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Old 08-07-2012, 08:37 PM
 
Location: Beautiful Niagara Falls ON.
10,016 posts, read 12,578,968 times
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I have been to all 48 states south of the Canadian border many times. My wife and I drove around the entire contental USA for 5 years. YOU HAVE A GREAT GREAT COUNTRY. There are more wonders than you could ever take in. There is incredible diversity and beauty. There is not one single state that I don't love in it's own way. many people laugh when watching the American political conventions when the delagates say "From the great state of -----". well, it's accurate, they are all great states from the smallest to the largest. I love Rhode Island and the providence plantations, Did you know that's the real name of RI.??? The smallest state with the biggest name. I love the biggest state east of the Mississippi, Georgia. It's an empire all on it's own and how about that Empire state it's self N.Y. It's just 5 minutes away from my front door. I can say just like Sara Palin. "I can see the USA from my house", the thing is I actually can.
People just don't have a clue about the USA. Like what do they think of when they hear N.J.? I think of Cape May and the beach at Atlantic city. I'll tell ya, we don't have anything like that in Canada.

Have you ever been to Oregon? It's like a bit of heaven on earth that state is. I sat up on top of Mt. Hood all one day just loving the incredible miniture alpine vegetation. I sat on the beach on top of a 200 ft high sand dune watching sand drifting down the beach like a Canadian snowstorm, just incredible. All of the volcanic stones laying on the beach polished like gems by that sand, I have a big collection of them on my dresser, about 25 pounds of them.

Now I could go on and on like this about every state in your incredible country. I just love them all.
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Old 08-07-2012, 09:08 PM
 
Location: CHICAGO, Illinois
934 posts, read 1,441,390 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lucknow View Post
I have been to all 48 states south of the Canadian border many times. My wife and I drove around the entire contental USA for 5 years. YOU HAVE A GREAT GREAT COUNTRY. There are more wonders than you could ever take in. There is incredible diversity and beauty. There is not one single state that I don't love in it's own way. many people laugh when watching the American political conventions when the delagates say "From the great state of -----". well, it's accurate, they are all great states from the smallest to the largest. I love Rhode Island and the providence plantations, Did you know that's the real name of RI.??? The smallest state with the biggest name. I love the biggest state east of the Mississippi, Georgia. It's an empire all on it's own and how about that Empire state it's self N.Y. It's just 5 minutes away from my front door. I can say just like Sara Palin. "I can see the USA from my house", the thing is I actually can.
People just don't have a clue about the USA. Like what do they think of when they hear N.J.? I think of Cape May and the beach at Atlantic city. I'll tell ya, we don't have anything like that in Canada.

Have you ever been to Oregon? It's like a bit of heaven on earth that state is. I sat up on top of Mt. Hood all one day just loving the incredible miniture alpine vegetation. I sat on the beach on top of a 200 ft high sand dune watching sand drifting down the beach like a Canadian snowstorm, just incredible. All of the volcanic stones laying on the beach polished like gems by that sand, I have a big collection of them on my dresser, about 25 pounds of them.

Now I could go on and on like this about every state in your incredible country. I just love them all.
Thank you so much for all the kind words!!! I have visited Canada before (just Vancouver) and was blown away by how beautiful it is!! However, I would love to tour around Ontario or Nova Scotia someday. I've heard they have nice trains that can take you all over the Canada.

lol every time I see Sarah Palin, I can only see Tina Fey. "I can see Russia from my house!"
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Old 08-08-2012, 03:13 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,026 posts, read 24,628,555 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tezcatlipoca View Post
This was always something I actually associate with Europe. The two cities around me, Baltimore and DC, give way to undeveloped areas and farmland not that far from the city center. But I remember London and Rome for going on forever...
I've never been to any of the US cities famous for sprawling though.
It's not really cities I am thinking about ( though Urban sprawl still features highly in my experience) as much as smaller towns which always seem to have that utterly depressing endless run of motels, malls and really ugly commercial buildings.

Because the US is so huge and land has never seemed much of an issue I suppose there is a cavalier attitude but I always find it amazing that you always seem to find this almost "clone sprawl" almost anywhere in the US.

