Observations on the US - Repost

I wrote this post back on the 8th July 2010, about 6 weeks after we got back from our 5 week US holiday. My boss sent me to New York to attend the International Book Fair and suggested I take Dave with me and make a holiday of it, seeing as we would only have to pay for one air fare! It was an awesome trip and Dave and I can't wait to go back one day and see more of the country.

I was originally gonna write a new post for The Lounge link-up today but time and a sooky toddler has gotten the better of me and its just not happened. Which is a shame, as I'm sure you all would have loved to see some photos of my swollen mouth in Fiji! I'll just have to save that story for another day! It's appropriate though that I re-post this today as it was 2 years to the day on Tuesday that we left for the US. 

So, without further ado, here are some of the things Dave and I noticed while travelling around the States......

Let me preface this post with the following - these will mostly be mass generalisations, I realise this and I in no way intend to offend Americans in any way! I had a great time in your country and Loved it!

1. Hawaiians love their water features!
Just one of the many water features to be found around Honolulu

2. New York City hotels have terrible bathroom designs (well Hotel Chandler and Days Inn Broadway do anyway!). I mean, who puts the only shelf in the place over the toilet??? I'm sorry but I don't want the stuff I use to wash my face with sitting above the spray-zone of a flushing toilet! Not to mention the fact that Ms. Butterfingers would be seriously likely to lose half her stuff in there!. Apart from that they are nice but small!

3. They have a lot of drug (medicine) ads on tv over there. And I mean a LOT. And half of the 30sec commercial is a list of side-effects and reasons why you shouldn't take it! The number one reason being you might DIE! Oh yeah, I want want their having!

An example of some 'genius' American marketing. You should have seen the rest of the slogans about how 'Stupid is good' and 'Stupid is fun'. Yep, Stupid!

4. In restaurants, the entree is an appetiser, and the main is an entree which is just all kinds of mixed up.

5. There are signs around Central Park in NYC warning about squirrels and rabies. They're not as innocent as they look!

6. All the water in the toilet sits in the bowl, no cistern that fills up with water at the back. And most of them sound like plane toilets when you flush them.

7. In TV ads and news they pronounce Hyandai 'hun-day'. And it's annoying.

8. In TV ads and news they pronounce Nissan 'knee-san'. This is also irritating.

9. 'Kylie' is a weird name over there (which shouldn't really be surprising as it is an Aboriginal word...does anyone know what it means? Respect to the one with the correct answer!)

10. The sandwich maker at Buffalo airport thinks that a Bacon, Egg, Cheese and BBQ sauce 'sandwich' (toasted) is an odd combination. He failed to see that it was the greatest breakfast sandwich combination known to man!

11. They love to put mayonnaise on burgers. All burgers. Even at Maccas.

12. Maccas chips in the US taste like Maccas chips used to taste here. Man I miss that. Screw 'healthy' oil, I want my chips to taste the way they used to! Also, don't tell them that you want your order to 'take-away'. They will look at you as though you're speaking another language and blink really fast. It's 'to-go' people. You have been warned!

13. It is almost impossible to get a good coffee, not to mention something that even resembles a latte, in the US. I am sure there must be one or two places where they make good coffee, but I have no idea where those places are and believe me, we tried a LOT of places in our search, but of course we could not go everywhere. One coffee we got in the airport at Buffalo was so bad that after one sip we both threw them in the bin. They were supposed to be Vanilla Latte's. They tasted more like road tar mixed with some fake raspberry flavouring. They were from Dunkin' Donuts and so bad that we actually went and bought new coffees from the Maccas, that's how bad they were!

Dave with his Cappuccino in a Can! Found in the hotel lobby in Honolulu. I did NOT try this!

14. And in New York they drink iced coffee as if it's going out of style. It's like they've never had iced coffees before, and I can tell you, while they may look refreshing, they don't taste that good. Nothing like what we have over here.

