When I first went to Paris, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the city's architecture, its rich history, and the plethora of local pâtisserie options.
I was also extremely disoriented and not ready for the cutlure shock.
Maybe it was just the particular establishments, but I was berated for changing the position of my chair at a sidewalk café to face my lunch date. I didn't realize all chairs had to face outward towards the traffic view on the street.
Again, maybe I was unlucky with the restaurant choice.
At another restaurant, my coke was brought to the table in a can with an empty glass. No ice.
When I asked for it to be cold with ice, the server came back with a single ice cube perched on a spoon and proceeded to pour the can's contents directly over the ice cube on the spoon, which hovered over the glass. He then took said spoon away – with the ice.
I guess that's how they roll.
And yet, I wondered if the French visiting the states were appalled at finding "cold" beverages being diluted with the melting ice cubes in their glasses.
Curious to hear of examples of culture shock from strangers on the internet, Redditor FloridaLife96 asked:
You can expect cuisine to be a huge difference from what you're used to back home. But there's more to what your palate experiences when it comes to food experiences in America.
"Chocolate soft serve ice cream. I could not understand why we didn't have that in Norway as it had to be the best invention i the history of mankind. I was 8 BTW."
Portion Control, Or Lack Thereof
"The size of your popcorn portions when I went to watch a film. My whole arm could fit in the box." – Stapes89
"I bought a popcorn+soda combo and the soda was like 1L. Hurt my arm holding it. I don't know how anyone can finish 1L in one sitting. My family can't even finish a liter during dinner."
"I was on a trip to LA a few years back. We went to see a movie, and holy sh*t there are so many types of soda. Where I'm from there's 2 versions of a soda: sugar or no sugar."
"These crazy motherf'kers got cherry, vanilla, cinnamon, orange, pineapple, birch beer???, Cherry limonade, grape, Banana, fruit punch, peach, Mango, cranberry, lemon lime with cucumber and the list just goes on."
Contrasting environments were either pleasantly jarring or completely disappointing for these Redditors.
One The Road
"How on one side of a highway there can be a full-on ghetto, and on the other side of that highway there can be a relatively nice middle-class or even upscale neighborhood."
"Also, just how many police cars you see all the time."
"I was awestruck when on my coast to coast roadtrip we first entered the plains of Texas. You could see for miles and miles in any direction. It felt like you could see tomorrow's weather in the distance. Later I was even more awestruck at the sights of your country's deserts and the canyons, including a grand one."
"How unglamorous LA actually is, compared to how it is depicted in TV shows/movies."
"Hollywood is the absolute worst."
"When I first moved here I couldn't believe how different things were state to state. Some states are more different from one another than neighboring European nations are."
"The spaces between door and door frames in public toilets...I mean do you want to make eye contact with someone while sitting there ?"
Perceptions Of People
People say New Yorkers are rude. We're just direct and tell it like it is.
Some say Los Angeles is too slow. Maybe you're too fast.
How people engage in different parts of the country can be fascinating for sure.
"How open people were to start a conversation with a stranger(me). Where I'm from people are much more closed off. The restaurant food portions. One meal is equivalent to two or three meals for me The lack of proper public transport ( except in NY) The fact that a lot of people consider a 2 or 3 hour drive, a short drive."
People Are Direct
"How direct people are. Been to the US only once (NY, Queens, 2011) as part of a student exchange. People are straight to the point. Most of the times they are nice about it, while still being very concise. Love that. Also, how big everything is. From roads, to the campus, to the dorm room we were staying in etc"
Reactions To Accents
"The number of people who find a British accent difficult to understand (asking for water was a consistently humiliating experience)."
"You guys really are obsessed with your military."
"People in the military and vets get treated like celebrities. Unless they're homeless of course, then nobody gives a sh*t about them."
As a Japanese-American, I was blown away by how different things were even in my native country.
What stayed with me after visiting Tokyo was how clean the metropolitan areas were and how the locals respected cleanliness. Even more shocking was the absence of litter on the streets and sidewalks despite the lack of garbage cans in public.
People literally carried their snack wrappings or empty beverage cans with them until they were able to dispense them in receptacles found in convenience stores.
I look forward to being able to travel again and explore other worlds and learn from their cultures.
Wondrous landmarks you've seen in history books and in the background of some of your favorite cinema have an allure that makes you want to visit in person.
Seeing something breathtaking like the Grand Canyon or the Eiffel Tower is definitely impressive and simply cannot be taken in by merely looking at a photograph.
And then there are those landmarks that just leave you feeling disappointed and taking the obligatory "been there done that" selfie.
