First of all, I am alive and well. I have been away on vacation recently in the USA. I had naively hoped to return home to better economic news, but it turns out that the opposite is true. The price of oil has continued to climb, more American Banks have become insolvent and the repercussions are being felt worldwide.
Most people have found few things to be positive about, but I can think of one thing. The weak US dollar made my vacation far more affordable. I can’t say that I lived or travelled like a king, but I certainly ate like one. Even in the most touristy areas, such as Niagara Falls, I was able to get a satisfying meal for $10. In contrast, last weekend in Sydney, I paid that same amount for a mere tomato bruschetta in a cafe, located on Broadway.
Two things however did annoy me very much about the USA. These are the practices of quoting prices ex-tax and the need to pay an additional tip for table service at restaurants. Tax was usually around 10% and tips averaged to 15%, so the menu price would be inflated by 25% in most cases.
Here in Australia, these practices do not exist. You pay the advertised price and that is that.
I expressed my feelings of frustration to other travellers I ran into, who would often answer “When in Rome, do as the Romans”. I did, but I really didn’t like it. Here are my main reasons: