And now, having returned from our five-week odyssey, here are:
Jill's Top Ten things I missed from home (besides my husband):
10--Air conditioning. Yep. Spoiled.
9--A washer and dryer any time I want them. With instructions in English. You haven't truly had fun until you've tried to figure out how to wash your clothes in Italian. The buttons on the machine are not at all self-explanatory.
8--My big computer screen and internet service. Now, I can see my vacation pictures without having to scroll down the screen for each one. Most of my friends have seen my pictures on Facebook before I actually have. Besides, netbooks were not made for eyes of a certain age, which cannot read that tiny print very well. Hence all the typos I made.
7--Free public restrooms in abundance. When you've gotta go, it's either fifty cents or go to a restaurant and buy a drink to use their bathroom. Which kind of defeats the purpose. Maybe it's a conspiracy.
6--Being able to read whether I'm buying shampoo or depilatory in the grocery store. It does really matter.
5--My bed! Not a hard hostel bed buy my soft, gently waving water bed. I love you.
4--Water, out of my fridge, for free, anytime. With ice. I cannot believe I've taken water for granted.
3--My kitties and dog. Even if I just had to clean more hair off the furniture than should come off a pride of lions in five weeks, let alone three cats and a dog. I missed them.
2--My clothes. Any clothes other than the four outfits I have been wearing for five weeks. I'm talking the extra-large T-shirts I usually reserve for painting in are looking good right now.
1--No smoking in public!! Oh, thank you for US smoking laws! I am ever so grateful. Really. It is so different when that is what you're used to.
But not to be forgotten--Jill's Top Ten List of things she will miss from Europe:
10--All the British schoolchildren in trains who gave her a terrible urge to go home and watch Harry Potter.
9--Being able to take a five-minute ride to another country, just to take a picture and say you've been there.
8--Easy and clean pubic transportation. Except during Italian transport strikes. We are so far behind in this aspect.
7--The sense of and appreciation for history. They have paintings older than our entire country.
6--The sense, in Southern Europe at least, that we are not controlled by the clock but vice versa.
5--Flower stalls on the street. It makes your day happier just to see them.
4--Fruit stands on the street as well. You get to talk to the people involved in producing your food. Plus, there is no excuse for not having fresh fruit.
3--The attitude in most of Europe that, if you do something stupid, you probably shouldn't have been doing it. Contrasted with the American attitude that, if you get hurt or inconvenienced, someone else is to blame and must be sued. It was rather refreshing.
2--Having people be surprised I'm an American. Sorry to say, but that was generally a compliment. The stereotypical loud American tourist, in volume and in dress, is alive and well.
1--Meeting people on trains, in restaurants, yes, even in campgrounds who want to talk to strangers and share stories. Americans want to be isolated. Why is that? Some of our best moments were had talking to complete strangers at the next table or sharing photo albums with the funny French couple we met on a walk. I don't do that at home. Maybe I should look for it more often?
More on some of these next time . . . it's good to go, and it's good to come home. I think that's the way it should be.