15. Their Coca-Cola does NOT taste like ours. It's more like our Pepsi. Which I didn't even dare try over there. But their Sprite is good! I arrived in the US a Coke addict and became a Sprite addict in two days.

16. In Vegas, you can buy frozen cocktails by the YARD glass and wander down the strip with them. When it's 11pm and still 42degrees outside, this is heaven in a yardie! 

17. New York is the best city in the world! You may dispute that, but in my world, of the (limited) amount of cities I've seen, it's the best for me! As a Sydney-gal it pains me to say that, but it's true!

18. There are a lot of people in the US and it's very noisy. You don't actually realise how noisy until you get home, and if you live where I live it seems even quieter here! The Hawkesbury is certainly no bustling metropolis, never will be, but when you go to the main street on a Monday for a coffee the day after you get back from the US the difference just screams in your face. Windsor is like a ghost town compared to the US! Or anywhere come to think of it. Only Mogo is quieter on a Monday.

19. The meals you are served are huge! And they are definitely value for money because you get so much on a plate! They also always come with coleslaw. Even breakast. It's kinda weird, this obsession they have with serving coleslaw at every meal.

20. A lot of Americans struggle to tell the difference between Australian and British accents. The amount of times people thought we were British was actually quite funny. Some of them even thought we were Canadians! I didn't have the heart to correct one girl on the Book Fair shuttle bus, coz she launched into this story about England and wanting to go there and this that and the other, really loudly, that I just nodded and smiled, I couldn't embarrass her by saying "Hmm, yes, I'd love to go to England too as I'm actually from Australia". I can't blame her though, it's an easy enough mistake I spose as I only really said a few words to her!

21. US customs don't really like you hauling a few kilo heavy piece of Pyrite (a mineral often called Fool's Gold, google it) round the country (long story, didn't really think before we bought, but we like collecting cool-looking gems and minerals!) in your checked luggage and will search your bag before every flight you go on and bust your suitcase, not bothering to even do the luggage strap back up properly. Moral of the story? Don't let your husband (or wife *hangs head in shame*) convince you that you should buy that piece of Pyrite from the American Museum of Natural History because it's on sale and will look really good with the other ones at home. Especially if it's only the first leg of your trip and you still have 5 more flights left. Yes it does look cool on the shelf, so if you have to buy it, post it home! May cost a bit but it will save you some hassle (and a suitcase!). Or don't buy it. Just a suggestion.

If you're an Aussie (or non US living person), have you been to the US? Do you have any observations of your own? For those non-Aussie's any observations on Australia, whether you've been here or not are gladly welcomed!


Bill said…
6: I was fascinated by that too! When I first saw it, I told my dearest we might have to call maintenance because the water was 3/4 of the way up the bowl. Her response was, "Yes. And?"

13: Oh, can't agree with you there. I found some really nice places. And while it probably wouldn't impress the connoisseur, the chicory blend at Cafe du Monde really hit the spot on a chilly morning.

15: That's because they sweeten everything with corn syrup instead of cane sugar.
In fact, when they had the whole "new formula" debacle in the 80s, they brought back the original, but they had changed the sweetener from cane sugar to corn syrup, so I think the new formula was just a distraction to stop people noticing they changed the original formula too.

20: I played a game with people getting them to guess mine. I could understand people guessing Irish and English, but the guy who first guessed Kansas, and then New Jersey had me totally bewildered.

21: Did you notice airport security talking to you like an Australian? On my way over, the guard at San Francisco said, "Cheers mate!" when he handed my passport back, and when I was heading home, another looked at my passport and said, "Ah, G'day!"
Jen Price said…
I realize these are just generalizations but I do have to interject. Mayo on burgers? No way! That must be a regional thing. Us, Texans, we prefer mustard!

So sorry you couldn't find good coffee. There's lots of great places in NYC. Bummer!

And that's hilarious about the girl talking to you like you were from England. I can understand how people could confuse it, but we have a lot of Aussie and English friends and there's definite distinctions.

