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Travel

el Guapo

Capitalist
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5,985
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29
I was sitting at my desk doing something mundane for one of our local communities when I had a flash back to my sweet days in Germany shooting down the autobahn at ludicrous speeds in a $2000 Ford. In my misspent youth I traveled quite a bit, twenty three counties that I can remember. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that in some of them my employer wanted me to break things and hurt the natives. But between bouts of state inspired violence I would look up and go “oh, that looks nice” or “humm…why don’t we do that in the States?” I felt lucky to get to see a bit of the world and I think that helps me look at issues in my practice with more openness to alternative ideas and solutions.

This got me to thinking, am I a better planner because of my travels? I think so. What are your thoughts concerning travel and planning?
 
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Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Yes indeed...

...travel makes us better planners, but also better people. As El Guapo knows from his days working for The Big Man, cultural intrussion is the soul of America and Americans abroad. That's precisely why I'm travelling to Bankok to retrieve my 14 year old mail order bride. She ain't that pretty but she can hold a mop just as good as any 'ol American bride...
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
19
In a couple of weeks I will be heading to London for about 4 days to test the theory that all roads in London lead to a pub. I am a pragmatist and must see / experience this for myself. Odds are 2:1 that I miss the flight home.

That aside, I do agree that travels--be it Europe or the next city--make us better planner. To see what others have done certainly helps us. And going to cities with centuries of history vs. decades of history allows us to see what planning decisions to emulate and which to ignore...how many cities name Pompeii are located at the base of volcanos anymore?!?
 

prudence

Cyburbian
Messages
688
Points
19
El Guapo-

I forgot to commend you on the new avatar you have chose. I don't feel so alone anymore...
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
BTurk?

Are you down on Americans going abroad?

One other thing....You say 14 year old mail order bride like it is a bad thing? ;)
 
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Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
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33
I'm not down on it at all...

Sorry to leave that negative impression! But some folks do have a habit of being "Ugly Americans" when abroad, and fail to acknowledge the cultural differences in a sensitive manner. Those of you that have been abroad have surely seen examples of it. I actually watched an American student in Britain go up to a remnant of the Roman Wall and chip off a piece to take home. He was all proud of himself. A**hole.

But enough about societal issues here - Examining the built environment of far away places is facsinating and I usually manage to bring something back to work with me (I am still trying to develop architectural design standards requiring Gothic architecture with mandatory use of the flying butress).
I am always shooting pictures of things that are boring to non-planners (my favorite these days is stealth wireless facilities!).

And the 14 year old is a good thing too - she's got lotsa years of chores left in her.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
I must agree

One thing people miss when referring to “Ugly Americans” is fact that so many other cultures travel poorly also. Every culture I have experienced has an ethnocentric point of view – without exception. They all think their ways and culture are best. Americans for the most part are the only ones that beat themselves up over the situation. Maybe Canadians too, but most of the people I met overseas that had Canadian flags on their backpacks were US liberals ashamed of being Americans.

Unfortunately, 18 year old men pumped on testosterone and with an excess of cash do not make for good ambassadors, no matter what country they are from. While overseas it is best not to travel/stay near an American garrison town because they will have worn out their welcome.

My goal was to leave Europe flat broke. I managed to spend every mark I made on travel and photos during my second three years there. I like to think I was observant of local customs and an excellent guest. I made a few mistakes while I was traveling, but nothing that was out of arrogance or rudeness. I did strike one British officer across the nose for making a snide comment about my Irish last name. But that was the only incident of hooliganism I am guilty of and he learned a valuable life lesson. We all came out of that incident winners. ;)
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
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17,556
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55
Nope ... never been overseas. I've got 39 U.S. states under my belt, a Canadian province, and a few Mexican states, but that's about it.

The "Ugly American" stereotype is just that -- there's so many of us that travel, so you can't help but see the worst of us. Americans as a while tend to be pretty low-key, I've heard, just to avoid being labeled an "Ugly American." When I was in Acapulco some years back, it seemed as if the "ugliest," loudest tourists were the Quebecois; most of the Yanks I saw were relatively reserved. If you really want to see ugly, check out Canadians in Buffalo. No offense, but Canadians are extremely vocal about their disdain for "Barfalo," "Burnalo," "The Mistake on the Lake," "Butt-f***-alo," "City of Fires," or any of a hundred other names I've heard folks from QEW-land use for my home. If youse hate Buffalo so much, why do you come down in busloads, sometimes just to do GROCERY SHOPPING at some mundane Tops or Wegmans? By the way, Gordy, it's 15% to 20% ... not 5%, okay? That might work at the Swiss Chalet in Mississauga, but don't pull that stuff off at Olive Garden or Pizzeria Uno in Amherst, okay?

