I just got back from a trip to Europe, and have a few notes I found interesting. Itinerary: we flew from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Amsterdam, and then Prague.
There’s no recycling in Cleveland – to be sure, I even asked an employee where I could recycle my drink bottle and he said “oh, just throw it in the trash.” Philadelphia Airport had thorough recycling – with separate containers. Amsterdam gets its own paragraph. Needless to say, recycling is available in Amsterdam (except in the “travel-to-America” section). Upon return, we landed at the Akron-Canton Airport, which does recycle. What’s up, Cleveland?
We had a few hours in Philadelphia, so I look my husband to see the town. We both appreciate history, and especially the freedoms our founding fathers had in mind when they created this country. After our experience in the Cleveland Airport, I bought a pocket Constitution to comfort me for the remainder of the trip. Philadelphia is a beautiful city, where public transportation is used by anyone who isn’t already riding their bike. The streets are 2 lanes, so cars are bothersome. I wish we had more time there.
As we flew into Amsterdam, we saw fields of windmills generating power for this coastal city. The air was crisp and clean, and the city was just beautiful. We saw many more windmills in the city, and a fantastic irrigation system for the fields. I’m sure the food there was deliciously fresh!
Our final destination was the free country of the Czech Republic. Prague was just as beautiful as anything we imagined. And talk about public transportation! … We rode the tram, train, or bus throughout the city and found public transportation to be clean, safe, stress-free and overall enjoyable, even in a foreign language.
Recycling is available everywhere. Trash cans (and trucks) are noticeably smaller than recycling containers.
I especially loved the local markets that were specialized. Instead of going to a one-size-fits-all shop for your culinary desires, you can go to the fruit and vegetable market for the freshest produce, the bread store for delectable pastries and loaves, and the cheese store for dairy treats. There were locally-owned, specialty shops for everything you need. For convenience, all-in-one shops are also plentiful. It’s nice to have choices. How could I forget the tea shops? They were delightful!
The cuisine was largely meat-based, but we were able to find great vegetarian options everywhere we went. Our best discovery (our friend took us there) was an Afghan restaurant. Delicious!
We took a train to Dresden and Leipzig for a day trip. These beautiful German cities demonstrated reduce and reuse, and everyone rode bikes. It was fantastic. After the US firebombed Dresden in WWII, the city decided to rebuild itself using the same bricks that were used in the original buildings. They had to incorporate some new bricks, and the result is a city full of charred-black and new-white speckled churches and city buildings.
The train stations were nearly the highlight of this trip. They were so clean and efficient. The Leipzig train station doubles as a 2-story shopping mall. The food here was also good, but heavy, with lots of cheese and everything fried. Good thing we took public transportation so we were forced to walk off our calories.
Because of “security” rules, we weren’t as environmentally responsible as we would like. Therefore, we drank a lot of bottled water, and even had to use styrofoam. We refilled our bottles whenever we could, but were forced to go through so many security checks – despite never leaving an airport – that we consumed and disposed of many bottles. One time we bought bottled water, but it was warm and tasted like plastic, so I dumped it out and filled it with drinking fountain water. Ha! It was unfortunate that we aren’t allowed to stick to our ideals. In the future, we will bring our empty bottles and have them filled inside the airport (if we’re lucky), and bring our mugs for coffee and tea. Do you think I’m allowed to bring my bpa-free metal bottle? I’ll try it.
Overall, it was a wonderful trip. We learned a lot about history, experienced the joy of public transportation, and saw some good friends. I can’t wait to get back!