Tuesday, November 19, 2019

iPhones, Walls and Dollars

I recently returned from being out of the country for a month. I visited Rome and then boarded a cruise ship that went to various ports in the Mediterranean before doing a transatlantic crossing ending in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.

A few random observations.

The iPhone and/or smartphones are ubiquitous wherever you go. Everyone has them. Shopkeepers in the Greek Isles, deck hands on cruise ships, concierges in hotels. Of course, all of it resulting from American technology with Apple or the Google Android operating system. Europe has largely been left out of the value chain on this innovation. The people of Europe are using them but very little of the profits are inuring to companies there compared to Asia and the United States.

Despite all the controversy about building a wall on the southern border of the United States, when you are touring those old Mediterranean coastal cities they almost all were built with high walls around them. They placed a high price on keeping their populations safe and secure from invaders who would do them harm.

The same is true of the Vatican which we toured while in Rome.

Vatican Wall

It makes you wonder why walls are so controversial now. It does not appear that was the case in the past and it took a lot more to put up those structures then than it does now.

Tourism dollars have become absolutely critical for countries we visited like Italy, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. It is a huge part of the economy and the inflow of dollars (US or Canadian) is particularly important. About 2/3 of the passengers on our ship were American or Canadian. You can be assured that if the North American economy sneezes that there will be a lot of people in these European countries who catch a severe cold.

We had a young college-educated tour guide in Montenegro who, although doing well in the tourism industry, told us that he was concerned about the heavy reliance his country now has on tourists. The manufacturing jobs that were once there in the communist days of Yugoslavia were long gone and he wasn't sure that was all good for his country. Many young people in these countries are looking for careers in tourism of some type.

A few images I captured on the trip with my iPhone.

The Vatican Museum

Sveti Stefan, Budva, Montenegro
Rooms could be had on this private island resort enclave for $10/night for Communist Party officials in Tito's Yugoslavia
Today a room costs as much as $1,000/night

Oia, Santorini, Greece

Sunrise in the middle of the Mediterranean

Positano, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Malaga, Spain

Ponta Delgada, Azores
The biggest surprise of the trip. Beautiful islands that are somewhat similar to Hawaii in their lush landscapes.

Sunrise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean

It is a beautiful world we live in.

I am blessed that I was able to experience some of it this past month.

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