I just got back from my first (short) trip to Europe. It’s a huge and very diverse continent obviously, so I don’t pretend to have amazing insights… but I’d say my personal world-view has been very broadened. I made it to Paris, Barcelona, Sicily, Naples, Rome, Nice, and Florence. The people were uniformly very friendly (even Paris wasn’t bad).
Quick short list of observations. Note that all of the below comments are shallow observations, and not arrogant judgements (really!).
The Italians are a wonderful people, but Italy is not such a wonderful country. Run-down, poorly managed, and far less prosperous than expected… especially considering its the home of so many great premium luxury brands. Ran into many, many mainland Chinese tourists here… all of whom were surprised at how poorly Italian cities compared to Chinese cities. But they do make great footballers.
Barcelona was beautiful. Not a bad word to say. Took the Spanish hotel train from Barcelona to Paris… blah. Not very impressed.
Paris central planning is brilliant. Amazing blend of history and modernity. China really, really could learn much from Paris in the construction of its cities. Mainland Chinese tourists here were uniformly impressed (unlike Italy). On the other hand, Parisian suburbs really are run-down and impoverished as well. And is it really so difficult to add air-conditioning to the subway system?
All in all, saw far more mainland Chinese tourists on this trip than any other Asian “variety”. During the same time I was here, one of my uncles/aunts set foot outside China for the first-time with a one-week trip to Moscow/St. Petersburg. Watch out world: the flood of Chinese tourists is starting to rise.
It’s amazing how much I also learned about China and the US just by stepping foot in Europe for a couple of weeks. Those who don’t travel internationally extensively are really missing out. ~mental note to self~
Hey, you missed the most beautiful and modern part of Europe, namely Scandinavia
I’ve lived in the UK for hte past 8 years and I’m not overly impressed, it’s actually not that dissimilar to the parts of Taiwan I’ve visited.
Most of Europe is very much a mix of old and modern, with the old stuff just getting older and the new stuff looking out of place most of the time as it doesn’t mix with the old.
I guess it’s really a matter of personal preference, but there are loads of nice places in Europe and loads of crappy places, just like every other country in the world.
You’ve only had a small taste of what southern Europe has on offer and there’s so much you’ve missed. But I guess that’s the downside of being a tourist, you never have enough time to see everything
Definitely, I’m very humble in understanding that I’ve seen only a small slice of Europe (for that matter, a very small slice of Italy/Spain/France). I just wanted to document my impressions as a first-time visitor.
Now, I can better understand the criticisms coming from some Western observers that China isn’t doing an adequate job of preserving her historical heritage. Having never been to Europe, my experiences in the West were shaped by the US… which, in reality, has very little “historical heritage” to preserve. In Europe, really was remarkable how structures 200-500 years old were so functional, and so well-integrated into the fabric of the city. I don’t know if those lessons can directly apply to China, since our “historical” buildings so far predate the industrial revolution… but it’s definitely inspirational.
But yes, whereas in Paris I saw functional antiquity, I felt Italy (with the exception of Tuscany) was more decaying modernity. Roads in decline, third-world living conditions, wild dogs roaming the streets… whenever I visit a new place, I like to half-jokingly imagine myself living/working there. I could somewhat imagine living in Paris; I couldn’t imagine living/working in Italy (despite the wonderful people (women!).)
And I do look forward to visiting the Scandinavian countries some day! But in all honesty, I wouldn’t know what to look forward to. When I imagine the Scandinavian countries, all that comes to mind is sitting around in hot springs smoking narcotics. What does a tourist do when visiting?
Interesting persepctive cctang.
Actually I’ve only been to Europe, well, Paris alone at that, once myself. Not speaking French, I found the number of mainland Chinese in that city a perfect blessing. Ask a Frenchman for directions and they’d give you a vague hand gesture, ask a Chinese in Mandarin and they would tell you exactly how many lights and where to turn, etc.
Of course, it’s not just Europe that’s filling with mainland tourists. The numbers of independent Chinese travellers in Thailand and flights from second-tier Chinese cities is truly staggering.
Gee… hot springs… that might be Iceland, but the rest of us don’t have those…
There are loads of things to do and all of the countries are different.
A couple of links to Stockholm - stockholmtown.com/Default.as … anguage=EN
Sorry, not available in Chinese, yet, but supposedly there’s a huge influx in Chinese tourists, so that’s likely to change.
There’s loads of stuff to see and do, but neither country - well except Denmark maybe - is very densly populated except in the cities.
Sweden is great if you like hiking or canoeing, as you can go pretty much anywhere and camp out as we have a law that allows you to do this.
It’s a very different corner of the world
Although, I suggest you go in the summer time, when it’s close to 24h sunshine and nice and warm, as it can get really cold in the winter and it’s not that much sunlight during that time of the year.
Appreciate the links! And wow, I think you underestimate the Swedish tourism folks… see:
But if you’re going to keep the Chinese happy, they better update that site with a few Chinese restaurants, too!
For Canadian teachers in Taiwan, the same thing could probably be said.
Well, I guess so. I mean, I suppose twenty cheap bastards sharing joints in a two bedroom apartment and too miserable to turn on the aircon is a hot spring of sorts.