You don’t need to feel envious that Metro Manila is not as cosmopolitan as other European Cities. Travel is supposed to broaden the mind, especially when you’re seeing the cities of Europe.
However, you sometimes end up feeling envious once you come home. You think: why can’t Metro Manila be cleaner and law-abiding, or as hip and cosmopolitan as these European cities? The thing is, Metro Manila can be as good as or even better than these cities. This isn’t just a matter of Filipino pride, but rather a perspective on seeing both the good and the bad sides of any city—including ours.
Here are seven observations I’ve come up with while I was traveling through different European cities.
The French of Paris love their pets. You would see them walking their dogs in the morning when the sunlight makes the whole city of Paris bright and fresh. That’s when you realize, though, that the French are not so keen after picking up after their dogs when they poop. And because their weather is quite cool during spring, the dog poop has a tendency to stay “fresh” longer during the day.
Following Traffic Rules
Because the Hop-On Hop-Off tourist buses are so big, they have a tendency to crowd out some of the smaller streets of Prague. In one case, the bus we were on crossed an intersection while it was green. But because the opposite side was full of cars, the bus was caught in the middle when the green light turned red—and it ended up effectively blocking the intersection.
Street Vendors & Con Artists
In Paris, you can’t escape the street vendors carrying the cheap, plastic Eiffel Tower key-chains for sale or laying out their fake handbags on the sidewalk to sell. What’s more, at the time we were there, there were kids going around with a dubious-looking petition and trying to get you to sign. However, we were warned that this was a scam.
You get a sense of how urbane and cosmopolitan the French are. However, you’ll also notice that they smoke a lot while you’re walking around in Paris. Why do you think their sidewalk cafes are so popular? Expect to be at the tail-end of a puffing Frenchman while wandering the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. (And no, I didn’t get to see anyone using e-cigarettes there.)
Speeding & Parking
La Barceloneta in Barcelona is a beautiful old neighborhood that’s slowly transforming into a tourist spot because of its location near the beach. However, the combination of small streets and even smaller sidewalks mean that a revving car or a big truck passing through could give you thoughts of life and death. On the other hand, I noticed a lot of the cars parked in the smaller streets of Paris have a number of parking dents and dings. I guess when your vehicle has been boxed in your slot, a little “push” on the nearby car is normal.
Stockholm, in Sweden and Copenhagen, in Denmark are two examples of modern Western cities today. Both have their popular Old Town sections where you can see their history built in stone. However, certain areas have buildings that would remind you of pictures of the City of Manila in the 1950s and 1960s with their open plazas and wide, sweeping facades. One almost expects to see your parents or grandparents passing by in their bellbottom pants and sideburns.
In Manila, we’re so used to our airport separating departing and arriving passengers. However, at the Scandinavian airports like Reykjavik, in Iceland we saw that the departing and arriving passengers are allowed to mingle—which can make things quite confusing when you’re trying to look for your boarding gate.
In conclusion, we’re all familiar with the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt.” However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t appreciate a beautiful city like ours, even with all its dirt, crime, and traffic.
It’s just a matter of perspective: broadening your mind and opening your eyes.
Any other First World cities remind you of Manila and how they’re comparable? Tell us in the comments!