Europe is a very diverse continent. Because of that, in this article, I will cover how to properly walk the streets, alleyways, hilltops, and promenades of some of Europe’s major cities. I will generalize greatly in this piece, but it is 100% correct in my opinion. Most of this article is me venting my frustrations at Europeans, tourists and their ways of walking in Europe. If you are European and do not like getting scolded, then this isn’t the article for you.
I know, I know…I am American. I know we do drone strikes, have gun issues, and really hate minorities (I am a minority). I know we are fat, obnoxious and stupid. That being said, I am a New Yorker first. Because I am a New Yorker, I am certain that “we – New Yorkers – know how to walk”. New Yorkers enjoy the day, but we do so with purpose. Our goal is to get to our destination and to do it effectively. That is the key…to get to where you need to regardless of whether sunshine or snow is involved.
Here is my analysis of walking in Europe.
EUROPEANS ARE SOME OF THE WORST WALKERS IN THE WORLD!
Move to the friggin’ right (your right). Seriously, if I move to your left; you move right. Somehow, in most European countries, people still walk into you. Europeans like to talk on their mobiles with seemingly no consideration of the person in front of them. They think the whole sidewalk is their sidewalk…and they walk SLOOOOWLY. All I ask is can you please move to the friggin’ right.
New Yorkers walk. We take subways, sometimes we take cabs, but for the most part, we travel on our two feet. In Europe, you walk in most small towns, but usually, drive from town to town. That brings me to:
Driving in Europe
Hear me out. Getting from one place to another is not NASCAR, is not Formula 1, and is certainly not the Fast and the Furious. If you drive like you’re in one of these races, you drive terribly and too fast. Drivers in most European countries will literally speed up when they see you walking down the street. It seems as if they want to hit you. Why? Because there are asshats who don’t realize they could really hurt people.
Mr Driver, slow the heck down. There are elderly and people, children, and tourists walking down the street. Take a puff of your cigarrette and relax. You will get to your destination a few minutes slower but have 1 extra death off your karma.
But what about the jaywalkers, you ask. They shouldn’t be crossing on red. Yes, people shouldn’t jaywalk; I agree. But European streets feel like a speedway because it is quite expensive to get a license. This means that it is mostly rich people who can afford licenses. It’s almost €2,000 to get a license in Europe and the tests are ridiculous. 5-hour endurance test. Crazy sauce.
Now, let me break it down by country.
Walking in Italy
In Italy, people walk slow. Slooooow. Sloooooooooow. In Rome, you might get lucky to walk alongside people whose pace is about 1 km an hour. The biggest issue is that people will be talking on their cellphones. Tourists will be looking at all the sites. Women will be sun-glassed and won’t even notice you exist. They will have zero regard for you and you’ll end up walking on on the actual streets.
The Chinese and Indian tourists will not even know you exist. They will be filming the city for their “1-day” in Italy video and walk all over you. It will be a horde of people that can be overwhelming. Lots and lots of tourists will be filming and photographing everything. My advice to you…drop the shoulder and just plow through them, or if you’re more polite, go around them in the street…
Don’t get me started with the streets.
Funk you cobblestone old-timesy streets. You want to kill me and every older person on earth. Sure, your streets look good on Instagram, but they feel terrible after a day of walking. They also get super slippery when wet and break iPhones (had this happen in Venice). My hips and back feel terrible after a simple walk to the market. These amazing Instagram vistas from the past should be put in the past. Give me a nice paved road. Nothing historic or “it’s our patrimony” give me something my hips won’t hate so that if I fall, I won’t be in a walker in my future years.
Walking on Hilltops
Don’t do it at night in a hill town if you don’t want to end the same way Robert Baratheon did. Yup. This happened to me. Cinghiale hangout in the hills of Cinque Terre, Tuscany, the Black Forest, and parts of Spain. They will mess you up. They will run into you smashing your leg. Kick you to throw you off balance or just eat you.
That being said, they are quite tasty.
