Wednesday, July 2, 2008


You don't have to be in Europe long to realize that everything is smaller. Not people's world views or their politics or even their physical appearance, but their material positions, creature comforts and even food.

Cars are anywhere from 2/3 to 3/4 the size of American cars. Obviously this saves substantially on the use of gas which at least here in Holland is around $6.43 (US) per gallon (less than what we expected). They also use up a lot less space parking on the smaller European streets. The dishwasher in our house here is 1/2 the size of the one we have in our home in Cincinnati. This is not because this is a rental apartment as we are renting someone's house here -- it's just that the size of dishwashers here are smaller. Probably to fit into the smaller homes that people have here. While there are some single family homes, most homes are either apartments or attached homes (what we called row houses when I was growing up). The washer and dryer are also about 1/2 the size of what we have at home. Even the trash cans that we have in each of our rooms here looks like they came out of a Barbie house.

Whether you pick up food in the market or order in a restaurant, most of the food sizes are smaller. As for the food from the market, I'm guessing that quantities have to be smaller in order to fit into the smaller refrigerator that everyone has. No 2 liter botttles in those babies! But it's also true of food that you order to eat out and have no intention of bringing home to your small refrigerator. If you order a drink out, it comes in a bottle that is approximately 6 oz. If it is a drink in a glass, it's the skinniest glass that I have ever seen and again can't hold more than 6 oz. - and no free refills here!!!! Just about all drinks cost 2E each or the equivalent of $3.14 with our lousy exchange rate. Portion sizes of food in restaurants can vary just like in the US but actually I haven't noticed them to be too much smaller (Marty might disagree).

While some of these size differences are inconvenient at first you eventually become accoustomed to it and eventually start to see the advantages and practicalities of it. You don't shop at Kroger once a week and come home with 10 bags of groceries to last until you return again next week. You go to the market more frequently assuring that the food you eat is fresher as you buy it much more frequently. Laundry is done more often in the low energy, low water front loading washing machine but then you find that you are always doing a "full" load and not a partial load in order to get to that one item that you really need for the next day. Since many people often run their dishwasher every evening, isn't it nice that when you do run it every day regardless, it happens to be a full load and not just a partial load. Eating less and drinking less (except for water)is certainly not a bad idea. With obseity an American epidemic, we certainly could do with 6 oz. Coca Colas and no free refills!

Things that are not smaller here in Holland: Pancakes (about 15 inches in diameter, people (it appears that the average Dutch woman is 5'8" and average Dutch man is 6'2") and something that they call "American Muffins."

1 comment:

Samantha said...

Hi there!
I stumbled upon your blog today and have enjoyed reading your posts since your departure! I think your trip is a brave and novel idea, and that it will be a life-changing experience for all of you (but you already knew that)! My travel experience is minimal, but it was an enriching and rewarding time, and I will remember it always.
But because I am unfamiliar with your family, I was wondering if you could do a "background" sort of post, to let all of us who are unacquainted with you know your motivation and reasoning behind your trip, plus some of the logistical details.

It would be awesome if you could answer a few of my questions:
-Are you homeschooling your kids while you are away?
-Why did you choose the countries/cities you chose? After looking over your itinerary, I noticed that you did not include a few of the more iconic travel destinations such as London, Paris, Athens, etc. Is this because you have already seen these locations? Or is it because you just don't have time to see everything and you want to get the real "spirit" and "essence" of the country?
-Are you and your spouse employed while you are abroad? Or is this something you have just been saving up to do for years now?
-What inspired you to take this trip? Why now?

I hope you don't mind answering some of my questions. I admire you and your family for taking such a risk and doing what all of us would only dream to do.
Even though I am just now getting to know you through your blog, I am hooked! I can't wait to follow your journey across the world and discover as you discover.
You are an inspiration! :)