In all deference to Leonardo da Vinci, seeing the Mona Lisa in person was disappointing due to its miniature size. For me, the Louvre Museum itself was more awe-inspiring than the anticipatory main event.
Curious to hear about the impression of strangers, Redditor PSpen88 asked:
"The Four Corners in the US. It's just a concrete circle in the desert. Like, idk what else I expected, but I was disappointed."
"Plymouth Rock stinks. Just go to the Lobster Pot and get the fried plate and that will make your day a whole lot better."
Walk Of Fame
"Hollywood walk of fame. Such a dirty place full of homeless people, weirdos and rappers trying to sell you their CD. Really doesn't live up to the hype."
"The Las Vegas welcome sign. I thought it would be a lot taller."
"Not saying you shouldn't go and make up your own mind, but Las Vegas is very trashy; an entire city devoted to gambling and strip clubs was never pretending to be anything else."
"Essentially every famous bakery or restaurant I've been to in the US/Canada with a massive line out the door. The longer the line, the sh!ttier it is."
"The statue of The Little Mermaid in Copenhagen. Seriously, I had bigger action figures as a kid."
"I live in San Antonio and everytime I walk or drive by the Alamo its pretty wack."
"Man! I thought the Alamo was going to be a beastly bastard. It's like the size of a middle class house."
"Mount Rushmore. It's really far away from the viewing area."
"Stonehenge. Rocks behind a rope. Fun times."
I loved working on cruise ships because it allowed me to travel extensively to locations I would never get to if it weren't for the job.
If I had to choose my favorite destination, I would go with Santorini. The rugged topography shaped by a major volcanic eruption during the 16th century BC lends itself to an otherworldly sight.
I remember riding a mule to the top of the underwater caldera and taking in the majestic view of the Aegean Sea and rendering me speechless.
When Redditor throwawaycrossstitch asked, "Hands down, what's the most beautiful place on Earth that you've ever been to? What made it so?", Redditors responded with some of their favorite locales that will make you want to pack your bags.
Ready for a virtual trip? Let's go!
"I have never been outside of Europe, I'm Danish and grew up in the middle class so we only ever went on small European travels for a week or so every 2-3 years."
"A few years ago my father, stepmom, my two sisters and I were in Crete and my father decided to rent a car and go through a valley up a mountain to this small village that was surrounded by nothing but high hills and mountainsides. The village itself was beautiful in its culture and atmosphere of hospitality, even though there were a few gift shops, which kind of brought a touristy feel to an otherwise peaceful and 'out of reach' place."
"The real beauty was on the way back, when we stopped to take a hike down through a forest. It was the most beautiful walk I have ever been on, we walked on small stone paths laid by mountainside civilization more than 200 years prior, ate figs off a naturally growing fig tree and saw an old abandoned stone house. It was beautiful, and I took some nice pictures of my family to preserve the memories."
"The only other place I can think of that comes close is probably the old war tracks outside of Rome we walked by, back when I was on my high school study trip. The cobblestones laid on the road by ancient romans leading to small towns with wine cellars and a whole lot of culture."
"We have stayed on Big Island twice. In February, around my birthday, we flew over to Kauai for a day. It's exactly what I have always pictured when I hear "Hawaii". When we go back, we are staying there. Napali coast is on the list!"
"Innsbruck Austria. You see that bench over there? I passed out on the son of a b*tch after a night of partying in germany at a concert. Someone woke me up with breakfast, an espresso and this drink thats like gatorade. Spent that day recovering in Venice."
Eighth Wonder Of The World
"Milford Sound in the south island of New Zealand."
"Writer Rudyard Kipling once described it as, 'the eighth Wonder of the World'; and, after visiting it this year, I am in full agreement."
"For me it would be the Namib Desert."
"Maybe for most people it would seem a strange choice, but there is this haunting beauty of endless acres of shifting sands and emptiness contrasted against the wide sky. You feel like you are the only person on earth. And then you begin to notice that it isn't empty. There are signs of life here and there. Hardy and resilient. Traces of animals and insects passing by. Relics of humanity in ruins, abandoned buildings, vehicles, and ones far older, in carvings and designs on the rocks themselves. And then you get to the coast, and this mass of rock and sand crashes against the Atlantic, empty, as far as the eye can see."
"Its an experience and feeling that is hard to describe in words, but will stick with you always."
"A close second would be the Mountains ranges of the Himalayas, Hindu-Kush, Karakoram."
"Iceland, without a doubt. The waterfalls are stunning, the people are friendly, and the views, oh the views are from different world."
