17 Things nobody tells you about travelling to Europe, don’t worry they’re all good!

Having spent a term on exchange in France and then backpacked in Switzerland, I have put down some fun observations that you might want to know before your first trip to Europe. I will elaborate on some of the point in my next posts. Enjoy!

  1. Cafes- There are almost in every street cafes in blacks, browns and European shades. Europeans love to sit outside in the sun while looking in the street and enjoying a leisurely meal
  2. Long lunches- This is something I have observed in France. A leisurely lunch of 1 to 2 hour is the norm. In La Rochelle, some grocery stores are shut for 2 hours in lunch time. Remember when you had to have your lunch at your desk because you had to rush to a meeting? Not the way of life in France
  3. Not everyone is comfortable speaking in English- If you thought Europe would have the influence of Britain and most people would be comfortable speaking in English, it will blow your mind that not only is English uncommon but each country has its own different language! It is only in the bigger cities that you find people who can converse in broken English but in smaller towns you will have to rely on sign language for directions. It will be wise to download Google translate on your phone beforehand
  4. WiFi in Cafes and train stations- While mobile data is a common thing in Indian cities, it is very expensive in Europe. But you will find many cafes, Starbucks and McDonalds around which will offer free WiFi. Even some train stations such as Basel and Trains such as Inter City Express have free WiFi
  5. Trains preferred mode of transport– Despite having low cost airlines like EasyJet and Ryan Air, you will find that majority of the population prefers to travel by trains. What is surprising is trains are actually more expensive as compared to flights. The good news is you can get Eurail Passes using which you can hop on and hop out of almost all trains
  6. Public transport- It is not surprising that people prefer to travel by trains as cities and countries are very well connected by public transport. There are regular long distance trains, buses and intra-city trams, very rarely you will find yourself worrying about how to get somewhere
  7. Contrails in the sky- Coming from India, this was an unusual thing to me. The sky conditions in Europe help in the phenomenon of contrails. When you look up at the sky, you will see a beautiful crisscross of trails of clouds left behind by airplanes. Don’t forget to observe this whle you are there
  8. Importance of weather- You will be surprised to find how updated everyone here is with the predicted weather for the day. Everyone has a weather app and knows if it is going to rain or snow or be sunny that day. Also, they will be appropriately dressed for the weather so it is important you are updated with that too
  9. Supermarkets- There is generally a chain of supermarket that dominates a region for instance, COOP in Switzerland or Lidl in France. You will find these in almost every one kilometer in big cities. These have very good deals and a great range of products. Tip- you must ty the packed milk bread! Novelty!
  10. Crossing the road- Europeans are generally very kind on pedestrians. Cars will stop if they see someone trying to cross the road and driver will give you a gentle nod asking you to go first. On busy streets there is a signal for pedestrians and a bell you must press when you reach the crossing so that the system knows someone is waiting and will turn green for pedestrians
  11. Right hand drive- Unusual for Indians but not a biggie for most of the world
  12. Weekends- While you might be very excited and have your party clothes ready for weekend unfortunately, most towns in Switzerland are empty and shops shut on Sundays. People travel to visit their hometowns or for leisure on the weekends
  13. No jet sprays in toilets- Every Indian needs to know this, there are no jet sprays in the toilets to wash up after you are done, only tissue papers. Get ready to adapt to this!
  14. Pub crawls and Walking tours- There are walking tours organized in almost every city in this tourist friendly continent. These tours are a great way to know the history and popular tourist spots in a city. Most of these are free and one can pay tips later. You must carry comfortable shoes as you will find yourself walking above 5 kms daily! There are also paid pub crawls in more happening cities like Prague and Ljubljana
  15. One plate per person- A typical restaurant scene in India is a table of four, couple of curries passing around and a common bread basket. That is not what it looks like in Europe. Everyone is expected to order one plate for himself and rarely there is any sharing of plates. If two people order one dish, the waiter is probably going to give you confused stares
  16. Fountains to drink water- Europe loves its people and how! There are fountains with drinking water in short distances where you can fill your bottles. Also, water from taps is drinkable in most countries here
  17. Tiny dogs- Almost everyone has a pet dog. And a lot of them in friendly small size. These might divert your attention from the monuments, watch out for these adorable thieves!

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