Nothing is Free in Europe – Hannah Beck

By July 13, 2008Uncategorized

It all started as we were driving into Italy and were warned that a humble fee would probably be expected upon using the bathroom (Toilets, WC, Loo, etc.). It was said that there were people whose job it was to keep these facilities in a fair state and that paying to relieve yourself was a tradition that was started long ago and was passed on through time; so we accepted it and made sure that we had change in our pocket when nature called. Little did we know though, that this was only the beginning of a fee filled frenzy. Apparently this tradition started in Italy but has somehow been widely accepted by the other countries. Questionable.

Another beef I have is with paying to get into churches. Since when does God charge us to worship Him? As if he doesn’t have a hard enough time getting people to pay attention to him in the first place, we are now discouraging congregational worship by putting a cost on entering His temple. Of course, that is disregarding the fact that most people these days don’t enter these Cathedrals and Churches to worship God, but rather to take pictures and attempt a closer look into history. So, I guess I can’t say I blame them; but still, not free.

Next we have the internet. Oh boy the internet. Thankfully we’re at the ‘winvin’ right now (also known as the Winchester Vineyard) and we’ve been so lucky as to get free unlimited internet, a true luxury. I don’t have to put up with my increasing blood levels and heart beat as I watch my remaining internet time tick down before me, as if it’s counting down a time bomb. I’ve almost dropped as much money on the internet as I have on fresh pints of ‘real ale’ here in England.. and that’s saying something. I choose not to really count up how much I have actually spent on the internet so far as it might make me ill and make me realize how much I’m a child of the 21st century… but to paint a broad picture, there were times when an hour of internet cost more than the pay that I would receive for an hour of working at the Quik Pik (disclaimer: that was in grade 10). Needless to say I couldn’t bring myself to do that, so I would only use a half an hour.

And then there’s the ‘sit in’ cost at restaurants: the fee placed on top of the regular price of an item that is implemented if you want to eat inside the restaurant. Why can’t I just sit and enjoy a coffee, that I already feel guilty about having because it’s my second or third that day, without dropping an extra 20 euro cents on it… ok sure, 20 cents really isn’t that much, but it sure adds up after a while. Well anyway, I decided to show them by buying that coffee to go and taking it outside and sitting on their sidewalk… sticking it to the man.

Obviously we would also have to pay to camp, no complaint there, but I have to start questioning what we’re paying for when we use the outlet to plug in the toaster in the morning and blow a fuse. One toaster! The least we can ask for when camping is a bit of electricity to make coffee and toast our bread; but I guess we would have had to upgrade to the supreme package to be able to plug in more than one thing at a time.

The last thing, and also the thing that inspired me to write this rant in the first place, is paying for hot water. I’ve been told that we actually got lucky on this trip in not having to pay for it as much as in the past; point taken, but I think there’s still room to rant. After taking a cold shower and coming to the point where I thought my brain might actually freeze, I decided to splurge and buy a shower token. Content with my decision and ready to relax in the shower, I popped my coin in the machine and started shampooing my hair. I had just about got the soap out when Bam! it was cold again. I paid a euro to get some hot water and it lasted all of 5 minutes, therefore taking away my ability to enjoy the shower and making me cold in the end anyways. Shouldn’t this be included in the camping price? They could at least try to pretend it is like the electricity..

Well that’s enough for now. I must say, as much as they charge extra for stuff in Europe, I’m actually quite ok with it because frankly, that’s what you do in Europe: spend money.