Having travelled extensively throughout Europe and lived in different countries I have learnt lots of travel lessons by now. The most important lesson overall is probably that once you are used to how ‘things are done’ in one country, do not expect the next country to work the same way. Europe is such a culturally diverse continent with different habits, customs, languages, currencies, food.. you get the point. Below are a few of my favourite ‘strange’ things in Europe!

Waiting to be seated… or not!

In Germany it’s perfectly normal to walk into a cafe or restaurant and just take a seat at a table of your choice. If you do that in London the waiter will come running after you and allocate you to a table of HIS or HER choice. If you are unsure what’s normal in the country that you are currently in, just enter the restaurant and give the waiter a moment. If it’s expected for you to wait until you are seated, the waiter will usually already spot you while you are entering and greet you at the door.

Ordering tab water..

Most normal thing in the world in the UK and a no-go in Germany. It is also not that common in lots of other countries in Europe. Easy way to find out though: Either the waiter asked you whether you would like some tab water to start with.. or not. If tab water is not offered to you, it is generally not common to be served.

If Uber is available, take it!

Taxis can be super expensive in Europe, especially in the Nordic countries. So if you can use your Uber app, make use of it. It will save you loads of money!

Pickpocketing!

You might have travelled happily through countless developing countries without having had anything stolen. But then you are in Barcelona, Paris, Rome or London and ta-dah your phone or wallet goes missing! This happened to me: I was writing on my laptop in a pretty cafe in London. I had a great seat next to the window, super yummy cappuccino and the day was perfect. Until these two idiots came in. They walked over to where I was sitting, put a postcard on my table and started smiling at me. I said I don’t want their postcard and they took it away again. So far so good. Just that they had put the stupid postcard on my phone and once they took the card away again, they also took my phone. Awesome.

To wear or not to wear your bikini..

In any other part of Europe you DO WEAR your bikini or bathing clothes when you go to the sauna or steam room. But don’t, DON’T do that in Germany or Austria. Ever.

The other guests will likely not look at you when you are naked but will 100% look at you (and they will not give you the nice looks!) if you enter the sauna wearing anything else except a towel. Also don’t walk into the sauna naked and without any towel. Another no-go. Your skin is not supposed to touch anything, so don’t sit down there on your naked butt, even if you’ve seen some sauna videos on somewhere like TubeV where they do. Safe way to know whether to go nude or not: If they speak German, take the clothes off :)

So if you are skiing in Austria or German-speaking Switzerland, feel like relaxing in the sauna, and don’t want to show the pure and natural you, do it my way: I usually have three towels with me. Two for covering the seat and one as my bikini substitute that I will NOT remove!

Efficiency..

Europe is home to various hard-working countries where everything goes by the rule yet also home to countries where rules can be bend and not everyone takes pride in whatever sort of efficiency. Efficiency in Europe often goes hand in hand with the weather: The warmer the country is, the less likely things are getting done quickly. So just be aware that a few things, may it ordering in a cafe or essentially any other daily activities just take a bit longer in Southern Italy, for instance, than in Germany or England.

Ze Rules..

Whilst things in Germany might be more efficient and reliable, ze Germans tend to take things sometimes way too seriously. In Germany it’s quite natural to follow the rules without questioning them and this is also expected from people travelling in the country. So don’t take anything personal… you might get a mean look from someone in Germany but get a friendly face in Spain, Italy or Greece for the same thing. It’s just the beauty of different cultures :)

Happy faces and friendly people

Whether you find someone friendly or rude is entirely up to what you are used to. When I came (from Germany) to England I was amazed to see so many friendly people and almost started to think that the Germans were a bit rude. Then I spoke with an Australian friend of mine who thought the English were rather rude when she arrived. Now, who is right?

In the end I believe that there is not necessary one country with nicer people than another. Whilst come cultures are just less reserved and more welcoming and friendly, other countries have a reputation for opening up not that easily. In the end it all comes down to the individual. If you are putting in effort to get to know some locals, they will welcome you with open arms, no matter in which country you are. It just sometimes takes a bit longer in one country than in another. In the end everyone has a good heart somewhere, right?

Happy Animals

Personal space..

