Everything is still a blur so far, so it's waaaaaaaaaay too soon to make any sort of meaningful judgments about quality of life. But here are some cursory observations of things that have made it very clear that we weren't in Basel any longer:
--Getting yelled at to move back on the people mover from the gate to the terminal at Dulles Airport...and having no problem yelling back that we had a stroller and people weren't getting out of our way so we couldn't move if we wanted to.
--The ever-so-friendly welcome given visitors trying to get through customs and immigration at Dulles...huge lines for non-US citizens, instructions and admonishments being given only in muddled-but-loud English, bags strewn everywhere and jet-lagged passengers wandering aimlessly, people yelling at staff about missing bags...God bless America!
--Slow driver in the left lane? No problem--just pass on the right! (This is almost a hanging offense in most of Europe.)
--A bottle of water at the airport cost $2.50...and I marveled at how cheap it was compared to Zurich.
--Sunday afternoon and stores and restaurants were open.
--Arrival at 2:45pm. Clear customs and immigration at 3:30pm. Get in cab at 3:45pm. First traffic jam (on a Sunday afternoon, no less) at 4:00pm.
--Hear more horns honking (and use my own horn) in 2 days than in the previous 3 years.
--Nearly get run over in a crosswalk.
--Stop my car to let people walk in the crosswalk and they give me a merciful wave of thanks while drivers behind me stare daggers.
--Ethnic food. Tasty. Plentiful. Inexpensive. Delivered. Quickly.
--Strangers in residential neighborhoods not only say hello when out walking, but actually engage you in conversation.
--Buildings' ground floors are 1, not 0.
--The sweet smell of mulch
in the spring air (this may be a very DC thing, but in the spring basically every square inch of bare ground in any half-respectable garden is covered with mulch).
--Customer service that is either over-the-top friendly and helpful or maddeningly hostile and incompetent.
--Gretchen went into a couple of local stores and was so overwhelmed by the sheer variety that she almost shed tears of joy.
--More ethnic diversity (people, not food) in one block than in most (all?) Swiss towns and cities.
--In Basel, half of the roads were under construction but were otherwise in perfect condition...here, very few roads are under construction but are otherwise cracked and potholed like crazy.
We'll have more as we go along, I'm sure...