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146 replies
segacs
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And bumping it up yet again… things move quickly this time of year.

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I disagree about the Europe statement…

Europe has many countries, but many of them aren’t really that different from each other. I am actually surprised more and more about how much everything is more or less the same in two different countries, and how similar lifestytles, grocery stores, and mentalities are of people from different countries are. Especially with young people!

I wonder if things will become even more "the same" in the future.

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quote:
I disagree about the Europe statement…

Europe has many countries, but many of them aren’t really that different from each other. I am actually surprised more and more about how much everything is more or less the same in two different countries, and how similar lifestytles, grocery stores, and mentalities are of people from different countries are. Especially with young people!

I wonder if things will become even more "the same" in the future.

On the surface some things may seem the same. However in daily life even the Netherlands and Belgium are really different from each other. It is a great nuisance to me and many people I know when people say "well in Europe they…" (don’t give you ice in your drink/don’t cool beer/feed their cats and dogs scraps/eat a warm meal in the middle of the day/have a 3-hour break in the middle of the day etc etc)

All generalisations. Because it may go for one country doesn’t mean it’ll go for all of them.

I certainly wouldn’t tell a Franceman that France is just the same as the Netherlands, or Britain, to you. People will probably be offended. Many people pride themselves on their national identity even if they say they don’t – telling them you basically don’t see a difference is kind of… ignorant. And rude.

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Well, I have worked with people from different countries, and I find the opposite is true. i find that at first I tend to make generalizations, like "oh the Spanish mentality… and the Dutch mentality…" and so on, but these are all only superficial differences. Under the surface people lead more or less the same kind of lifestyle in all these industrialized nations.

National identities are artifical constructions to begin with, but people tend to exaggerate these identities and differences, especially when around other groups of people. Maybe 100 years ago groups of these people were radically different, but IMO, not really anymore.

Everyone knows what McDonald’s is and most people of a certain age group from these countries drink capirinhas or have seen the Buena Vista Social Club and listen to the same techno music.

Dark Angel
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My textbooks on intercultural management call this "assumption of universality"

That your generatisations did not turn out to be true does not mean that cultures do not or cannot differ.

I think you will find that underneath the surface the values often differ a lot. To an outsider the difference may not contrast as clear as for instance between America and Japan, but it’s still there, and still a good thing to acknowledge when travelling.

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When taking the train (when you don’t have a pass) in Italy, go to the little yellowish-orange machine and validate your ticket. Yeah, I know, plenty of y’all haven’t, maybe you’ve never seen the machine. But look for it, there’s a bit of a fine if you get caught. We saw an elderly Italian couple who didn’t validate, they were really upset.
I like Kahunna’s idea about getting haircuts in different countries.

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1)Go to Smaller towns
2)Do as the locals do, not as the tourists
3)Make sure you dont get gassed on a train
4)CD player is good
5)Camping is better than Hostles
6)Try to learn a bit of the Language
7)If you where a backpackers backpack , you may be shot (depending on where you go)
8)Dont run you’ll slip!
9)Carry a penny in your shoe
10)If your an American , wear a t-shirt that says "dont mess with texas" or "Support our troops" or "God bless america"
11)If your going for a long walk I would consider soaking your socks in hot water before going.
12)Hitchhicking is Easy in Ireland

clunker
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quote:5)Camping is better than Hostles

Always? Doubt it.
quote:7)If you where a backpackers backpack , you may be shot (depending on where you go)

Bullshit.
quote:9)Carry a penny in your shoe

What for?
quote:10)If your an American , wear a t-shirt that says "dont mess with texas" or "Support our troops" or "God bless america"

That, or a huge maple leaf and say "eh" a lot.
quote:11)If your going for a long walk I would consider soaking your socks in hot water before going.

That’s retarded.

canuckccp
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Carry a penny in your shoe to keep the spirits away.
Whats wrong with camping instead of Hostles, saves money.
I know alot of canadian backpackers that have a Canadian Flag on there Backpack, The idea to soak your socks in Hot water before you walk anywhere is to break in your shoes.

canuckccp
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Oh and if you where a backpack or anything valuble in a place like Tanzania or Whatever you could easily be robbed or taken to gun point.

clunker
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quote:Whats wrong with camping instead of Hostles, saves money.

Nothing is wrong with camping, but cheaper does not always mean better.
quote:I know alot of canadian backpackers that have a Canadian Flag on there Backpack

No way, you’re lying!
quote:The idea to soak your socks in Hot water before you walk anywhere is to break in your shoes.

Now that’s better. Your original post just suggested soaking your socks in hot water before a long walk. You didn’t mention anything about doing it to break in shoes/boots.

clunker
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quote: Oh and if you where a backpack or anything valuble in a place like Tanzania or Whatever you could easily be robbed or taken to gun point.