Personal space is another aspect I found highly correlated to the weather of a country. The normal distance between two random people speaking with each other in a Southern European country almost equals the distance that only close friends in a Nordic country would choose. So don’t scare away if a Spanish person you have never met before comes close to tell you a story. They are not trying to make out with you (normally at least..). It’s just their comfy personal space. Same thing holds for travelling in the Nordic countries. Just because someone doesn’t come that close to you doesn’t mean you are a weirdo and nobody likes you :)

And last but not least..

Europe has it all: nature, animals, amazing beaches and cultural heritage

If you think of Europe of just capital hopping, you couldn’t be more wrong. Don’t forget that we have incredibly beautiful beaches, e.g. in Greece and Croatia, stunning mountains, e.g. in Austria, Switzerland or Italy, millions of sheep and happy animals in Scotland and incredibly beautiful architecture often dating back hundreds of years in pretty much all places in Europe.

Edinburgh

 

Can you relate? What are your stories when travelling through Europe? To read more about the places I have been to in Europe, click here.

 

 

This post is in collaboration with GoEuro. To read more travel lessons for Europe, head over to their website and check out other posts in their #travellessons campaign.

To Go Nude Or Not to Go Nude - Some Travel Lessons

Apart from beautiful beaches and cultural heritage, Thailand is also popular for its amazing food. So make sure you try out different Thai dishes during your Phuket holiday. A way to experience authentic local food is to visit one of the island’s street food markets (e.g. the Naka street food market). These markets offer all sorts of Thai food from fresh seafood to super yummy sweets.
I guess you know the drill of how to avoid the traveler’s tummy like no ice cubes, no salads, peeling all fruits… and all the other ways to prevent stomach bugs. But once you are at least a bit adjusted to the local ‘bacteria’ go ahead and try all sorts of things at the food market. It’s worth it as it is really super yummy! I generally drink lots of Coca Cola when I am travelling in developing countries and brush my teeth with bottled water rather than tab water. That generally allows me to eat a bit more of the street food without having stomach issues. The Coca Cola might be placebo though but it seems to help :

Read about more things to do in Phuket like snorkeling and scuba diving here and here.

Brac is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea which can easily be reached by ferry from Split. The island is popular for its beach Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape) and its windsurfing conditions. Brac is home to traditional architecture and cosy little villages. It’s the perfect Croatian island for travelers searching for beautiful and quiet days. These are my top 3 reasons why you should visit Brac.

Three Reasons Why You Should Visit Brac

1 The Beaches

The number one reason why Brac is a popular travel destination is the beauty of its beaches. The most famous one is Zlatni Rat Beach near Bol which has a very long stretch that is especially popular with windsurfers. But don’t only stick to this one. There are pretty beach spots nearly everywhere on the island. Just take a bus or taxi and start exploring. There are lots of hidden gems that are located in remote and quiet areas. Best to ask some locals for their advice. We ended up at a beautiful beach that also offered scuba diving classes. The beach was so beautiful with almost no tourists :)

2 Quiet Island Life

Brac is not known for having lots of celebrities strolling through the villages nor are there big yachts at Brac’s harbours. If you want this, just hop over to Hvar. Instead Brac allows for a peek into a rather authentic and most of all quiet Croatian island life. To have the full experience, don’t just stay on Brac’s beautiful beaches but venture out to explore the rest of the island with its little villages and incredibly friendly people.

3 Lovely Coastal Villages

For travelling back in time to a more quiet life, just visit one of Brac’s idyllic coastal villages. The village and harbour of Splitska make the perfect getaway if you are seeking some relaxed time away from today’s hectic lifestyle. There are a number of private rooms and apartments to rent. Milna is another beautiful spot with lots of fishermen’s houses where time has stood still.

 

And apart from my top three reasons why you should visit Brac, here are some more suggestions of things to do in Brac: Raft on the river Cetina, explore the beautiful bays around Brac by a skippered boat, visit the Korcula Island with its beautiful old town, go fishing, visit a winery, go scuba diving, hike for beautiful views of the island, learn kite boarding or windsurfing. And of course, eat your way through all the lovely restaurants in the villages :)

How to get to Brac?

Just fly to Split and take the ferry or catamaran over to Supestar, the capital city of Brac. There are several ferries per day (14 in summer & 9 during off-season) and the journey takes around one hour. There are also ferries that transport cars if you are on a road trip. There are so many beautiful islands in Croatia and so much to see! To plan your full Croatia road trip, get the latest Lonely Planet on Amazon here.