Friday, January 13, 2012

Travel Bug - Friendly Countries

It's time I let you in on my little secret. I've been reading a blog called The Mellow Jihadi for several months now and really enjoying his sense of humor and stories. His links are interesting too. Today, he shared this link on the World's Friendliest Countries. The United States ranked 5th behind New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and Canada - in that order. Read the article for the criteria, but I found it interesting. It was not just the friendliness of the people, although that is important, it is also the ease of everyday life - fitting in and adjusting to life in a different country.

Personally, I don't see how any country that drives on the wrong side of the road could rank higher in best places to live over places like the USA and Canada. Although, I found Scotland very friendly, it took me the whole month we were there just to get used to crossing the street. Italians drive on the right side of the road, but, Lordy, just driving to the grocery store was an adventure. Road signs, stop lights, speed limits, lane markers were more like guidelines rather than laws. You really had to spit in your hat before getting behind the wheel. Toby took to driving our go-kart (Fiat) in Italy like a duck to water - zipping around the Autostrade and city centres with ease. I was more like an orangutang with every finger and toe wrapped around the wheel. In Canada we did not have a car, because Calgary had such a great mass transit system. But when we have rented cars in Canada, the driving was easy and road systems were great.

Language and ease of everyday life were also factors in "Friendliest Countries." Of course, the language in Italy was a problem. Since I could only converse in the minimum of words, real conversations did not happen often. It made me a bit lonely and homesick for close friends. Although the Italian people were warm and friendly and very willing to attempt conversation. Wild hand gesturing, pointing at objects, calling friends who spoke English, using guide books, etc. were not beyond the Italians - I did love that about them. Although the Scottish say they speak English, sometimes we did not speak the same English. Once again, their friendliness out-weighed the language problems. By the end of our stay, I was ready to hear some good ol' Texas twang.

Money could also be a problem. Dealing with Euros was not a problem at the time we were in Europe - the exchange rate was pretty much the same (not so much now). It took me a while to figure out the Brit's money - why do they have to be so different? In Canada, the loonies and toonies were not a problem and the exchange rate was similar at that time. I could spend money with the best of 'em.

Each place I have visited had its own distinct beauty. I loved them all. Canada was so beautiful and friendly, I would love to visit there again. But I think I would not love winters there. Italy was also beautiful and had so many amazing places to see. I could live there for short periods, but the language and hassles of everyday life would make me crazy. Scotland - well, I'd like to do more exploring there. Winter was not idea for site-seeing. Nope, none of those places made me want to move permanently.

Toby's job has been good to let me travel with him and see places around the world and lots here in the USA. We may get to go to Norway soon, and that will be a treat too. But I like OK. It is true - there is no place like home. Gosh, do I sound like an old lady or what?

So, where would you want to live - where could you live?

16 comments:

Buck said...

Each place I have visited had its own distinct beauty. I loved them all.

That's pretty much the way I feel, as well. The ONLY place I've ever been that I didn't care for (all that much) was Russia, but I still found good things to enjoy there. Wodka and caviar... dirt-cheap, on both counts... come to mind. And the people were friendly, too. I've found that people are pretty much people, where ever you go. Treat them right and they'll treat you right.

As for where I'd like to live? London, hands down. Three years there wasn't near enough, and three trips back since I lived there only sharpened my desire. Did you know TSMP and I were actually looking at flats in London before we fell apart? We were going to split our retirement between London and somewhere in the US when the time came... but that time never did come. I'm glad (now) that we never pulled the trigger and bought a place in London.

Bag Blog said...

Buck,
My one day in London was not enough. I probably would have really loved it, too. Except, it is a city, and I am a country girl.

Barbara said...

Would love to spend more time in Scotland and northern part of England. Also, Lou, three words . . . Iphone translator app

NavyOne said...

Hmmmm, that Mellow Jihadi site is questionable at best. (Thanks for the link!)

Bag Blog said...

Barbara, I will see you in France.

NavyOne,
Questionable, yep, but sometimes ya gotta walk on the wild side.

Barbara said...

I am definitely planning a trip! Just waiting to see if they are taking reservations yet so I can book a flight this summer! LOL

Becky said...

I know what you mean about Italy. I learned to drive there. I mean, I learned to drive as a teenager in Texas, but I LEARNED TO DRIVE in Italy.

If I could live anywhere in the world, it would be Texas, because no matter where I go, or how long I'm gone, Texas will always be home.

Mary said...

This is a fascinating reflection, Lou. I love travel and remember very fondly our time living in Scotland in 1979 as a young family. I sometimes think that I understand myself and my own country (not to mention appreciating home!) much more deeply not just from traveling, but from being more immersed in other cultures at times. I am delighted to have found your blog (via your comment on Jo Castillo's).

Bag Blog said...

Mary,
Thanks for dropping by. Any friend of Jo's is a friend of mine.

Becky,
If you can drive in Italy, you can drive anywhere - for sure.

Sandra Jennings said...

Hay thank you for sharing this blog, Loved reading this.


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Jo Castillo said...

I can't speak for Europe or England. We thoroughly enjoyed South America. We considered retiring in Bolivia but it is just so darn far and without the Embassy support would make it harder. Canada is super as you say, we spent about nine summers there from Nova Scotia to BC and loved it all. But, as you say and know, there is no place like home.

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