You think about a lot of stuff when you are in someplace new... Well I do anyway.
After seeing the splendor of a couple of European noble palaces, you really do get the sense of why the Americans wanted to throw off the yoke of royalty, in favor of their republic. The money that was spent, just in those houses comes from somewhere, and that somewhere was from the people.
Why are French speaking people rude to anyone who doesn't speak French? The German speaking and Dutch speaking people were cool, why are the French dicks? I don't get it. Several times we were treated to this idiocy. We did nothing to incur it, we were nice, even asking if they spoke English in French. No dice. They no likey. Why?
After visiting countries that bordered France, it became very evident that the aggressors in Europe, were not the Germans. The aggressive people in Europe are the French. They marched across Germany, they marched across Belgium, they took the Netherlands, even installing their own puppet king. It is interesting how time change. The Germans see their recent invasions of France as payback for all the times France invaded them back in the day. Many of the buildings in Belgium have had be rebuilt after French bombardments. The Dutch are still touchy about Napoleon. Everybody looks at France as a sleeping tiger, but since America has only once before looked at France as an enemy (John Adams nearly went to war with them) we see them as a benign, effeminate group.
The Anne Frank house really made me take a look at religious intolerance taken to an extreme. The whole "Ground Zero Mosque" has really brought this to light. If the power of government is used to prevent the building of the Mosque what is next? Do we prevent Muslims from owning certain types of business? They are kind of hard to pick out of a crowd, so how about we have them sew a crescent to all of their clothing? How about we round all of them up to "keep an eye" on them? Where does it end? When 6 million of them are dead?
Seeing drug use in the open in Amsterdam gave me pause... I still am in favor of the legalization of all drugs, but watching people puff on a bong in coffee shops... Wow. I don't like that very much. People are social beings, so, as sure as the sun rises, the day after drugs are legalized somebody is going to open a bar where people can get high together. I don't like it. But then again, I don't like it when drunk morons are in the bar... Unless I am the drunk moron... Then it is OK.
In Germany, it is the rule that if you have a town, you have a brewery. Every region, every town, every village has their own place that makes the beer that the people like. Sure, there are large breweries too, but the people mainly drink the local brew. It saddens me to know that the USA was very similar. Then Prohibition came along and destroyed that tradition. Entire generations of brewers, denied their craft. Why? One group of people imposed their thought of how people should live on other people by force of law. The brewing industry did not recover for nearly 80 years. Even now, the local brewery is an exotic strange thing. In Germany it is profoundly disturbing to them when the town does not have a brewery.