Okay, flamethrower off. I really like Canadians, even Tranplanner ( :) ), but I wonder about that double standard -- be considerate of the locals, but not when you're in Buffalo.

Flights to London from Orlando are relatively cheap, though -- Orlando's filled with British tourists, and there's a lot of competition on cross-Atlantic routes. Australia and South Africa are on my must-see list, too, and I'd like to attempt to sneak into Cuba.
 

Cosmic

Cyburbian
Messages
33
Points
2
If the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail; Maslow

Travel is an absolute "must." I just got back from two weeks in London, England with a few jaunts into southeast England. Prior to this trip I have been trapped in North America for the last 10 years.

It is great to see that, "Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Clause." There are places on the planet that do things innovatively and well. They also can make huge mistakes (the new London City Hall across from the Tower of London looks like a multistorey glass egg from the latest Star Wars movie and its an urban design disaster).

They have a tube system that (despite local complaints) is clean, safe, efficient, moves huge numbers of people and has been operating for close to a hundred years and makes the place worth living. Beautiful historical respect and preservation. Vibrant streets full of people all evenings of the week. Great human scale and detail in urban design. A commitment to redevelopment and rural preservation. Some problems ... yes ... but also some great successes.

Europe is full of different cultures and languages and ways of doing things all within a relatively (from a North American standpoint) small area. There is so much to learn and so much that gives you some faith in what can be accomplished.

It is nice to have that occassional deep, sustaining breath of possibility between spending long months battling politicians and processing applications. When a politician says that it can't be done, you will know in your heart that it can be. You have seen it.
 
Messages
3,690
Points
27
When I was a senior in highschool, I was a Rotary Foreign Exch. Student and I was sent to Tres Cantos, a new Planned City outside of Madrid. It was an extremely cool and definitely formative experience.

As for other Americans abroad- on the occasional day that all the Rotary students across the city would get together and skip school to spend the day in El Retiro (big park in Madrid), we would first go to McDonalds to watch all the Americans order food. My favorite was the day a bus tour from Texas came in, all big belt buckles and hair and one ordered "Uno Hamburger-o" :)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,079
Points
34
I spent several months abroad in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq, courtesy of the US government. While most of the locals I met were very decent people, their cities were awful. El Paso, or even Juarez would be a vast improvement.

On the other hand, I've travelled most of the US and Canada, and usually bring a sketch pad and camera with me. I find most of my best ideas in smaller communities - town squares, older neighborhoods, etc. In larger towns, these features we might find in a new urban neighborhood have tended to be eaten up.

As for the Canadians - they are clean. Cross over from Soo Saint Marie to Sault Ste. Marie and you notice that even the gas stations have flower gardens in front. Compare that to the scraggly, half-dead juniper in a bed of lava rock that you are likely to see in the US. The Canadians also have more donut shops - the surest sign of an advanced culture.
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
I was on the same package tour

Mike,
Who were you with over there? I was with the 47th EOD (Ft. Hood, TX) assigned to the 1st AD. I helped blow up many of the ammo dumps that are now believed to a contributing cause of GWS.

Got GWS? I can't remember if I do. ;)
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Re: Ugly Canadians

Well, I'm not going to say that all Canadians are well-mannered, and respectful of other people's cultures, etc. In fact, I would think every country has it's share of good and bad travellers (I'm thinking of the brit "lager louts" in Spain as a particularly bad example).

As for the Buffalo thing - maybe it's something to do with "familiarity breeding contempt"? I know 10 years ago everybody and their sisters were heading across the border to do some shopping - groceries, gas, clothes, etc. Now that the Canadian peso has dropped about 20 cents in value, I don't see that happening. Instead, the influx is the other way, and we are overrun by Americans looking for bargains. I don't want to get into a shoving match over who has the worst tippers - my only personal opinion is that a gratiutiy is to be earned, no expected. Americans I think though generally have a reputation as good tippers, except for those who sneak out on their bills (I've seen it happen).

p.s. thanks Dan, it's nice to feel liked
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,079
Points
34
Attached - out of the Illinois National Guard at the time. I've left both the Army and the flatlands behind now.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Yes, but American has...uh..well, what do you guys have down there that we don't? Besides Mr. Pib that is? We've got Krispy Kreme now (gee, thanks)...I expect there must be oodles of junkfoods that don't make it up here. Oh - I know, Spicy V8! I can't find that up here at all.
 