Sounds like you had a great trip. I love traveling around and seeing how the world is so different from the culture and country that is familiar to us. It makes the world so diverse!

Maybe next time you should go to Africa!
km said…
Disagreeing too on the coffee but totally agreeing with you on the accents. I'm Irish and they'd guess Australian - must be because of the bad TV/movie accents. Did you catch any Outback Steakhouse ads. Why they can't find Irish people to do Irish accents and ditto Aussie accents I don't know.
The medical ads are something aren't they? Take this toe fungus tablet; Side effects include nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea, limb rot, hairloss, loss of teeth, loss of libido, memory loss, backwards brain and spontaneous combustion.
As to the size of the bathrooms that's because of realestate prices in New York. The cheapest rent I ever had commercially (15 years ago) was 48 bucks a square foot. My ass is a square foot !
km said…
Disagreeing too on the coffee but totally agreeing with you on the accents. I'm Irish and they'd guess Australian - must be because of the bad TV/movie accents. Did you catch any Outback Steakhouse ads. Why they can't find Irish people to do Irish accents and ditto Aussie accents I don't know.
The medical ads are something aren't they? Take this toe fungus tablet; Side effects include nausea, dry mouth, diarrhea, limb rot, hairloss, loss of teeth, loss of libido, memory loss, backwards brain and spontaneous combustion.
As to the size of the bathrooms that's because of realestate prices in New York. The cheapest rent I ever had commercially (15 years ago) was 48 bucks a square foot. My ass is a square foot !
Amy xxoo said…
I lived in the US for a year, working as a nanny ( in New Jersey, so i loved tripping into NYC on the weekends! ) and i have to agree with most of that. Quite afew people thought i was either British or Canadian, but i had one guy ask me if i was from Boston! I know that they have an odd accent, but thats still American....
The big one that i observed that you forgot ? Everything comes with a pickle. You order a sandwich? It comes with a huge pickle on the side of the plate. You order a burger ? A huge pickle. Steak and salad? A huge pickle!
Bill said…
I think guessing Boston actually makes a bit of sense, since they tend to drop their Rs as we do ("cah" not "carr")

KM, I had some fun with the waiter at the Outback in Little Rock.
"Fries? I don't understand. What are these fry things? Oh chips? Why didn't you say so?"
But he was a very good sport and we tipped him well.
Amy xxoo said…
@ Bill - yep, i think that is why this guy thought i was from Boston. I dont remember the whole conversation but it was the way i said scarf that threw him... " sc-ah-f " not " sca-r-f" ....
Unknown said…
a quick look through the comments and I see no one could tell you what Kylie meant. (or maybe I only skimmed).
Anyway - according to my sources it actually means Boomerang.
I was hoping for something prettier but no - boomerang it is.
Mia said…
Based on my voice Americans think I'm British, Brits think I'm Australian, Australians think I'm Canadian [at least one did], Canadians think I'm American.
@ Bill - Re: 15. I never knew that about coke! Explains a lot! I was not happy as I am a bit of coke fiend (something that has been easy to stay off surprisingly after a forced time out!) but on the plane home, when I checked the can and found it to be Aussie coke I had to have one!
Re: 21, Yes, how strange is that. They were either totally robotic or made lame aussie jokes. Airport security are a strange breed!

@Jen - I think it must be a regional thing too, I didn't notice it so much in New York. I told Dave we will have to go back just to find the good coffee! I think we were so focused on seeing all the 'things' we wanted to see that coffee almost took a back seat after a while, which was probably a good thing! And I would soooo love to go to Africa! Just have to convince Dave!

@KM - I totally agree on those Outback ads, they are terrible! Didn't go to one while we were there, should have though! And Holy Crap! That's a lot of money for a little space!

@Amy - Yes, you are so right about the pickles! how weird is it! I almost died the first time I saw one in it's air-tight bag on a vendors stall! I had to double-take to check what it was! Yuck!

