2014, Como, Italy. A little gas station with fuel prices showing why Italians favor small cars, scooters and bicycles, or diesel-engined vehicles.
At the exchange rate of the time, the price for basic unleaded was just over $9/gallon. Parking space being scarce in the hilly medieval cities probably added to the emphasis on smaller vehicles.
Inside, the picture was a bit different from the US gas stations. While the convenience store was similar in principle, the level of quality was rather different.
Good quality, made to order coffee was available. So was a variety of liquors. I was reminded of that quite forcibly a week later in Bucksnort, Tennessee, where I made the mistake of getting American gas station coffee. Almost three years later, I still remember my reaction to the foul taste. I dumped the coffee, quite sure that is was actually 50/50 mix of used motor oil and possum feces. There’s no way actual coffee could taste that bad…except that US somehow manages to have worse quality bread and beverages than some of the poorest European countries.
Why does even a provincial train station in Italy has freshly squeezed orange juice and baked goods worth eating, while even more cosmopolitan parts of the US have nothing better than donuts with disgusting corn syrup glaze and similarly unappetizing junk?