Mary

Member
Messages
127
Points
6
A friend of mine who spent a lot of time over seas used to say the advantage of the Australians was that the Americans didn't look so bad anymore in comparison

Not a good statement for representatives of either culture I fear.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,079
Points
34
There are foods in the US that don't make it to other parts of the country. Anyone up north raised on grits? Outside of the upper midwest, how many people have eaten pasties or cheese curds? Know what I mean when I mention squeeky cheese? Jambalaya is catching on in other places now. How about a (real) Navajo taco? There is some great food out there that has not yet been homogenized, frozen and mass-distributed so that we can all eat the same.

I suppose I should admit this now. I am half Canadian. Yes, my mother was from Stoney Creek (near Hamilton). I've spent a lot of time in the great white north. I've always enjoyed it. Canadians are so... polite.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,556
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55
Tranplanner wrote:
Yes, but American has...uh..well, what do you guys have down there that we don't? Besides Mr. Pib that is? We've got Krispy Kreme now (gee, thanks)...I expect there must be oodles of junkfoods that don't make it up here. Oh - I know, Spicy V8! I can't find that up here at all.
Mountain Dew in the United States is legendary for having oodles of caffeine. In Canada, Mountain Dew is caffeine-free.

I can't find decent pizza in Canada -- anywhere. Edible, maybe, but nothing approaching what you would find in the States. On the other hand, Chinese food as served in Canada is more "authentic" than what you would typically find at #444 Lucky Happy Jade Panda Taste Good Gardens in an American strip plaza.

There seems to be a greater variety of cheese available in Canada than in the States.

Regardless of Krispy Kreme, donuts are far better north of the border than those in the States. Opening up KK in Canada is like shipping oil to Saudi Arabia. Now, if we had more Tim Hortons in the States ... :)



The quality of meat in Southern Ontario seems better than that in Buffalo -- but in the Rocky Mountain region and the Southwest, beef is a religous experience.

Canada has a strange collective fascination with Kit Kat bars, playing almost the same role that beef jerky does in rural areas of the United States. I don't quite understand it -- maybe the legacy of the legendary British love of candy and sweets, perhaps.

Macro-brewed Canadian beer (Molson, Labatts, etc) is superior to American mega-brews (Budweiser, etc.). However, U.S. microbrews blow Canadian suds out of the water. If God were a beer, He'd taste like Sam Adams Millennium.

Despite Upstate New York's horrible economy, grocery stores there are the best in North America. Canadian grocery stores are relatively ho-hum. (Please, Wegmans, come to Florida!)
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,079
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34
"If God were a beer, He'd taste like Sam Adams Millennium. "

Sam Adams? OK, but far from great. Try a New Glarus "Uff-da" Bock, a "Moosedrool" from Kalispell, MT, or Alaskan Amber. Now those are beers.

"There seems to be a greater variety of cheese available in Canada than in the States. "

Most of the states, perhaps. I gotta defend America's Dairyland. Stroll the farmer's market on the capitol square in Madison on a summer Saturday morning. There have to be forty different kinds of cheeses there alone. Try a 5-year sharp cheddar or a havarti or an almond swiss on a freshly slaughtered bacon buffalo burger sometime.

Is it getting close to lunch time?
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
Wheeeew!

I need a smoke after reading that my friend.

I like the wheat beers. They are a taste I acquired in Germany. My local favorite is Boulevard Wheat - Boulevard is a Kansas City Micro.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
You can take my Kitkat when you pry it out of my cold, dead fingers!

I don't know how he does it, but Dan always seems to nail those unique little "Canadianisms", or at least those that I am partial to. They have Kitkat "chunky" now, ya know.

What's so bad about Canadian pizza? Depends where you go I guess - the worst pizza I ever had was in Chicago of all places...

As for beer - well, I stay away from the big brands anyhow. I would say the best Canadian micro-brews would hold their own against anything from south of the border. We'll have to have a taste-off or something.
 

Cardinal

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10,079
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34
Do I hear a challenge?

I can bring along a selection of Wisconsin microbrews, cheeses and some dead buffalo to put on the grill.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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Michael Stumpf wrote:
Sam Adams? OK, but far from great. Try a New Glarus "Uff-da" Bock, a "Moosedrool" from Kalispell, MT, or Alaskan Amber. Now those are beers.
Not Sam Adams. Sam Adams Millennium. $200 a bottle. Considering what went into my tasting glass, I probably quaffed about $150 of it at the last Great American Beer Festival.

From the Sam Adams Web site ...

