Obviously I was only in two small corners of Europe, so the post is about them and does not aim to generalize.
– a lot of nightlife both in a big city and a small town but it all feels extremely safe and friendly.
– no street harassment.
– smartphones are a lot less present in daily life, even among the young. I saw no kids with devices in public, and young people at coffee-shops would sit and talk without a phone in sight. There is a negative side to this, though. There are no places to charge your phone in public. People don’t even understand the concept.
– doner stands that are a refuge because the places I visited didn’t have amazing local food. There was a Turkish gentleman next to my hotel who was literally a savior with his great, great doner (shawarma in Russian.)
– fresh raspberries at a farmers’ market. They cost so much I almost had to take out a second mortgage on my house but they tasted absolutely divine.
– there are no children or young people who are even slightly overweight. There’s nothing like the US problem with child obesity. On the other hand, everybody smokes like a maniac, especially the young people. I haven’t seen people smoke this much in forever. Even the Spanish colleagues were shocked.
– young people don’t speak a whole lot of English. Most speak none at all.
– many young moms with babies everywhere in public spaces. Every biergarten has an army of high chairs for toddlers. But no daddies with babies in public places unless accompanied by mommy.
– European bedding is amazing. Blankets are heavy, not flimsy. Real duvet covers! None of that atrocious and unhygienic wrapping of a blanket in a sheet that tortures me at US hotels. (Do you realize that nobody washes the blanket after every guest leaves? They just wash the sheet. Your blanket was touching all sorts of places on all sorts of folks. Probably for months.)
– nobody talks about Trump. Nobody is apocalyptic. Even academics ridicule speech codes and PC culture.
– in Germany, people are weird about immigration. “In Dresden, where I live,” said one colleague, “there are so many immigrants. There are more immigrants than locals. And that’s fantastic!!! I love it! There should be more!!” she suddenly wailed with a nearly religious fervor. It would have been just as weird to hear her vociferate in the same fraught voice, “And that’s too many!!! They should all go away!” Unwarranted intense emotionality is creepy on any issue.
– food wasn’t great anywhere I went. It wasn’t horrible but I can eat better (healthier, tastier, cheaper) in my tiny town in Southern Illinois. And no, I didn’t go to tourist places. Locals took me to the most typical, everyday places far outside the tourist area.
– the railway system needs to be friendlier towards European travelers. Isn’t the whole point of the EU supposed to be that it’s easy to move between countries?
– Germans are unwilling to hear other Europeans when they say that the EU is not working for them. There is a tension here that’s not going to lead to a good place. Non-German Europeans feel dismissed and slighted on this issue.