@Toushka - Yes, my name is in fact an aboriginal word for boomerang. Being such an 'aussie' name I can understand why it wouldn't be common in the US. Good job!

@Mia - You must have a very 'worldly' accent! :)
Kylie Purtell said…
Great post! It really is all the littlest things that make us appreciate 'cultural difference'. LOL at the Macca's chips :)
Kylie Purtell said…
Love Love New York,,I would agree with all of the above observations Kylie...our hotel cost more for 4 days than the rest of our accomodation combined. But it was worth it-so much to see!! Can't wait to save up to go back...
Kylie Purtell said…
I went to the US a few times, but NY only for a couple of days when I was 11. I would love to go back. I love San Francisco. Yes, meal sizes are HUGE, and our concept of coffee doesn't exist there. How interesting about the name "Kylie"! You learn something new every FYBF xx
Kylie Purtell said…
Oh yeah, there was no way I was trying that stuff. Dave thought it wasn't too bad but then he's a strange man!

You'll love Hawaii, its fabulous and the weather is just glorious!
Kylie Purtell said…
Bahahaha! Now that would be funny!
Kylie Purtell said…
LOL. Yep ... great reflections. I go to the USA a lot and you are spot on. I had forgotten half of these ... has become second nature to me ... I will never forget the first time I went to the toilet in a US airport bathroom 20+ years ago on my first trip. I kept changing stalls because I thought all the toilets were blocked and overflowing!!! LOL
Great memories ..
Kylie Purtell said…
I LOVE the States and my fave cities would have to be NYC and Boston. People are totes in yer face but that's just the East Coast go-get-out-there attitude. I relish it!!!
Kylie Purtell said…
I lived in the US for 11 years! And it's so funny, because when I came back here from living over there for so long, everything you said, I said the opposite! We said words funny, our coffee was terrible...anyway, FF 2 years and we went back to the US to visit and I was hanging for a dunkin donuts iced coffee - OMG it was FOWL!!!! It's funny the things you are used to I guess. I used to think there wasn't much cultural difference between there and here, but really, the differences are many! I'm guessing another trip will be on the cards for us in the next 12 months if we can afford it. It's $$$ to fly 3 people from Brisbane to Detroit! xo
Kylie Purtell said…
They put chicken in your coffee?
Kylie Purtell said…
Hey gorgeous, I lived in New York for 3 years (before, during and after Sept 11) and I had a great laugh at what you wrote! I agree with some for sure! Space is always at a premium in NYC hence the shelf above sink - old school also me thinks! When I was there they didn't know what the word "reckon" meant - well maybe it was my Kiwi accent :)

Regardless I'm so glad you went there, isn't it an amazing city. When you live there you find great coffee, bagels and stuff! Em xx
Kylie Purtell said…
I love New York. I was born in Manhattan so it holds a soft spot in my heart. I agree regarding the coffee. The UK is crap for coffee too. I was surprised with the pharmie ads too. Out of control! Every ad I saw on telly there seemed to be about a medication or body augmentation of some sort. Weird. And the toilets! Don't get me started on the toilets. Oh, actually you have now! The bowl is so fucking full of water! I was so worried that I was going to dip my hand in it during the wiping process. So fucking disgusting! The Euros have some disgusting dunnies with little shelves in them to catch the poo but the high water levels in US toilets just totally freaked me out. Ew.
Kylie Purtell said…
I've never been outside of Australia, but I went there with you reading this post :) I'm pretty sure our Big Macs come with Mayo - you should meet my 'Dutch' fiance, they have mayo with everything, especially fish n chips.
Kylie Purtell said…
Haha! Oh dear that is funny about the pyrite I can just imagine the customs people freaking out like crazy. I am so freakung jealous that you have a job that gets u sent to the states!!! Our holiday to the US is 2008 was my best ever and you are right, New York is the most wonderful city ever. I want to move there x

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