Jetsetting Americans Share Their Most Clueless European Vacation Moments
_There is a whole, big, crazy world out there to go see. And when Americans wander beyond the gates they can be shocked by some of the cultural differences. Or just by the difference in diet and vodka. _
Redditor _Cyber-Gon inquired what are the biggest surprise that await American travelers abroad. _
WHO DOESN'T LOVE CALAMARI?
Had a positive WTF moment in Greece in the eastern Peloponnese where I saw a guy walk down to the end of a pier and throw an actual trident into the Aegean and pull out a wriggling octopus. Dude walked up the beach and handed it over the deck railing to a chef.
NEVER DRINK THE WATER!
Spent a summer in Germany. They had the cleanest/safest/best tasting tap water, but nobody drank it and they called it toilet water.
Also the older people in village seemed super grumpy and mean and would never smile or respond if you said hello or good morning, BUT if you asked them a substantive question, like how to get to the museum, they would spend 15 minutes telling you the fastest way to get there, the scenic way to get there, everything interesting you should do on the way there, why that museum isn't actually that good and you should go to this other museum instead, all the different ways to get to the better museum, and where their grandmother used to live before the war.
SOCCER IS NO JOKE!
Going to a soccer game in Italy. When buying a ticket, they needed to know which team I was rooting for to determine where I could sit. Then, during the game, people were setting things on fire.
WTF Europe: When you realize that everything is closed on Sunday, because Sunday is sacred. Not in a religious way necessarily, but in a "our free time is sacred." Took a train through the German countryside on a Sunday and the fields were just full of people doing stereotypical free time activities: afternoon strolls, kites and model airplanes, fishing, etc.
THE BIRDS! THE BIRDS!
We were driving through Spain, and to the side of one of the roads, we noticed these MASSIVE bird nests in the high power electrical towers. They were at least twice the size of eagles nests that I had seen. And there were so many of them!
Then we saw these giant birds in them! We stopped by the side of the road and tried to take some pictures (didn't have a great zoom lens, sadly). But no one else was stopping. It was so odd. We are accustomed to at least a few people stopping to watch the osprey, eagles, or other birds where I'm from. So a few days later, we are chatting with a German tourist, and we bring up the birds... I think she thought we were joking until we pulled out the pictures. Then she started laughing. Storks. Those are storks. Of course, don't you know that? They are everywhere and such a nuisance. Don't you have storks in America?
Then she looked confused. Well, if you don't have storks, who brings the babies in kids stories? Storks. Um...how does that work?
And that was when we realized that the story of the storks makes a whole lot more sense when storks are nesting on every chimney, tree, or tall place....
BOW DOWN TO ROYALTY!
Went to Dover England and saw a FREAKING castle. The newest section was built like 300-400 years before my country was founded. Turned a corner and the next part was 200 years older than that. Ten minutes later walk up to a Roman light house built 2000 years ago. Daaaammmnnn!!
PENNIES ADD UP.
When I visited Prague and water cost two crowns and beer cost one.
UMBRELLA... ELLA... ELLA...
One time in Rome, it started pouring. As I sought shelter, I saw an older man selling one single umbrella. Strange as it was, I needed that umbrella, so I haggled with him and settled on 3 Euro (he had the upper hand in that transaction).
I wander over to a coffee shop to dry out for a little bit. When I go to leave, the umbrella is no longer in the bucket by the door. Upset at myself for being so trusting, I head into the rain again. Guess who I see? The same old man selling the same umbrella. I try to confront him about stealing back my umbrella, but he claims not to remember our interaction at all. It's pouring and I have a number of miles to walk, so I go through the same charade with him again to re-procure the umbrella.
At least this time he took 2 Euro...
IT'S ALL IN THE SERVICE.
Went to Sweden on a vacation package. Stayed at a wonderful historic hotel for part of the trip that had a restaurant inside of it. Part of our package called for a free dinner at the hotel and we had asked that it be the night we arrived.
We arrived and got settled in our room and then went to check out the restaurant. As soon as we walked in, there was no one there, only a hostess. She immediately said they were expecting us and we could sit anywhere. There was no one else in this gorgeous, ornate restaurant. A waiter came out and said they had prepared a special meal for us. We asked why it was so empty and he said the restaurant was closed one day a week and today was that day.
We were shocked, we apologized profusely and told them that we had booked through another company and would have just scheduled it for another day. He said it was no problem and we had some free extras such as wine and dessert. The main course ended up being a huge piece of meat, which we jokingly said must have been because we were big fat Americans. No one rushed us, we had a great time, and after we left they closed the restaurant for the night.
It was a total WTF moment because if you booked something like this in America, they'd either force you to reschedule or just have the restaurant closed with no explanation.
WHAT'S THE RUSH?
every meal in Paris taking 3 hours.
I loved the culture and I'm all about eating a relaxing meal, but sometimes it was just like "wtf" when we were on a schedule and had to meet up with a tour group or had reservations for something.
THOSE PESKY DANES.
My American friends who visited The Netherlands: Completely surprised by our bicycle 'things':
a) so many bicycles -everywhere-
b) everybody riding without a helmet
c) so many different bicycles
HISTORY ALWAYS PLAYS A PART.
It was subtle at first, but it eventually boggled my mind how old everything was and it was still integrated into everyday life. Like in the UK, drinking in pub that had been in the same spot since the 11th Century, or eating dinner at restaurant in an 18th cathedral. Or in Prague going to club in a 14th Century stone cellar or staying a hotel/brewery that had be operating since the 15th Century.
The oldest building in my vicinity is from the 1750s (which is prehistoric by US standards), but, like, someone in Europe sees a building that is half a millenia old that no one is using and they're like, "Let's turn this into a disco." I loved it.
NO FLIES FOR YOU!
For me it was a lack of insects in England. Not that they don't exist but I'm from Michigan with lots of swampy land around me. When I showed up at my dorm and saw there was no screen on my window I was just thinking about all of the bugs that are gonna get in my room. I got one fly the entire month stay there.
I THOUGHT BIRTHDAY SUITS HAD AGE RESTRICTIONS.
At a lake retreat in Germany, kids playing in/around the lake naked.
GOTTA GO GOTTA GO GOTTA RIGHT NOW!
Paying to use a public restroom. I get why though. Just a horrible feeling if you really had to go and you don't have any change.
HANGING OUT IN A GHOST TOWN.
I was in Italy and wanted to grab a bite and a beer for some lunch. I left the flat and I was flabbergasted to find the entire town was empty. Everything was closed, not even the neighborhood dogs were around!
KEEP IT SPIC AND SPAN.
Every night in Spain, around 3 a.m. this MASSIVE fleet of street scrubbers, vacuum-mobiles, and water hoses appeared and cleaned the entire city for about an hour. It was like ~100 people every night just cleaning the city. The following morning, all of Salamanca was spotless. That s*was magical.
EVERY CALORIE COUNTS.
In Spain, everyone appears to be very thin, yet I swear eats a loaf of bread a day.
DO YOU FEEL THAT NEED FOR SPEED?
In Italy there is virtually no threshold for how much distance should be left between a speeding car and any obstacles (including pedestrians) it is zooming past.
A bus driver will rush down a narrow cobblestone street with about a centimeter to spare between the sides of the bus and any parked cars, walls, ancient monuments, or playing children.
HEALTHCARE FOR ALL! WHY IS THAT HARD?
When I? visited the hospital and had X-rays done, spoke with two doctors and was triaged by a nurse, all with no health insurance, and my total bill was 24euros. Then I? had to pay 10 additional euros for some painkillers, again with no insurance or anything.