Tonight I’m headed to Europe for the first time since 2001. Unlike Tyler Cowen, I can’t provide lists of the five best long-haired archaeologists from Monaco. So you’ll have to settle for my list of the Best Things European. Here goes:

1. Population. Europe has a lot more people than the U.S., with all the predictable Simonian benefits: Far more variety in architecture, lifestyle, culture, and so on, plus great roads, and short travel times.

2. History. European civilization is thousands of years old, and it shows. It’s got castles. Lots of castles!

3. Rural beauty. Much of the rural U.S. is poor and ugly. Rural Europe combines natural beauty with culture and affluence.

4. Better groceries. European groceries taste better than American groceries. Grapes are bigger and sweeter. The cookies are really yummy. The bread is fantastic. Especially here. The excellence of European groceries, combined with maddeningly slow restaurant service, lead me to have at least one picnic meal per day.

5. Open borders. Within the EU (plus Switzerland), you can cross national borders at 100 miles per hour. Crossing from Switzerland to France is as easy as driving from Virginia to Maryland. Seriously.

and last:

6. The Alps. Awesome.

You probably won’t hear from me for two weeks, but if you see me there, I’d love to meet you.