Two Americans in Europe
At the time of composing this Jeanette & I are on a river cruise on the Danube. So far, we have visited Budapest, Bratislava & Vienna (Wien), all capitals of their respective countries. Broadening education is always a bi-product of travel. All of the countries we have visited are members of the EU. All three are quite small, both in area and population.
Hungary has about 8 million folks with just under 2 million residing in Budapest. Slovakia has about 5.5 million with about ½ million in Bratislava & Austria has about 8 ½ million with just under 2 million in Wein.
Hungary is about the size of Indiana, Slovakia is about the size of Mississippi & Austria is about the size of Maine.
Not all members of the EU are using the Euro. One prior member (the UK) chose to retain their currency, while others were not authorized to use the Euro because their economies were considered too weak. Hungary still uses the Florent, but almost all retailers accept the Euro. The official currency of both Slovakia & Austria is the Euro.
On a recent trip to Iceland our auto rental agent shared her view of US citizens. It was not that of the “ugly, loud American”, but that of naiveite. The more I travel the more that comment rings true.
America emerged from WW II as a superpower primarily because of a vibrant and growing economy. We were envied and admired by the rest of the world. We were considered to be number one in production (& productivity), technology, individual freedoms & standard of living. Many of us still believe that is true, but that is only a “belief” and not in touch with the facts. Unfortunately, we have been in a status decline for the past several decades. Our slide resembles the slide experienced by the UK that started over a 100 years ago. The UK was “the” superpower for several hundred years expanding their influence into America, Africa, India & Australasia (among others). Like many dominant countries & city states before them they eventually maxed out their influence and the decline commenced.
The US is still in the early stages of declining influence. The dollar, once the fall back currency for the entire world, is no longer accepted in most of Europe. If a country does not officially use the Euro, they always accept it as medium of exchange. While English is still the official 2nd language in most of Europe it is sobering to remember that is not ours and has its roots in the Germanic languages.
We have found most people here to be friendly and respectful, but not that interested in or concerned about goings on in the US. We do not seem to be the focus of their attention. The histories of these countries go back thousands of years. Borders have changed numerous times and all of have experienced numerous political systems.
stay tuned for more on this