It’s been a while since I blogged so here’s something light. Some things I found out about Europe AFTER I’d traveled to Europe. Wish someone would have told me about the water beforehand!
- No washcloths. So in my culture (black folk), we use wash cloths during a shower to wash our bodies. I’ve come to learn that this is not universal in all cultures. There are people out in these streets washing their bodies with just soap and their hands. Which what??? How are you scrubbing off the dirt that way? Do you wash your car with your hands? Or your dishes? So I don’t get that. But apparently this is handed down to European Americans by original Europeans because they don’t do wash cloths in Europe either. So at every European hotel I’ve stayed in, housekeeping is probably like WTH to all these big, soaking wet hand towels I leave in the showers. Because wash cloths.
- If you speak English, you’ll probably be ok. Unlike in the US, many countries around the world, and most that I know of in Western Europe, require students to begin learning English in grade school. It’s their mandatory foreign language requirement. So a lot of the transit/directional signs and menus are written in the local language as well as English and the people understand varying amounts of English. This all applies to the cities. Smaller towns and countryside will be more figure it out-esque.
- The water is…different. So if you order water at a restaurant without any additional instructions, you will be brought a glass and a bottle of water (or they may pour the water for you). The glass will have no ice. The water will be seltzer water. If you want a glass of cold, bubble-free water with ice, you better ask for that. I actually don’t do a bunch of ice so that part is fine with me. But I definitely want “still water”. Oh. Also the water will not be free. We’re spoiled in the States will our luxury of free, refillable water.
- Stand to the right, walk to the left. Or vice versa. I can’t remember. I’m talking escalator etiquette. I forgot that this rule was not an everywhere rule until I landed back in the States and someone stood their big American butt in the middle of the escalator with not even a lean to suggest they may move over. Move! I need to get to the bottom (or top) of this escalator 4 seconds earlier. Because they makes a difference. *side eye*
- Bathrooms may not be free. Bathrooms in public, high transit areas (rest stops, train stations, etc) may require a fee for use. Usually not more than a Euro or a donation. Again, this is a luxury we take for granted in the States. If I’m out and about and the urge hits in the US, I can pretty much walk into anywhere with a bathroom (grocery store, gas station, Target, wherever), use said bathroom, and leave. Not only without paying to use the bathroom, but really without buying anything in the establishment at all. Pretty sure that’s my right as an American citizen. 28th Amendment.
- The locals may know more about current American politics than you do. When I was in China in 2008, the locals quizzed me on my opinion of the presidential race. It was May. In Cuba, they rattled on about the Obama administration. Two months ago in the UK, Pegida marched against Islam touting signs that “Trump is right”. People in the world keep up with what’s going on in America. #AmericaMatters. I could do a whole post on this alone but just expect when you go to Europe (or anywhere), that people there will know something about what’s happening in the States. Best be sure to keep up yourself. For a thousand reasons.
- Speed limit is optional. Ok to be fair this only applies to the autobahn in Germany but when there is no speed limit, there is REALLY no speed limit. I maxed out at 220 km/h (about 136 MPH). And even then, cars were whizzing by me. No thanks. Where’s the ausfahrt please?
There’s so much I probably missed. What else belongs on this list?
Aha I always use loofahs or brushes, if I don’t have one I don’t use cloths either lol.
That interesting to me. Once I found out people use just their hands to get clean, I tried it once and I was like nah. Just felt slippery, like a film of soap was still on me. Gotta use something.
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#iChuckled Thanks for the info. I wasn’t aware of most, especially the wash cloth situation! 🙂
Caught me by surprise the first few times also!
What about the restroom situation. Were there coed type facilities ?
Hi there. I’ve heard that there are coed facilities in Europe. In my travels, I seem to recall encountering just one but I’m not totally sure it wasn’t just me using the men’s room because the ladies room was full LOL.
You actually can get tap water in Europe, but you have to specify. I believe in French you ask for “eau au robinet” and you get free tap water that actually tastes as good as bottled anyway. Also, I don’t mind paying for bathrooms in Europe because they are squeaky clean. Compare bathrooms in train stations in the U.S. with those in Europe. Finally, lots of white people do use wash cloths to bathe. I don’t, but my mom and sister do. I think most women do and most men do not. I could be wrong about that though. Personally I feel that after a wash or two, the washcloth is dirty, whereas soap is soap, so it stays clean.
Thanks for your comment! You’re right, I got accustomed to asking for tap water (which is what I drink in the States anyway) in many countries but it still wasn’t free. I don’t recall getting water in France though. It may have been free and I missed out!
You would definitely change the wash cloths often. I’ve just always wondered how the dirt is being scrubbed off a person’s body using just their hand and some slippery soap. When I visited Cuba (nothing to do with Europe, lol) I would get so dusty walking around the streets of Old Havana that I ended up taking multiple showers a day and the wash cloths I used would be covered in dirt. Can’t imagine if I hadn’t used some sort of cloth or loofah to get all that off!
Anyway thanks for reading and I enjoyed your input.