Last month I went on a two week tour of Europe (Italy, Switzerland, France and London) with my parents. I am 25, an only child and my parents need me to have fun (#TheFrancisThree know how to have a good time). The first 6 nights were spent in Italy, then we stayed two nights each in Switzerland, France and London. We had never been out of the country and we didn’t know what to expect. We did it all: the Coliseum, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican, the Swiss Alps, the Moulin Rouge, the Eiffel tower and Big Ben. That said, here are a few things that might have been helpful to know prior to traveling, just so I could have mentally prepared.
Europeans aren’t concerned with privacy. Be prepared for a glass sliding door as the only barrier between your private bathroom time and your parents (in my case) sitting right outside the door in the closet sized hotel room. (Read: they will hear everything, you will hear everything, you might gag, find the bathroom in the lobby).
Don’t even try to understand why the showers in most hotels have only half a glass door. Shower curtains and shower liners have not made it over the big pond yet it seems.
Since the showers only have half a glass door, don’t worry about the insane amount of water that you cannot control getting from the shower onto the bathroom floor. Just worry about not breaking your neck getting out of the shower.
Oh your hotel room is hot and muggy like the temperature outside? Sorry, Europeans don’t care if they sleep in their sweat apparently so now you can’t either. The front desk controls the AC in most hotels, if the hotels have AC, and they don’t care that you (spoiled Americans) like to sleep in a chilly room so just accept the inevitable boob sweat and deal.
Hope your thigh muscles are rock solid because toilet seats are nonexistent in Europe so those muscles will be put to good use ( #SquatTimeAllTheTime). Have to go #2 while out in public? Bless your heart…
If you were hoping to use public restrooms like you would at Target in the U.S. of A, I am sorry my dear friends, you aren’t. Be ready for extremely long lines leading to one very gross bathroom that men and women most likely share, without a toilet seat (don’t forget).
Oh and the bathrooms cost money. You can either: buy a cappuccino and use the dirty ass bathroom, you can be honest and just hand over a few coins for use of the facilities or you can have your mother distract the café owner while you 007-style try to sneak into the bathroom.
Really you just need to come to terms with the fact that you will be dehydrated the entire trip for fear of the bathroom situation in Europe. Don’t drink water. Stick to wine and pee once a day.
In most places in Europe, the tips are included in the bill and if they aren’t, an appropriate tip is 5 to 10 percent, so put away that euro for 5 bucks that you were going to leave as a tip, P. Diddy. Once you see the bill amount in American dollars, you will need it to wipe away your tears.
Leave your love of super-sized, bottomless cups of coffee in America my friend, it ain’t happening over there. Europeans drink mini coffees large enough for a sip or two. No matter how many times you make the LARGE signal with your hands, you’re not getting one.
Everything is expensive. The number 38 is not universal. If something is 38 euros you need to add on the conversion rate, say .30 cent per dollar and understand you are paying almost 50 American dollars (the U.S. dollar isn’t worth shit) and then add on a few more bucks because your bank will charge a transaction fee. You will come back broke, filled with memories, bread and wine, but poor as hell.
Make sure you pack your patient pants, people, there is a wait for everything. And I say wait instead of line because there are no lines. People just kind of crowd around the cashier and make it happen. You want a café Americano? Get those elbows up and get in there, fight for that coffee! You want to get into the Vatican? Bring a lawn chair, the line is 5 hours long.
The crowds are absolutely unreal in the hot spots in Europe. You will be shoved, you will be pushed and you will most like have a panic attack and possibly curl up in a ball and cry. There is no such thing as southern hospitality so just don’t even expect it and get used to being herded around like cattle, crowd control is nonexistent.
If someone is driving you around refrain from looking out the window, you will almost die at least 30 times in a two week period. If you plan on driving yourself around, just don’t go because you will probably die.
Oh, did you want a nice ice cold Coke? Well you aren’t getting it darling, ice apparently doesn’t exist in Europe. Did you want a straw also, my friend? Well too bad, no straws either.
Did you want some wine? Well great! There is so much wine you won’t know what to do with yourself. Wine for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hopefully you get buzzed enough to not care about sitting on the dirty toilet rim.
I assume it goes without saying that all of these hilarious little tidbits about Europe are nothing (repeat: not even on the radar) compared to how absolutely amazing it is. Europe is the most beautiful place I have ever been. It is truly magnificent in every sense of the word. Each country is so rich in history that you often feel you are in a time machine, standing in sacred places in this world. The food is so fresh and flavorful, the languages are gorgeous, the sunsets are unmatched and the cities are something out of a fairy tale. It is the type of place that almost cannot be described, the culture and history must be experienced, there are no words that do Europe’s beauty justice. So deal with a warm coke, wash the stranger pee off the back of your thighs and go to Europe!
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