Norway Is Unreal
"I was backpacking in Norway once and made it up to the Lofoten Islands. It's far enough north that you can experience the northern lights or the midnight sun - I got the latter bc I was there in May. Think light turquoise waters, cotton candy-colored skies, and incredible views anywhere you went. I hiked to the overlook of Reinebringen (look it up, seriously) at 3 am and watched a storm roll in."
"Idk man, the whole place looked unreal. The colors, the gnarly, massive, terrifying fjords. Go to Norway y'all."
Goosebumps From The Alps
"Swiss alps and specifically the Jungfrau region. I've been there multiple times now and it still gives me goosebumps."
"The Grand Canyon, at night, looking up at the stars. It appears infinite, and is incredibly humbling. Hands down is the most beautiful thing I've ever seen."
When In Montana
"Glacier National Park, Montana, US. You drive up into the mountains and then no matter which direction you hike you are surrounded by stunning, snow-capped mountains (even in August), crystal-clear lakes, tiny waterfalls coming down the mountains, and wide fields of wildflowers."
A Gem In Japan
"When I visited Kyoto a few years back, my friend and I visited the Okochi Sanso Gardens. At a certain point, you can see these lush mountains, my friend and I stood in silence for a few minutes. The view and sounds of nature really made me so emotional."
Truly, it is a decade defined by improvisation.
Throughout those years, a person sits in a very peculiar sweet spot. On one hand, you are finally a full-blown adult, and you enjoy the freedoms and autonomy offered by that fact.
But you're also the most inexperienced version of adult that could possibly exist. And so you are rather clueless about the best way to live and be.
Anyone that age could use some wisdom and mentorship--someone who navigated that madhouse of a decade and recognized their successes and failures.
ReddBolt5 asked, "What should one do in their 20s to avoid regrets in 30s and 40s?"
Life is Malleable
"Always know that change is an option. Many people, myself included, start down a path and think that since I committed to that path, it's the only path for me. Don't get caught in that thought process."
"If a choice (career, location, relationship, etc) doesn't feel right down the road, know you can make a new one. It may be uncomfortable at first, but you can make it through (and likely for the better)."
Stay Above Water
"Don't get into credit card debt!" -- 8Gly8
"This sh** will ef up your life as much, if not more, than smoking or drinking or crappy eating etc."
"You can be taught how credit cards work, and it can still be hard to wrap your brain around, until it's too late." -- Go_Cart_Mozart
Knowledge is Power
"Learn how to budget. Even if it's just a simple excel or google sheets file with one column of income, and one of expenses."
"When you see everything you buy in a month next to each other, you realize where you can save money pretty well."
Take Care of That Outer Layer
"Sunscreen" -- greatredwoodofawhore
"long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists." -- radiogrill
"And don't go to tanning beds" -- raketheleavespls
In Their Prime
"Go see your favorite musical acts when they are young, together, and /or alive. and not selling out to fu** you price arena tours." -- classicsat
"I'll take this one further and say to just go see as much live music as possible."
"I don't regret any of the concerts I've been to in my life, but there are a bunch I regret NOT going to." -- ghettomagicrooster
YOU are the Only Constant
"Learn how to be independently happy" -- PGMG17
"I wish someone could have screamed this in my face with a megaphone whenever I was about to do something codependently stupid in my 20s and early 30s, lol." -- sulesko
"Make sure that if you have a relationship with someone you actually nail down the long term goals and agree on them... Like kids? How exactly will that work? Marriage?"
"Find your deal breakers and take them seriously... From 20-30 the time really flies and you don't want to miss it."
Go Where You're Good
"When choosing your job/profession/career, ignore the horrible life advice to 'follow your passion.' Instead, you should follow your aptitude."
"Identify what you are good at, find a way to use it to bring value to others, work like crazy to do that."
"The happiness/meaning/life-satisfaction will come as a result of being able to build a good life for yourself and those you care about."
Before Leaping Gets Harder
"If you yearn for adventure, go now. You are young, your body is strong, and your obligations are few. Go now."
"It's so much easier to drop everything in your life for a 6-month hiking trip and then slide back into regular life when you're 25 than when you're 35." -- LowCalPal
"I am grateful for everything I have but I wish I would have realized that there was another option to the regular old 9-to-5. I'm 43 now and physically limited due to an auto accident."
