I told a young fisherman wearing a Colorado sweatshirt, “I am from Colorado.”   His response was short and awkward, a clear tipoff that his English is as bad as my German.  That’s false advertising, dang it.

Tile-roofed homes on a hillside.

Veliko, Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Being unable to communicate with most locals, we cruisers satisfy our  curiosity by asking our guides about daily life.  The Hungarian said her health care is free except that she needs to tip the doctor in advance to have a better chance at good care.  I hope we aren’t headed down that road.

In Bulgaria a guide joked that money is so short that when a Bulgarian tells his friends about buying a new car, they ask, “what year is it?”

With money in such short supply, I wondered about the expensive tile roofs we see on almost every European house.  Our bartender explained that cheap roofing is false economy.  Tile roofs last a minimum of 40 years and make more sense in the long run.  Maybe that’s so.  Americans do tend to pay as little as possible for stuff, so we can buy a new whatever when the old one loses its shine.  Even our buildings are disposables compared to the Old Country’s.  It’s a shame to be so wasteful and unsustainable, but I’m sure glad we don’t have to nurse a 300 year old house into the next century.

About breathtakebyways

Ann Williams’ travel articles have appeared in publications all over the country including The Washington Post, Roads to Adventure, and Jack and Jill. Between researching and writing books, she specializes in creative lectures.