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  • Writer's pictureJessica Nacovsky

27: Culture Shocks While Traveling

View from the Vatican
View from that Vatican, unfortunately taken with old phone camera

Howdy! Honestly, I’ve been around a decent chunk of the states and Europe. With the exception of my long rant (see Post 19) regarding the lack of good public transport in Austin Texas, I haven’t had too many culture shocks. However, here are some in Budapest Hungary, Barcelona Spain, Rome Italy, Paris France, and Vienna Austria:

No Ice in Budapest, Barcelona, and Rome: One difference that surprised me in Europe was that I couldn't find ice. Budapest, Barcelona, and Rome don't sell bags of ice in most convenience nor grocery stores. I couldn't find an ice tray for sale anywhere. Most of the non-alcoholic drinks I ordered did not come with ice. I tried getting a fruit smoothie. It was not blended with ice at all. I then ordered a milkshake. That too was not blended with ice. You ever drink warmish melted ice cream? That was the milkshake I received in Barcelona. Closer to lassi than a real milk shake. Freak shake places, following the trend of decorating the shake with cake/sprinkles/cookies/etc, probably more accustomed to American palettes, did have nice cold, likely blended with ice, shakes. Paris sells ice and ice cube trays.

No Free Refills in Budapest, Barcelona, and Rome: Non alcoholic free refills are not a thing in much of Europe. I adjusted immediately, and being on a tight budget, stuck to water when eating out. In Spain, I had to request free tap water or I’d be given a glass bottle of cooled water that still wouldn’t be refilled, and wasn’t free. Restaurants in Rome are reluctant to provide tap water, citing safety.

Budapest doesn’t offer free water in restaurants but there are fountains around the city for refilling water bottles. Paris, the tourism capital of the world, does include free water and free bread with most meals.

Asian Food menus were ripped off the web in Barcelona: I noticed that many small Asian food restaurants didn’t have menus personalized. Instead, they stuffed cheaply printed menus behind a print out of their logo, location, and number, and crossed out what meals they didn’t serve, jotting down prices in pen for the options they had. The pictures never looked like the food, which was fine. Some non-Asian restaurants did this too (like one place that sold breakfast hamburgers which were super tiny hamburger patties with no bun…?) but the majority of restaurants were Asian.

Budapest puts corn on their pizza.

Barcelona puts mayonnaise on their hamburgers.

Gotta tell the server you wanna go, in Barcelona: In the USA, flagging down waitstaff is usually rude. Not in Barcelona. Once the food is on the table, they assume patrons are there to stay and hang out. They let us sit there for over an hour after our meals if we didn’t let them know we wanted the check. I don’t know the upper limit for how long they’d have let us wait, because I eventually braved (what I’ve always perceived as rudeness) and flagged them down.

Rome doesn't have/use crosswalks: Pedestrians decide to cross and the cars just stop.

Unexpected Graffiti: Saint Peter's Basilica, in the Vatican, offers a fantastic view of Rome. It’s also covered in graffiti. The Colosseum in Rome is surrounded by litter and homeless people, as in, they appear to take shelter in its outer wall, which reeks of pee. Meanwhile, Vienna Austria had nearly no graffiti. Cleanest city I’ve ever seen. Wild!

Thanks for stopping by! I put out a new blog post every Monday. Toodles!

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