The reason everyone says everything is better in Europe is because everything is better in Europe. You feel freer over there because things are freer.
You have more fun in places like Spain and Italy and France because you’re able to.
Think about it – think about how much more you can do in Europe that you can’t do in Australia.
In Europe, you can ride a bike without a helmet, wander freely onto public transport, and drink in the streets without worrying about being fined. Where Australia is a country of laws, Europe is a place of trust.
People are trusted to do the right thing. They’re trusted to ride a bike and not fall off, trusted to buy a ticket before boarding a train, and trusted to drink in public without becoming a drunken disruption.
In Europe, people are treated like adults who can make their own decision and are trusted to make the right decision.
At home, we’re nannied. Babied. Subject to laws which control every part of our lives.
I understand some laws exist for a very important reason – safety. Things like no jaywalking are fair enough. If you’re crossing the road where you shouldn’t be, especially while on your phone or during busy traffic, there’s a high risk there. The law exists to keep us safe.
However, the smaller, simpler things – the things that impact our lifestyle and value of life – are the things that should not be policed. We can’t even drink coffee in our own car for goodness sake!
These laws exist in Australia because some – not all- of us are idiots who need babysitting. The sub-species within the Australian population that can’t be trusted to act responsibly so need to be kept in check.
Of course, no place in the world, Europe included, is totally idiot-free. But the thing about Europe is that self-awareness is the norm. Europeans have been raised into a culture where the only rule is “don’t be reckless” and successfully manage to live by this.
Bikes (and uh, other greener things) are everywhere in Amsterdam but helmets are not.
Walk through Paris during a festival or celebration like Bastille Day and you’ll see people walking through the streets with a bottle of wine in hand or serving champagne from street carts.
Australia, on the other hand? Not so much. Lockout laws are in place to stop violence on the streets which, on paper, is a good move. Violence is bad and definitely something no one wants. However, policing violence and controlling nightlife should be mutually exclusive. In other words, people should be punished for being violent idiots but not stopped from having a good night.
No one can stand around in a town square in Sydney or Melbourne or wherever and just sip on a cold one. Compare this to places like Rome where people gather in piazzas from all hours to share a few drinks, eat snacks and share stories.
San Sebastian in Spain takes this one step further: their entire night life is built on a code of trust. Bartenders will willingly serve customers food and drinks all night without worrying about the time and without asking for payment because people are trusted to cover the cost of the total bill when they eventually decide to leave.
In Rome and in San Sebastian there is no violence and there are no idiots.
Even though this is how things should be, it’s definitely not how things in the land of Aus.
It’s not just the idiots that ruin the fun – it’s the complainers. People in Australia complain about everything. Street performers are a nuisance, street art is vandalism. Things like the rainbow pedestrian crossing on Oxford Street in Sydney and political mural’s painted by Scott Marsh in Sydney’s most popular suburbs.
These are the things that you see everywhere in Europe and that add culture and character to their way of life. They’re the small things you enjoy as you walk down the street; dancing alongside the jazz band performing on a Parisian street corner is what makes your day.
Instead, in Australia, the complaints pour in, and creativity and fun and relaxed living are stifled. Our extensive laws and their overregulation are stopping Australia from developing its own sense of personality and culture.
Things are bland – we have the idiots and complainers to thank for that.