a lady there wearing what looked like a two piece housecoat and furry slippers. Others wore filthy pants, baseball caps turned backwards, and sweat pants. You just don’t see this in Europe. People take care in their appearance. It matters to them.
This does not come without a cost though. Taxes in Europe are generally much higher than here. People live in tiny homes and don’t generally have much space to themselves. Many don’t have vehicles. The public realm necessarily plays a much larger role in people’s lives.
I always like to do a little post trip analysis on the finances to know what our daily spending was like. Excluding flights the trip cost us about $160 per person per day which covered all expenses. Oh, and with the help of the Health app on Ana's phone, I know that we walked for an average of 10 kilometers per day.
Thank-you France for treating us so well, sharing your country with us, and being such a great host!
I will finish with some thoughts on Europe versus Canada using my rose coloured glasses, fresh off an amazing trip where we experienced all of the wonders and few of the everyday nuisances.
Europe is shared spaces; Canada is private property.
Europe is user pays; Canada is nobody pays while everybody pays.
Europe builds things to last; Canada takes the lowest bidder.
Europe preserves the past; Canada rips out and rebuilds
Europe is small and dense; Canada is massive and sparse
Europe celebrates languages; Canada wars over them