Millennium is an example of the brewers' art at its most remarkable: a rich though very drinkable amber essence with mouth-filling flavors of malt and oak, overtones of vanilla, butterscotch and pear, with a hint of cinnamon. Rare Noble hops give Samuel Adams Millennium a crisp, balanced finish.

Served at cellar temperature (about 60 degrees) in two-ounce servings, Millennium makes a wonderful aperitif or after-dinner drink.

As the world's strongest beer at about 20% alcohol by volume, it's been likened to a fine bourbon.




BTW, for Tranplanner ...

 
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Michael - I went to a wedding in New Glarus, the whole weekend was spent glutting ourselves on Spotted Cow Beer and Deep Fried Cheese Curds - please allow me a moment for some Homer like drooling. Yuuuuhhhm.

As for Wegmans, a trip back to Geneseo just isn't complete without a drunken 2 am trip to wegman's for a spree through their bulk food bin aisle. We're dying for them in Albany, let alone Florida.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
34
Thanks Dan, but damn - I think I'm going to have to go out to the corner store...shame though that this being Ontario I can't get any beer there.

Challenge accepted - I'll bring the back bacon and donuts, as well as some fine local beverages. My current picks: Amsterdam Nut Brown Ale, Wellington County Best Bitter, Steam Whistle Brewing Co. Pilsner.

Just as an aside - how many of you out there can get a beer at your City Hall? I can - but they rip you off big time. At least it's good beer...
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
That would make my life complete

Beer at work? Is this heaven you speak of or Germany? Can you keep a keg in the office and have a cold one with the developer? Can you play quarters to determine the merits of an application? Can you sleep it off at the office on the clock because it was a work related bender?

Is there a Miller Time, Canada? Don't tease me!
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,985
Points
29
I messed up whilst moderating

KMateja
Senior Planner
Posted the following:


As for Canada....
Hundreds and hundreds of underaged upstate New Yorkers love Canada for their 18 year old drinking age and superior nudie bars.


El Guapo's note: I was trying to move this thread and accidentially deleted it. So Sorry.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
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34
Sorry if I misled you El Guapo, sir - it's not like you can drink at your desk. There is a restaurant/cafeteria on the main floor of City Hall that serves wine and beer - at tourist trap prices though. Planners head down the street aways to drench their thirst.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
33
Our Public Works Department had Blatz in their vending machines until 1993. They were allowed to have it on breaks at the time... My how political correctness has impacted the workplace!
 

Cosmic

Cyburbian
Messages
33
Points
2
Better at hockey and doughnut diplomacy

With the Olympics over Canada can now categorically state that our national identity is intact. We do hockey good!!! In Canada the hockey game for the gold medal between the US and Canada was presented like a virgin defending her honour. "Can we hold them off!? Will our virtuous hockey purity honed on the frozen ponds in back yards across Canada stand up to the tainted, industrialized hockey assault from the States?"

I think also that we get "Smarties" chcolate bars and you can't get that in the States. They are like M and M's only with milk chocolate and not as rich.

Canada makes THE best doughnuts. Tim Horton's is the champion when it comes to that. After all, we are the country that believes that there isn't a problem that can't be solved by sitting everyone down with nice hot coffee and a plate of fresh doughnuts. Actually I've tried it at a couple of tough meetings ... it works!!! Everyone kind of mellows out and focuses on the yummies. If feathers start to get ruffled just take a break and put out more doughnuts. It settles things right down. I am not kidding. Try it.

Who need missles and spending huge amounts of money on the military when you have honey cruller, jelly filling, and maple glazed in your arsenal! Doughnut diplomacy!
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,556
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55
Tranplanner wrote:
Just as an aside - how many of you out there can get a beer at your City Hall? I can - but they rip you off big time. At least it's good beer...
No beer. Sigh. We get free coffee and Pepsi products, though.

The closest thing was my first job, where birthdays were celebrated during lunch over several pitchers, and the coffee cart that was at City Hall at my last job.
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
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10,079
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34
Cosmic - donuts are a staple at staff meetings here as well, though the chocolate frosted ones seem to go the quickest. If anyone is in Thermopolis, Wyoming, try the donut stand on the main drag there. Best donut I've ever had, bar none. There's also a hot spring and nice historic hotel.
 

nerudite

Cyburbian
Messages
6,544
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29
Sorry Cosmic...

I've been living in Canada for a few months now (thank you NAFTA!) and I must say that Tim Horton donuts are nothing to get excited about.

The one thing you can't get north of the border??? A good margarita!

But they do have dill pickle flavored potato chips here, and that's got to count for something. Yum!
 
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