The concept of high density development seems to be utterly lost on American Urban Planners I feel. You could fit those commercial developments usually on a 10th of the land. It seems very inefficient but I suppose it is a cultural observation more than anything. My Husband is a Town Planner and apparently some places in the US are starting to show interest in a more European model of what Americans call "smart planning" which is about using the land more efficiently and having higher density of certain types of development.



I spent a month in Santa Fe two years ago and I could not believe such a small town ( barely bigger than my small market town here in the UK ) went on and on and on. We were staying pretty much in the Historic centre which is beautiful and then every time we needed to go from one end of the city to the other ( like wanting to shop or going to a live music event ) we had to drive over 10 miles pretty much. It was this endless soul-less stretch of typical urban sprawl which spoilt this beautiful and stunning environment in what is essentially one of America's prettiest cities.

Especially with that natural backgrounds of mountains and gorgeous scenery. And this is repeated all over the US pretty much. Hubby and I know exactly where the motels, fast food joints, malls and cinemas will be pretty much anywhere in America. If we just head out of whatever the main heart of a town/city is we will find it.



I think you are mixing up suburbs ( which in many European cities as you quite rightly say are pretty hideous too !) with urban sprawl which to me is completely different. Not places where people live but where people shop. Purely commercial entity. Mind you Europe is heading that way too but fortunately we don't have the luxury of that much land wastage which is a saving grace IMO.

And yes suburbs can be horrid, especially when poorer people end up forced out of city centres by rising real estate prices and end up shoved out of the way in areas which in essence become ghettoes. The flip side of land rarity.

I think a balance between the two models could be found though.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:33 AM
 
Location: Wonderland
67,650 posts, read 60,925,505 times
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To be honest with you, many Americans don't WANT "higher density" and find much of Europe's towns to be interesting, but a bit claustrophobic.

We have a lot of space - we like it that way. My yard is an acre, and I live in a "suburb" - that is, a neighborhood of nothing but homes - no shops, no street lights -just homes. My dogs have a huge yard to play in and they love it. I am close but not too close to my neighbors. Shopping and restaurants and theaters are about 2 miles away and I want to keep them that far away.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:40 AM
 
Location: Oxford, England
13,026 posts, read 24,628,555 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KathrynAragon View Post
To be honest with you, many Americans don't WANT "higher density" and find much of Europe's towns to be interesting, but a bit claustrophobic.

We have a lot of space - we like it that way. My yard is an acre, and I live in a "suburb" - that is, a neighborhood of nothing but homes - no shops, no street lights -just homes. My dogs have a huge yard to play in and they love it. I am close but not too close to my neighbors. Shopping and restaurants and theaters are about 2 miles away and I want to keep them that far away.
Don't get me wrong I don't necessarily have any problems with residential suburbs and in fact American ones can be far nicer than European ones but it is the commercial strips of endless sprawl which really depress me. But as I said if you have the land and nobody minds then it is fine I suppose. I think it is the relentless nature of the strip "malls" and their sameness no matter where you are in the US which seems to me rather alien.

The idea of people having larger homes with bigger yards and more landscaped neighourhoods isn't really what people mean when they talk of "Urban sprawl". We do home exchanges to the US every year and have stayed in some pretty lovely suburbs ! The commercial sprawl though... not so keen .
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Old 08-08-2012, 01:58 PM
 
175 posts, read 273,881 times
Reputation: 148
Can we take a vote that somehow makes this world forum more diverse? I'm absolutely sick of talking about american all the time. Why not thake some of this to the US thread?
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Old 08-08-2012, 02:12 PM
 
Location: IL
2,987 posts, read 5,250,398 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by erikthealien View Post
Can we take a vote that somehow makes this world forum more diverse? I'm absolutely sick of talking about american all the time. Why not thake some of this to the US thread?
You should start a new post.
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Old 08-09-2012, 04:42 AM
 
Location: Paris, France
326 posts, read 1,041,084 times
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I have only been to the United States twice: once on a 2-week trip in NYC and Virginia (including DC), and another flying visit to NYC.