Back to Walking in the Touristy Cities of Italy
Don’t, you will literally be attacked by people walking into you. Terrible drivers will go into the sidewalk and almost hito you. Did I mention you will be accosted by tour groups?
Walking in France
People walk slowly, except for those in Paris. Paris is a gem of a city. Parisians know how to walk. They move to their right, move quickly, and are focused on where they want to go. Love Paris. Unfortunately, they smoke. So if you are behind a Parisian, they will probably be inhaling a Chesterfield and the backdraft will hit you in the face. It will get your clothes disgustingly smokey. Expect to be confronted with an air of “I am French, you are in the wrong and you can’t tell us what to do” when you look at them. It’s terrible.
So, outside Paris, you get the rest of France which are slow, leisurely walkers. Yeah, you’re lazy and slow. You know who I am talking about. You barely know how to walk. You walk like you have no place to go. You walk like life is a farce and you are walking just to be ironic. You walk like each step is taxed at the 47% tax rate. You walk like…..okay you get the point. Walk faster and to the right please…unless you’re in a sleepy quiet French town like Beaune where nothing happens; there, you’re allowed to walk as slow as you want.
Walking in Germany
You guys are serious. I like that. Keep it up.
Walking in the Back Alleys of Europe
No issues so far. In cities like Marseilles or Genoa, you will be propositioned for some “extracurricular” activities. Just shake your head to the left/right and keep walking. Zero harm will come of it and you will have an interesting story to tell your friends back at home.
Walking in Croatia
Did someone pick my wallet? Did that car just jump into the medium. Who is this person watching me. Croats are constantly conscious of their surroundings and walk fast as heck to get out of the sun and the watching women on the balconies. It’s one of the only countries where I have seen old ladies with walkers walking faster then tourists. I clap for you my Croatian friends.
Walking in the UK
London is like NYC except they walk slow-ish. Not slow. They just have a peculiar cadence. It’s a lazy walk with no purpose. They want to get somewhere, but they do not know exactly where they want to go..maybe they do and they just don’t want to go. When you visit London, I recommend you don’t walk at night, everyone is way too sozzled. How much is the alcohol limit in London? Too much, that’s my opinion. I want to walk behind you, but not if you’re walking sideways in zigzags, singing songs, chanting for your favorite team, and dropping stuff as you walk.
Walking in Spain
Look at the part about the French countryside. The Spanish are about 1 km slower. Barcelona and Madrid are terrible walking cities. I know you can blame the heat, or say you are “enjoying life”; but honestly…you’re just being slow. Join the modern world, speed up and walk to the right.
….while we are on the subject of Spain. Stop being so morose about the world. You had a dictator, you had a shitty economy, your unions control way too much, but lighten up. We like you. I would tell the French the same, but they would just spit at me and blow smoke in my face.
Walking in Portugal
I leave the crown jewel of my European experience (12 years) to Portugal. You are the best walkers in Europe. You are focused, concise, and walk with a purpose. People walk at a cadence which is pleasantly easy to keep in time with. It’s like dancing.
Who am I kidding? Portugal is worst than Italy, France, or Spain. Walk to the friggin right! Walk at a good pace. You actually have to get somewhere. Move out of the way when people are behind you. Pick up after your dog. GRRRRR…. Portugal is the worst.
I don’t want to kick the butt of my new home but people are very inconsiderate. They walk into you. Older people have no clue you are there when they walk (they get a pass – cause they’re old). If you get near a tour group, they will walk all over you (Chinese tour groups the worst).
If someone has a child, the kid will probably bump into you, grab you, run around you, or worst run into traffic without the parents even caring or noticing. If you say something you will get chastised as “Not being Portuguese” or not knowing the “Portuguese way”.
Right now I am holed up in the apartment, dreading the Portuguese walk. Dreading getting “shouldered” or walking at 1 km per hour down a running path. I dread seeing the old lady being pushed into the street by some tween on her Samsung Note. It will happen and I will be prepared. This is why I fear the experience of walking in Europe.
…sorry had to rant…but seriously. Walk to the right.