"You never know what life has in store so enjoy it to the fullest while you can." -- babyhaby
"Invest in yourself by making healthy choices both physically and financially" -- Kaste90
"Included in this: learn to cook." -- raketheleavespls
"So hard to do since people have a hard time showing any empathy for their future self." -- 5yn3rgy
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Where in the world shall we all go to hide? Ok, maybe not to hide, but to find a little peace and tranquility. Let's spin a globe and see where our fingers land? Sounds like a plan right? If only life could be that easy. There are many specifics to take into account when planning vacation travel and one that tends to be overlooked is population. Certain destinations sound alluring and glorious but you have to ask yourself.... how many people are also heading there? Possibly too many. A crystal sand beach is fabulous, but are you sharing it with ten thousand other people. The issue of tourists is always one to take into account. When too many tourists are mucking about they can ruin many a good time. Just ask anyone visiting or LIVING in New York City and Los Angeles.
Let's see who had some ideas a Redditor recently posed the question.... What beautiful place have you visited that isn't a mainstream tourist destination that you recommend people visit?
Above & Beyond....orange sky GIFGiphy
Carrick-a-Rede It's a little coastal trail and rope bridge on the coast of Northern Ireland. It's often overlooked by tourists that go to the amazing Giant's Causeway. In my opinion, Carrick-a-Rede is just as much of a must see. Such beautiful scenery.
A Quiet Kingdom
It's a small independent kingdom, bordered entirely by South Africa.
It's a gorgeous country. Mountainous, green. People travel on horseback, there are always shepherds in the valleys, their songs echoing across the mountains.
After the big crowds in Johannesburg and/or the big national parks, Lesotho is extremely tranquil. A great country.
When in Spain
Zaragoza in Spain, plenty to do and see without the crowds of bigger tourist cities.
Fun fact about Zaragoza: when the space shuttle was launching it had scrub landing sites scattered around the world. This required the runways could handle the weight and length along with telemetry. Zaragoza was the one set up for use for the last series of launches. When the shuttle would climb to too high an altitude they would announce "negative Zaragoza" meaning they could not scrub to there.
But if they had... 6 people would've crossed from Florida to Spain in about 20 minutes and for only a billion dollars.
The Hillsscotland dancing GIF by Hey DuggeeGiphy
The Scottish Highlands and the Flint Hills in Kansas They are both seriously, breath taking and beautiful.
As a KCMO guy I have to say I hate Kansas, but I think the Konza three loop trail outside Manhattan saved my life while going to K-State. A beautiful hilly place in a terribly flat world.
Off the Coast....
A little Island off the coast of Cambodia called Koh Rong. I would worry about people ruining it, but, last time I was there the Chinese were going to build a small airstrip, so it probably already is.
Sticking with the Cambodia theme, Battambang is a beautiful little city that I don't think most westerners consider visiting when seeing Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat. Awesome sights and art. And obviously amazing food.
To the Tapirs....
Tapir Valley Nature Preserve, Bijagua, Costa Rica.
While Costa Rica has many areas that are "mainstream tourist destinations," this isn't one of them. Created to leave it as natural as possible, they have limited numbers of persons per day. It's easy to see elusive tapirs here, as previous visitors can testify. For birders, three are several hundred species living here, mostly due to the variety of habitats. It is adjacent to Tenorio National Park.
Looks like Hawaii.....
Lamu, Kenya: 14th century island city, Islamic stone architecture (no cars on the island because the streets are too narrow), bioluminescent algae, amazing beaches.
Diani beach, Kenya: looks like Hawaii.
Sipi Falls, Uganda: views of the plains, beautiful waterfalls.
Edit to add: white sand beaches of Malawi.
Cheap RussianDance Russia GIF by Jason ClarkeGiphy
Vladivostok is the last trans-siberian railway city in Russia and the borders are North Korea, China and Japan. If you want to rest in the beach in an european-style city in Asia and eat delicious asian and Russian food for a cheap price then come here.
I went to the Osa Peninsula and stayed at Lapa Rios in 2017 and it was one of the most beautiful and magical places I've ever been!! Seeing monkeys and parrots in the SAME tree blew my mind and pretty much fulfilled all expectations of tropical paradises I imagined when I was younger. I mean, I saw a scarlet macaw fly by my bathroom window while I was on the toilet. Probably the most memorable poop I'll ever take.
Go Gothicserious fred armisen GIF by IFCGiphy
A city in the north of Poland called Gdansk. It's an old Hansa port full of Gothic churches, stone cobbled streets, beer gardens on the banks of canals and quirky artists. I don't know why it isn't more popular.
I'm here right now and it is absolutely jammed with Polish tourists. But from what I hear, it's only like this in summer. I know what you mean though. I went from never hearing about it to thinking it is one of the most beautiful European cities period.
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