New York totally lived up to the hype to me – I have been to other major world cities (Hong Kong, Dubai, Istanbul) and lived in both London and Paris, New York really felt like the centre of the universe. This surprised me somewhat, as you read so much nowadays about how it's lost its edge thanks to restrictive immigration policies, and how London is now more open and cosmopolitan – but I didn't feel this at all. London and Paris felt slightly parochial in comparison. You get the impression that absolutely NOTHING fazes New Yorkers.

I was surprised at the squalor of the public infrastructure (subways, buses, public squares) compared to the opulence of the private (offices, bars, restaurants) – as I'd always had the impression that NY was a bit more lefty than the rest of the US. Paris is the opposite – public toilets are often nicer than those in restaurants! The tube/métro are SO much cleaner and more efficient – the only source of public information on the subway seemed to be tramps and hobos! However I was surprised at the extensive gentrification in Manhattan – even Harlem felt vibrant and lively, if not prosperous – though I never ventured to the Bronx or Queens. Buildings are generally a lot more dilapidated in poorer areas of Paris/London. The natural setting of NYC – on the harbour and all those islands – is spectacular, and something that doesn't get talked about enough. It beats landlocked London and Paris hands down. I visited in summer both times – and contrary to what I'd been lead to believe found the climate pleasant and warm without being too hot and muggy.

DC was quieter and leafier than I was expecting. Definitely not a world city. I was surprised at the amount of intact Victorian architecture there is in both DC and NYC – your impression in Europe from the movies is that everything in the US is brand new, which is just not true.

The rest of the state of Virginia did live up to my image of the US – vast distances, strip malls, big cars, big people, fast food everywhere! Another thing that struck me was that everything has a slightly 1990s feel – the malls, the fonts used on public signage… Other things surprised me; the summer climate and the scenery are gorgeous : constant Mediterranean sunshine but with lush green almost English scenery. With smaller roads and more thoughtful development (less random sprawl) it would be a paradise – it seems a shame to spoil that countryside with pointless freeways and parking lots all the time, this would never be allowed in the UK where we are much more careful with our space.

Generally though I was surprised at how unspoilt some of it is, particularly in the mountains – you can see for miles across virgin forest: in Europe, it is much more densely populated so similar vistas are always peppered with villages and roads and farms.

The food in New York and DC I found to be amazing (which I expected) but Virginia sadly was disgusting – all fast food and even when you found the odd independent guesthouse and café the portions were obscene and tasted like cardboard.

Obviously these are just random musings, and totally subjective. I'm sure someone will come back saying that New York was actually a big let down and that you can eat really well in Virginia!

Would be interested to hear what Americans' thoughts were on first visiting the UK/Europe?
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Old 08-10-2012, 08:46 PM
 
Location: Wonderland
67,650 posts, read 60,925,505 times
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I've never been to the UK but I did live in Germany for several years.

My first impressions were exactly this:

1. The air smelled different. Not better, not worse, just different.

2. The sky was a LOT "smaller." (I moved from Texas.) Not sure why that was, but it felt that way.

3. The trees grew differently.

4. The traffic was INTENSE and seemed to be moving at the speed of light on the autobahn - and agonizingly slow in the countryside and towns.

5. I had a little freak out moment when the reality of everything - EVERYTHING -being written in German hit me. I got over that, but it was really unsettling for a few days.

6. Frankfurt was a typically dirty, smoggy big city, but as soon as we got out into the little towns and villages, I was immediately struck by how pristine everything was. I loved the white lace curtains and window boxes full of geraniums. I loved to see the bedding airing in those windows while a hausfrau scrubbed the front porch with a big, soapy brush.

7. I enjoyed shopping in the grocery stores, which were quite different from those in the US. Different foods, great cheeses and sausages and meats, different looking packaging, and all sorts of odd herbal remedies and things like that. And of course I loved the bakeries and butcher shops and open air markets in the quaint little town squares. Shopping for food was always a delightful adventure.

