It's been about three days now since I've been back in Bratislava, Slovakia (pictured here is a view of the city's Old Town and Bratislava Castle). A few cultural observations: There is very little garbage on the streets. Some 430,000 people live and work here, but the most trash I've seen are cigarette butts — some days it feels like every third person smokes — and even so, I've seen how an effort is made to toss the butts into the sewer instead of onto the street. I brought this up and one of the residents told me was "appalled" by the garbage strewn across the streets and sidewalks when he first visited New York.
I've also seen no stray dogs. And apart from a few wandering drunks, no homeless population, really.
Something I didn't catch the first time: no billboard overload. There are posters and bus stop kiosks and the like, of course, but the explosion of advertising that we see in every direction in the States is not present here. We've become immune to the cacophony.
Given the well-documented American sense of superiority, it takes just a distressingly short time in another country to see that we have shockingly low standards.
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