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I've traveled quite a bit in Europe. I don't know what to say really. There is a certain sense of being "European". Maybe we are more formal in certain ways, than Americans are, especially with hellos and good byes. OTOH French people touch strangers and are very kissy kissy with friends. The Brits don't seem this way to me. But for the most part on an everyday basis I felt very comfortable in the UK.

 

Americans are not rude, but many are very America-centric. They expect to be treated in shops and resturants as they would when they are in their home towns, without realizing that there is a different way people behave and they should attempt to conform to that without feeling coerced.

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This sort of sums it up for me. I don't think people in any country really expect a tourist to be up on customs and such. Enjoy your vacation and don't get upset over things that are most likely cultural differences. I remember expecting lemon at seafood restaurants in Korea. The answer was, "we just don't use it!!!!" Such a natural combination I thought to myself. :rolleyes:

 

I spent two weeks in Germany as a teenager. It was a student exchange program. The boy spent time with us in the Beaujolais and then I went to visit his family. They were wonderful. But there was one community party that the mom told me I should not go to because of my background. No big deal to me. I remember that family and how much love they showed me. Maybe I'm this way because I don't expect the world I know at home is the center of the Universe.

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Nevertheless, since I myself have sometimes been facetious in more or less serious threads, I can hardly complain when posters here seek their fun by being outrageous. Besides, I think the membership here is sufficiently savvy to recognize that some advice, about London, say, is offered tongue in cheek. And perhaps future posters will offer some corrective notes. I myself, however, don't intend to police up the thread. That smacks of censorship, and censorship offends me.

 

I guess there is a difference between fecious and facetious....being facetious of course. :rolleyes:

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I think going with an open mind about the culture (understanding it will be different from your own) and making every attempt to speak the local language are key.

(don't know if that's what you're looking for here....)

Yes

 

But I was happy to leave my culture behind and to seek out and enjoy all the differences I could find.

 

that too.

 

Plus not worrying about the size and shape of one's foot.

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Ah, no wonder I had such a tough time of it.  Fanx.

 

You think any kind of slogan on a t-shirt would help?  How about "I don't have a big nose but please feel free to ask if I'm Jewish" ?

 

:rolleyes:

Speaking of which, what is the appropriate response to the comment "but you don't look Jewish"?

usually preceded by "Really?", or "Are you joking?".

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Melonious writes:  "Gee Maurice, I thought you asked a serious question.  At least it seemed that way from the way you worded it."  And Miguel writes:  " I thought this was a serious question. Feel free Maurice to provide some pointers."

 

Actually, when I posed this thread's central question, I sort of anticipated useful answers.  Although I know a bunch of useful stuff for Paris and France, there's a lot I'd like to know about other European countries.

 

Nevertheless, since I myself have sometimes been facetious in more or less serious threads, I can hardly complain when posters here seek their fun by being outrageous.  Besides, I think the membership here is sufficiently savvy  to recognize that some advice, about London, say, is offered tongue in cheek.  And perhaps future posters will offer some corrective notes.  I myself, however, don't intend to police up the thread.  That smacks of  censorship, and censorship offends me.

first of all, thank you mo (i hope i'm not being rude. a few friends named maurice are called "mo" as endearment) for your words of wisdom. i wish all people in chat forums would adopt the same feelings about censorship, and about a broader understanding of fun, and outrageousness.

 

as far as the "french" idea of always including monsieur or madame, well, that's just called being polite, no matter the location. my mater et pater always insisted that we include at the end of all greetings and short responses their name, such as "yes dad", or "i am going to my friends' house, mom". it was a sign of politeness and respect, to be repeated to any person deserving of such.

as has been proven in business, especially sales and service, the inclusion of the person's name when addressing them has a statistically better chance of success. sir and ma'am will work, but the person's name if known is best used.

 

some things i can add about travelling in europe, specifically ireland are:

 

1. if you are invited for tea, you drink every cup offered, no matter how badly your kidneys may burst. be ready to drink about 40 cups a day, loaded with milk.

2. when visiting belfast, do not videotape border areas or police stations, such as the divis tower, and falls and shankill roads, if your rental car has a southern registration, especially in spring or early summer.

3. do not try to pronounce signs or other things written in irish, or make any jokes about how they sound. irish as a live language is barely hanging on by a thread, but is fiercely defended as a national cause and source of pride.

4. big, friendly greetings, gestures, or even questions are not appropriate when entering a home or establishment. speaking "a bit low" at first is considered polite. it's strange, but being loud, even if friendly or polite is considered rude.

5. do not ask garage attendants for directions, especially on the west coast. they delight in sending you the wrong way. you are better off asking a barman in a pub, or a shop clerk.

6. don't kiss the blarney stone. the locals piss on it at night.

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M, I'll help you out.... :rolleyes:

 

stand on the right side on the escalator. the left side is for people who are too busy to stop moving. English people do also not speak loudly on the underground, foreigners do!