8. I found the people to be VERY friendly - in an official interaction, like with a store clerk or waitstaff or some sort of appointment. People just generally on the street though were often pushy and rude - it wasn't uncommon to have someone push past me and say gruffly, "STUPIDISCHE AMERIKANER!" or "Dumkopf!" But - considering that I saw them doing that to other Germans with just as much regularity made me quickly realize that they are just generally an outspoken, rather brash people, who do not tolerate what they consider to be foolishness or ineptitude.

But like I said, these were complete strangers and in situations where I really had nothing to do with them. One on one, or in a professional situation, they were without exception friendly, polite, helpful, and boisterously curious about Americans and Texans. I like the German people.

9. I was struck by the quality of their workmanship on nearly everything they build or manufacture.

10. Germany, and in fact all of central Europe, seems crowded and sort of condensed to me. But the people really seem to enjoy life - the simple pleasures like an excellent cup of coffee, or a simple volksmarch through the countryside with friends and family. In fact, I really like their emphasis on the environment and keeping their precious stretches of rolling hills and woods intact. Unlike Americans, they do not have the luxury of wasting space.

Those are just a few of my MANY impressions - mostly my first impressions. Overall, I very much enjoy and respect visiting Central Europe - France, Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, the Netherlands. (don't care for Austria at all) I like the people, and the customs, and the beautiful architecture and countryside. The sense of history is amazing and pulls at me everywhere I go. I have spent hours and hours exploring ancient ruins, and hope I get to spend many more hours in my life doing just that again.
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Old 08-11-2012, 05:30 PM
 
Location: Duluth, Minnesota, USA
7,639 posts, read 18,125,272 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by britinparis View Post
Would be interested to hear what Americans' thoughts were on first visiting the UK/Europe?
By the time I actually went to Europe I was as well-versed on what I would see there as probably 90% of people who had already been there, so not much came as a surprise. But:

1. The people were consistently well-dressed. They did not dress in a particularly exotic style, but much as American upper middle-class "yuppies" (or white Manhattanites) dress.

2. The lack of ethnic restaurants across Spain. Even in the capital city's yellow pages, listings for restaurants serving food from the various regions of Spain vastly outnumbered restaurants serving foreign cuisines. Despite the large ethnic communities found in some places throughout Spain (Ecuadorians, Pakistanis, etc.), few restaurants serving those types of cuisine could be found. In American cities (at least core cities), about 25% of restaurants are "normal" and the rest serve cuisines from around the world, e.g. Indian, Ethiopian, Japanese, Chinese, Thai, etc.

3. The role played by "bares" in Spanish culture. "Bars" in the U.S. are generally places devoted to the consumption of alcohol; usually bar food is a second thought (although an increasing number of bars are known for their food) and you feel weird NOT ordering alcohol. Children or teenagers are rarely seen in them, and might even be prohibited from entering them by local laws. In Spain, bars are more places of socialization, and have excellent snack food from my experience (bocadillos especially). Groups of children can be seen in bares and they probably serve lots of non-alcoholic beverages, e.g. coffee, during the day.

4. The apparent uniformity of some aspects of the culture. Food is one, bares are another, etc. Spanish people seem content with less diversity and more "normalcy" than Americans, or there is less of an "alternative" / "esoteric" sector in the Spanish population.

5. The lack of choice in soft drinks. In most American gas stations, there is a myriad selection of pops in both diet and regular varieties. In Spain, there is...Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, Fanta (usually in one flavor), and a few local "Kas" drinks. Nothing else. And those soft drinks seem half the time to be destined towards mixing with alcohol.

6. The cliquishness of Spaniards. Spaniards always seem to be in groups. This can make them seem standoffish and cold for a solo traveler, as their social needs are met by the group and they have no reason to interact with you. However, when they are alone, or with only one other person, they are often friendly, perhaps even more than Americans.

7. How little traffic is on the non-urban autopistas (freeways). In the cities, there is congestion that rival similar-sized American cities, but outside of them, there are shockingly few people traveling between cities in private vehicles, despite the autopistas being toll-free (as far as I know). The little traffic you see mainly consists of buses and trucks.
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