Interests and differences in the US

Dining

In shops it is very badly available chicken meat, real meat, different ham, etc. The most popular is turkey meat.

In general, everything in the US is bigger than in the Czech Republic. Even regular packing of water, meat or other foods is larger. Drinks are based on 1 gallon, which is about 3.8 liters.

Common bread known from the Czech Republic (rolls, bread) is not practically available. Popular are buns or toasts.

Fast food is very widespread in the US. You meet them on every corner and there are brands that are not available in the Czech Republic at all. For example, McDonald’s is a very common fast food in the US, and is much higher in the Czech Republic. Conversely, Subway is much better (and sometimes cheaper) than its Czech version.

Traveling

What is close and far is a relative term, because distances are much larger in the US than in the Czech Republic or in Europe in general. So what is far for us is close for them. Chicago, for example, was about an hour of driving (about 50 miles = 80 kilometers), which is a bit for them, though I would say it is far away for us. But they travel daily to work to Chicago.

And the second point is that distances are not expressed in miles (or kilometers), but in terms of time. So if you ask someone how far it is to Chicago, they will not tell you 50 miles, but they will say an hour. This is partly practical, but partly also misleading.

For journeys to national parks and other nature places, it is advisable to buy Annual Pass. This $80 card entitles you to enter all parks and reservations in the US (more than 2,000 locations) for all persons in the vehicle + the entrance of the vehicle. Entrance to most of the parks costs $20 to $30, so if you visit at least three parks, it is definitely worth it.

For an American trip, get an Annual Pass that allows you to enter all parks and reservations in the USA.

Significant tourist destinations are appropriate (and sometimes necessary) to book a long way in advance. For example, a tour of the former Alcatraz jail was sold out for a month and a half in the summer.

Transport

Extremely high concentrations of large trucks (off-road vehicles), off-road trucks with a large body behind the huge engines are driving on the roads. And the trucks there are considerably larger than we are used to from Europe, and they usually run several trailers in a row, usually four big tanks, etc.

There are no roundabouts in the United States. Instead, they have intersections called “All-way stops”, which are the crossroads where all STOP signs are in all directions, and cars must stop in all directions. Then cross the intersection in the order in which to the intersection arrived with the alternating directions. I was originally afraid of this, but in the end it turned out to be cool 🙂

Traffic lights are located just behind the intersection. This is very practical because when a person is at the first position, the traffic light is beautifully in front of him and he does not have to wander around his neck when watching the traffic light.

In the US, car insurance does not bind to a particular car, as is common in the Czech Republic, but insurance is linked to people. If the person pays insurance, he can drive any car and is insured in the event of an accident. For foreigners it is a problem because they do not have any insurance for themselves, so they have to pay extra insurance when renting a car.

If you plan to rent a car, you need to count that it’s cheapest if you are at least 25 years old. If you are 21 to 24, you will pay an extra fee of $10 to $30 a day due to a low age. If you are between 18 and 21 years of age, car rental is not possible at all or the surcharge is even higher, in addition, you can borrow a car only from the lowest category (Chevrolet Spark, etc.).

Motorway tolls are usually paid in “trash bins”, where they only accept coins and the barrier opens. There is usually no service and there are no cash-back machines. It is therefore necessary to have sufficient small coins for toll payment.

Tolls on motorways, bridges and tunnels often accept coins by inserting coins to a bin. Therefore, it is necessary to have enough small coins.

On roads it is generally possible to overtake both sides, from left and right as well. On the one hand, it’s a bit confusing, on the other hand you do not have to squirm between the stripes. Usually, the motorways have more than two lanes in one direction, before San Francisco, highway have 8 lanes in each direction.

Police in different areas tolerate different speeding. For example, in Illinois, they tolerate speeds exceeding 10 to 15 MPH.

The police can generally stop the vehicle, but if there is no reasonable suspicion of violating a law, it can only check the driver’s license, the vehicle registration document and the vehicle insurance document. When checking these documents you do not have to get out of hand, you do not even have to open a window or get off the car and you do not have to communicate with the cop.

The police can only take a vehicle check or a breath test if they have reasonable suspicion that something is wrong. Nevertheless, I would highly recommend to communicate with the police officer, to follow his instructions and act with respect. Avoid unexpected movements, do not step out of the vehicle (the policeman can see that as a threat) if you have been told to do so and hold both hands on the steering wheel. Given the legal ability to hold a weapon, unexpected movements could be taken as a search for a weapon. The same rules apply to all passengers in the vehicle.

When checking at night, it is advisable to switch on the indoor lighting so that the policeman has a better overview. If you are prompted to step out of the vehicle, do so immediately, but avoid sudden and unexpected movements again. After leaving the vehicle, keep at least 1.5 meters away from the policeman so that he does not feel like you want to endanger him.

Other

At least around Chicago law is that the grass must be permanently cut. Which looks very good, because it is “bouncing” all over the football lawn. Whether it’s private gardens and backyards, as well as public spaces, including areas around roads and highways, there is a beautiful little cranberry from the golf course.

People are very friendly here. Even if you walk along the sidewalk in the village, strangers say “hi” to you. When we were standing in a queue at Subway, the lord before us just started talking to us, asking where are we from, how do we like it here, etc. Even the shopkeepers are very kind and friendly. You practically do not meet any “sour face”, everyone smiles, greets you, asks if you need something, etc.

In the neighborhood of Chicago, but in general elsewhere in the US, they do not have fences at home. It looks very nice because you go down the streets and see the lawns and the life of the people at home and you do not just look at the big fences.

At least in the neighborhood of Chicago there is very little stealing. People go shopping for shopping, put their shopping in open cargo spaces and quietly goes away. Just as we were shopping, we stopped at the parking lot and did not lock the car even though there were many things on the seats. Or the house, when we left for a shorter time, did not need to lock, even if he had no fence, and anyone could just walk in.

Electric and telephone lines are mainly in villages largely towed by air through pillars, so there is often a mad crackle of cables on the pillars, and there are some cables all over you.

The city center is called “Downtown”.

In the vicinity of Chicago, there is virtually a long-lasting high humidity due to Lake Michigan. Essentially, there is air as in the Czech Republic just before a storm.

On calling from the US, it is worth buying Skype credit and calling to mobile phones and fixed lines in the Czech Republic via Skype. Minute of a call comes at 2.1 cents per minute + 3.6 cents connection fee for fixed lines and from 10.8 cents + 6.6 cents connection fee for mobile phones. SMS stands at 8.9 cents per message.

For any rent, it is necessary to have a credit card, not a debit card, which is the most widespread in the Czech Republic. For example, you can not rent a car on a debit card.

For car rentals, it is necessary to have a credit card, not a debit card.

In the US, as in most other countries, they use a different type of electrical sockets. In addition to the socket, there are also other mains voltages in the US. In Europe, the standard is 230 V, the US is in the 110 V. It is therefore necessary to verify that all connected devices imported from Europe can operate at a voltage of 110 V.

The voltage in the US sockets is 110 V, 230 V is the European standard.

In the US, it is better to pay by your credit/debit card instead of cash. Exchange rates are much better for card payments than for cash exchanges.

The toilets in the US are not flushing, as it is known in the Czech Republic, but it is “cushioning”. So they work in the opposite way – first, the content is emptied and then clean water is filled.

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