If you have never been to Europe, you are in for quite a surprise. The EU consists of 28 member countries, is home to 24 official languages and an array of cultural peculiarities. And the driving distances are nothing in comparison to the corn-field be-ridden landscape I grew up in, in the the good ol’ Midwest. And not only that, hop on any sort of public transportation and you can be in a culturally and linguistically completely different world within just a few hours. As an American, I have learned to treasure this, yet I have the feeling that the Europeans aren’t able to appreciate what they have.
But I was not expecting these 9 WTF moments during my travels throughout Europe. Travel Advice Europe.
1. Buying Eggs in Germany
Yes I mean the real, chicken-laid eggs from your normal grocery store. Everybody expects Germany’s visitors to mention its’ German beer, Lederhosen, Bratwurst and Sauerkraut. But my most intensive encounter with the German culture was induced by buying a dozen eggs in Germany. This is what I learned: The Germans sort their eggs by QUALITY, not primarily by SIZE. The Germans have Barn eggs, Cage-free eggs, Semi-cage-free eggs, Semi-organic eggs and Fully organic eggs. Yes, confused out of my American mind – I was only expecting XXL, XL, L, M and S.
From this day forth, I have a high level of respect for the Germans and their ability to sort, categorize and implement their perception of orderliness.
2. Eating Fries in Belgium
Have you ever tried Belgian Fries? Then you probably regret doing so. Are they called French Fries or Freedom Fries? No wait, Chips? This is what I learned: Belgian fries are like the Great White Sharks in the animal kingdom – All other species are AFRAID of you, NOBODY can captivate you and you are most definitely on top of the FOOD CHAIN. The Belgians Fries are twice as thick as American fries, are order-able as a single meal and are even served with an optional extra Fries-only sauce.
From this day forth, I still regret trying Belgian fries for the very first time, yet cigarettes still don’t amuse me.
3. Doing Dinner in France
Juggernauting through the fields of canola in mid-France searching for a place for dinner at 5pm in the evening. Restaurant stop number one is closed, Opening times 7-10pm. Restaurant stop number two is closed, Opening times 7-11pm. Restaurant stop number three… Yes you get the idea. The taste of the freshly-poured glass of Bordeaux in my mouth turned bitter. This is what I learned: Apparently, the French are late-EATERS, and late-afternoon HATERS.
From this day forth, I still haven’t learned to go out to dinner past my bed time.
4. Beachtime in Spain
Cancel that Nudity subscription on Netflix and just spend a nice vacation on a beach in Spain. The beaches on the southern coast of Spain aren’t comparable to those in Florida. Florida may have finer sand, yet the beaches in Spain are secluded and are located between huge cliffs and beautiful landscapes. I learned that the Spaniards have a completely different attitude towards nudity. This goes for women and men alike. Nude beaches are nothing special, there is no different between a so-called “normal” and a “nude” beach in Spain. Talk about packing light.
From this day forth, I observe legal, public nudity as something completely normal and find it quite bizarre when people go swimming in t-shirts.
5. Camping in Sweden
Is a dream. Apart from the fjords, blueberry landscapes, northern lights, reddened barns and nice Swedes, you can camp wherever the heck you want. Yes, the “Allemansrätten” allows you and I to camp on any and every private or public piece of land in Sweden without paying a cent, pence or dime. I would never “trespass” on private lands in the U.S., not even in my wildest dreams. This is what I learned: The Everyman’s Rights in Sweden may possibly be one of the greatest human rights enabling visitors to experience Sweden’s’ beauty up close.
From this day forth, I will forever envy homestead-owners in Sweden for their patience and open-mindedness towards “trespassers” on their property without using their 2nd Amendment rights.
6. Celebrating New Years in Hungary
Hungary is one pure culinary treat. The home of Pörkölt, Gulasch, Langos and Stuffed cabbage. But the Hungarian folk sure know how to put on a party, especially to celebrate the New Year in its’ capital, Budapest. In the States, New Years is all about the seafood, more food and watching sports on TV. I learned that: In Hungary, its all about eating good food, traditional music AND getting out on the streets and shooting off fireworks.
From this day forth, I trust an urban firework-shooting Hungarian celebrating New Years more than the best-secured Fourth of July Fireworks show in the U.S.
7. Going Out in the Netherlands
This is no longer as shocking as it used to be, ever since a few U.S. States have gone legal. Yet, I found it to be rather interesting seeing leafy greens of Mary on balconies, in kitchen windows and on the street. Denver is now comparable to Amsterdam. But, I learned that the most relaxed human being is a Holland-born angler out fishing with his wife Mary-Jane.
From this day forth, I will ___________________ (insert text).
8. Driving in Italy
Do you have a drivers license? Italy made me question my driving abilities to the maximum. The round-abouts don’t have any lanes, some streets are merely alley-ways, Italians know how to accelerate & brake all at the same time and the pizza-delivery bikes are the pits. The worst part is, one must assimilate and drive just as careless, so that nobody notices you’re not from there. But, I learned that yelling out your window is sometimes better than honking.
From this day forth, I will yell out my window first, then I shall honk my horn.
9. Buying Gasoline (Petrol) in Luxembourg
If you are traveling Europe via automobile, then you need to map Luxembourg. And if you’ve never been abroad, you should know that we (the Americans) pay only a fraction of what the Europeans have to pay for their gasoline. Except for the folk of Luxembourg (almost). I learned that if you are traveling through Luxembourg, ALWAYS FILL UP your car with gasoline in Luxembourg. You should bring some patience with you, because half of Europe wants to tank gas in Luxembourg as well.
From this day forth, I will never complain about the gasoline prices in the Unites States.