See America First?

Watertown Travel Blog

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St. Peter's Basillica - Rome
I hear people ask why anyone would want to travel overseas when there is so much to see in their own backyard. Being a US citizen, I have heard this all of my life. My father, for example, said that he would never go to Europe before he had seen all of America. Then he went to Ireland. And England. And France. And then his philosophy changed. He loved what he saw in Europe. Unfortunately, when he died at age 81, he hadn't seen all of America. But he had seen most of it and he had seen some of the world, too.

So why should we travel to foreign lands? I think Americans should be required to go to other countries. And I don't mean Canada or the sun-drenched coasts of Mexico. I can't speak for others but I can say what this experience has done for me: it has opened my eyes to how some of the rest of the world views things.
Mt.Rushmore - South Dakota, USA
It has also required me to learn to accept things on other people's terms. I am a spoiled American - I am used getting what I want when I want it. Fast food is a small, but good example.

The first time I sat down at a sidwalk restuarant in Rome I was frustrated by how sloooooow the service was. There was so much dead time between courses. I had things to do and see. And the meal took over an hour and a half! Later, a light bulb went on and I now know that the Romans understand something that many Americans don't - food, friendships and conversations should be savored on a daily and prolonged basis.

I have learned many other things in my foreign travels - that the Japenese revere teachers, that the French are friendly and helpful, that beer tastes better in Prague, that gelato is the real reason I keep going back to Italy, and that the world is a big place and Watertown, SD, is just one small part of it.

I can't wait to get to Maine someday. (I've never been there.) But before I get to Maine, I will see Budapest, Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Is this wrong? I love America more because of my foreign travels but I also love the rest of the world more. If my dad were reading this, I think he would agree.

Travel Tip: Tipping in European Restaurants
In a word, you don't need to tip because a 10% or 15% service fee is already added into the price of the entrees. I've learned that the appropriate thing to do is to round up to the next full number. If something costs 4.50 Euros give the waiter 5 Euros and don't accept the change.
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St. Peters Basillica - Rome
St. Peter's Basillica - Rome
Mt.Rushmore - South Dakota, USA
Mt.Rushmore - South Dakota, USA
photo by: sshephard