 

no need to tip more than 12.5% (15% max) in restaurants. only add £1-2 to tip taxi cabs.

 

Leciester Square is truly hideous, do not go to.

 

Marylebone High St, Kensington High Street and Carnby St are much nicer places to shop than Oxford/Regent St.

 

If you want lovely antiquarian books go to Sotherans on Sackville St. :o

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first of all, thank you mo (i hope i'm not being rude. a few friends named maurice are called "mo" as endearment) for your words of wisdom. i wish all people in chat forums would adopt the same feelings about censorship, and about a broader understanding of fun, and outrageousness.

Actually, you can call me almost anything you want. My mother, however, would have slapped you silly. And thank you for the kind words. I find it a little distressing when colleagues on this board forget collegiality and let their high sensibilities interfere with friendly intercourse. I, personally, love friendly intercourse and remember it fondly.

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When in Germany (or just meeting a German) don't make jokes about people being Nazis. Not because they are in denial but rather because they've hashed it out to death already, and it shows you know nothing about all the turmoil that happened there after the war.

 

 

Things that you can make fun of:

 

- That they always look for the cheapest possible hotel rooms, and try to squeeze out extra savings wherever possible.

 

- That in a conversation they will go on and on about what is wrong with the US.

 

- Horrible taste in music.

 

- That they will wake up at 6am on a vacation to put a towel down on the best part of the beach. (I know the British use this one against them, probably 'cause the British never make it out before 7am.)

 

- That the public servants are bureaucratic to the point of absurdity.

 

- That they have a thing for staring at people who are not dressed like everybody else in the room.

 

- How they complain endlessly about their economy when in fact it's really not all that bad at all.

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Americans are not rude. It's a vicious rumour started by the French.

Of course they aren't, but they aren't as terminally apologetic as Canadians and thus it is easy to spot the difference :rolleyes:

 

My travel experiences in Europe are sadly limited, but the country in which I have spent the most time is Holland. I have always stayed with relatives who have (I hope) kept me from looking too much of a foreign fool (I look pretty stereotypically Dutch). The Dutch are extremely proud of their country and quite tolerant of outsiders as a rule, especially if they begin an acquaintance by complimenting the Dutch on how clean or well-run Holland is.

 

Fly

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When I spent a week in Croatia (you are going to Croatia, aren't you?), about all I knew of the country was what I saw on t.v. during the war. I was travelling on the cheap and dressed somewhat like I'd dressed when I backpacked through Asia. Big shock. Zagreb was one of the most cosmopolitan cities I've been to. The people dressed much better than NYers (probably shouldn't have been a surprise). The energy in the main square (I'm blanking) was amazing. Even in other cities I visited (mainly Dubrovnik and Split), the standard for appearance was surprising given my expectation of a country recovering from a devastating war. Not speaking a word of Croatian and not knowing squat about its history was definitely a drawback. I do look forward to returning.

 

As the French may deny a cup of coffee before a meal, the Italians will force you to eat three large portions with every meal. I ate at a small restaurant in Milan and ordered linguine with lobster as an appetizer. I was surprised to get a full plate of pasta with half a lobster. I almost had trouble finishing the steak that came after. A few days later, I stopped by the same restaurant for lunch and wanted to order only the linguine. I thought the waitress would strike me down, but I explained that I just wasn't hungry enough for two courses. The dish came out with so much salt on it, I'm sure the chef did it as punishment.

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Americans are not rude. It's a vicious rumour started by the French.

Of course they aren't, but they aren't as terminally apologetic as Canadians and thus it is easy to spot the difference :rolleyes:

Maybe Americans don't have as much to apologize for?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Yes, I'm still joking.)

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I've found, for me, the more homework I do before the trip, time permitting, the more I enjoy my stay. Ideally, I like to at least skim through more than one guidebook to see what they all agree is important, read about the history of the country, try to find a book or article about the culture and read a novel set there. I also plan my days thoroughly, based on the guidebooks, my reading and conversations with people who have been there or live there, with morning, afternoon and evening activities, so I'm never at a loss for what to do on a particular day -- e.g. I know in advance that if I really want to go to a particular museum, I know the days it is closed. Once I'm actually traveling, I feel absolutely no compulsion to follow my "plan," but it does give some shape to my trip. The shorter the trip or the less likely I am to return to a place, the more important the planning is for me.

 

If possible and appropriate, I like to get some tickets in advance, to avoid disappointment and standing in line at Leicester Square, for exaample. I will also make restaurant reservations well in advance if my heart is set on a particular place. I know that all this planning makes me seem rigid and time-bound, but it is actually freeing. All the advance work also has the advantage, for me, of enhancing the anticipation and, in a way, extending the experience of the trip.

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- That in a conversation they will go on and on about what is wrong with the US.

 

- That they have a thing for staring at people who are not dressed like everybody else in the room.

 

Do they also complain about how rude American are?

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