Thursday, 4 October 2012
Holiday Observations – US vs UK
I have returned!
I got back to Blighty on Tuesday but jetlag is killing me at the moment and I am struggling for any energy to do anything, except at 3 in the morning – yes, I was up in the early hours of this morning re-basing my Nurgle Terminators!
I'd like to thank everyone who commented on the scheduled posts, especially those of you who gave advice on my San Francisco post at the beginning of my holiday – I did manage to read the comments on the odd occasion we had wi-fi for the iPad and some of them were very useful.
In the absence of any hobby-related stuff, I thought I'd share some of my observations from the holiday, the differences between the UK and US. These observations will be unavoidably skewed – things differ across a given country and you are treated differently as a tourist.
In the UK we like to think we are the epitome of good manners and that Americans are loud, brash individuals with no concept of courtesy. Alas this is not true. I find most Brits live in a bubble, with no idea what good manners are and how to treat the people around them. We don't generally talk to strangers, to the point of ignoring people stood around us. The "Have a nice day!" cliche that we have about Americans may be true but it extends beyond the service/retail industry. I found strangers you share a lift with, or individuals that cross your path during a given day will wish you the same good fortune – something unheard of in the UK and something that leaves you remarkably upbeat. The other cliche that all Americans are obese, lazy types is also about as accurate as the idea that all Brits wear Bowler hats and know the Queen personally. I witnessed more obese, lazy individuals in my walk into Folkestone town centre just now than I did during the entire duration of my holiday.
I have a bug bear when it comes to UK drivers. I rarely see an indicator used these days and middle lane campers seem to be on the increase too. Patience is almost non-existent and road rage is a growing phenomenon. I found driving in the US a pleasant change. The roads over there may be (from what I witnessed) in generally a poor state but traffic travels at a slower speed (even those breaking the limit) and once you get used to the undertaking there seemed little to stress you out. There are exceptions of course, and city driving was a nightmare, but as someone who often gets cross when driving I was most chilled. My experience driving an automatic wasn't great – it was like driving a go-cart and it was constantly struggling to find the right gear. It might have been me but give me a gear stick every time (I'm not a control freak honest!).
My previous experience of food in the States was ridiculously sized meals that a skinny Brit was never going to finish in a week. This time round things were different. Meal portions were much more appropriate and I rarely left the plate dirty. Aside from a couple of excellent evening meals out I did find the quality of meals not up to scratch. Our choice of venues perhaps as we did find some superb cuisine while we were there. Also, how can it be that my two favourite Ben & Jerry ice cream flavours left the vendor at the B&J store scratching his head?!! He'd never heard of them!
We did watch a bit of TV during our stay and I have to say I'll stick to Sky thank you very much. Adverts every 10 minutes, tv programmes starting literally as the credits from the previous show were still rolling, over the top presenters and news readers who constantly fluff their lines made for pretty poor viewing. Ironically most of the show we watch here in the UK come from the States but it was quite painful at times watching tv over there. TV adverts were the comic relief, however, even when they are meant to be serious – so shallow in their creativity and often full of doom and gloom.
One of my favourite evenings whilst over in the States was spent sitting at a bar, drinking Miller Lite, eating a Philly Cheesesteak and watching American Football surrounded by genuine football fans of all ages. The barman was great to chat to and have a bit of banter with. I will miss that.
I wasn't particularly taken with the city. Napa Valley was superb contrast and so laid back and calming. Yosemite was simply amazing, and the scale of nature in that place makes you really re-evaluate how you perceive the world around you.
I would love to move to the States – not necessarily to any of the locations we visited, but I definitely like the idea. The grass is always greener, isn't it!