A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Europe is different from North America. Here are a few things you need to remember.
Waiter (server in North America) is a respected profession in Europe. It’s not just a stopover for university students and wannabe actors. These people know what they’re doing. Take advantage of it.
Criminal is also a profession (although not actually respected.) There are people who get up every morning and head to the tourist attractions with the sole purpose of robbing you – or somebody else. There’s no need to be paranoid, but you need to practice a little due diligence to make sure it’s somebody else.
There are two seasons in Europe. Tourist season, when hordes of foreigners descend on the continent like an army of battle-hardened Assyrians — crowding the streets, cluttering up the restaurants and driving up the prices. And Season #2 – October 22nd.
I hate to say it, but the days of the super bargains in Europe are over. Armani suits are Armani suits all over the world, and you’re not going to get a discount just because they’re making them down the street. Go for the small shops rather than the big labels.
Public transportation is the way to go. In North America, we get in our cars; in Europe, people get on the bus, tram or subway. Taxis are fine, once in a while (like from the airport) but if you want to see the real Europe, get on the bus.
European time is not North American time — adapt.
The reason you crossed the big pond in the first place is you wanted to try something completely different. Most times it’s fun but sometimes it’s a pain in the ass. The truth is, on any vacation something is going to suck (it always does) but when that happens the best thing to do is don’t sweat the details – and keep on moving.