Where exactly is Gun Point? Does it have a nice view? Is it a big make-out spot or something? I guess it doesn’t matter, it’s better than being robbed, especially since they do it for free and all just because you have a back pack.

canuckccp
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Im just trying to say , that you should not carry any valubles with you because if you look like you have something on you, You may be robbed of everything with a GUN!

clunker
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Relax, I’m only messing.
Couldn’t resist with the way you worded it.

canuckccp
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On this site you make one mistake and you wont hear the end of it.

Dark Angel
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Actually in Europe you’re far more likely to be robbed with a knife…

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Most rob you without a weapon at all. I never wore a money belt and was never stolen from. If I had a daypack I was also aware of who was standing behind me..and many times I locked my daypack in a locker at the hostel. I just walked around w/ some money, a preferred credit card, and a camera(no cam at night when I went to bars/clubs). All in my pockets. It was easy. I just kept my hands in my pockets standing on the metro..or in crowds.

Most here recommend the belt. I had one, hated it..and did what I describe above. Not a thing stolen.

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quote:
Oh and if you where a backpack or anything valuble in a place like Tanzania or Whatever you could easily be robbed or taken to gun point.

I’m just wondering when Tanzania became part of Europe.

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This is clearly a joke, but okay, I’ll bite… just in case anyone checked their sense of humour at the door.

quote:1)Go to Smaller towns

Better advice would be not to forget about small towns. Big cities have more to do, more people, often more sites and nightlife as well. Small towns can be relaxing, charming or interesting, but some people prefer the pace of big cities. There’s nothing wrong with a mix of both, but a lot of people come onto this site saying they want to see &quotaris, then Barcelona" for example, without thinking that they could easily spend a week or two seeing lots of interesting small towns en route.

quote:2)Do as the locals do, not as the tourists

If you mean trying local food, partaking in local customs and looking for what’s different about a place instead of what’s like home, then I agree. If you mean actually doing as the locals do… why would you want to do that? Locals usually get up, go to work, go about their daily lives, and daydream about travel and having fun – just like you probably do at home. You’re a tourist. Live it up. The locals wish they were you.

quote:3)Make sure you dont get gassed on a train

Sigh… for anyone who hasn’t got it yet, this is an urban myth.

quote:4)CD player is good

Ipod is better. Smaller, more music, less moving parts. Can also be used to store digital photos.

quote:5)Camping is better than Hostles

Camping can be fun, but there are drawbacks. Campsites are usually outside the cities you’re visiting. Sure you’ll save money on lodging sometimes but you’ll spend it all on transportation to get into and out of the cities. Most public transit stops running at a certain hour and you’re stuck taking taxis back to your campsite if you want to experience the nightlife. And though many campsites are social, with bars and restaurants, you’ll probably meet more other backpackers in hostels.

quote:6)Try to learn a bit of the Language

Yep, at least the polite words like hello, please, thank you, where, how much, etc. People appreciate the little bit of effort.

quote:7)If you where a backpackers backpack , you may be shot (depending on where you go)

Haha.

quote:8)Dont run you’ll slip!

Haha.

quote:9)Carry a penny in your shoe

Haha.

quote:10)If your an American , wear a t-shirt that says "dont mess with texas" or "Support our troops" or "God bless america"

Then walk around punching anyone in the face who insults America. See how long you last.

quote:11)If your going for a long walk I would consider soaking your socks in hot water before going.

And of course, add some big rocks into your shoes just so it’s even more uncomfortable.

quote:12)Hitchhicking is Easy in Ireland

Just don’t accept rides from ‘dem leprichauns.

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quote:
I’m just wondering when Tanzania became part of Europe.

Didn’t ya know? It’s right next to that other European country: China Smile

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AH!, Sombody who has finds this funny
Thankyou segacs, Serious bastards on this site " oh, that was very offending" and "I cant find the humor in that" or " Since when is Tanzania a Country in Europe?" That is not funny because we all know that it isnt. Everyone is the same , they just get PLEASURE from correcting peoples mistakes , because it makes them look WISE or whatever they’re looking for.

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quote: That is not funny because we all know that it isnt.

You forgot to put an apostrophe in the word "isnt".

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The period comes before the apostrophe as in "isn’t."

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Bump

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69 posts!

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LANGUAGE BARRIERS

Speaking English with a comic accent does not work, this is Europe not Monty Python.

Sign language and drawings help, shouting slower and louder in English (or any language) does not!

Franaglaise (mixture between French and English)is the most useful language ever. Also I once had a great ‘sudo Italian’ conversation with a friend by using our combined knowledge of Latin and French.

When your away buy books (mail them home to save space). Even if you cant read them (I have a Hebrew Bible) they’ll be fantastic to look at once you’re home. Also people will see them on your book shelf and think you’re really smart.

Locals will not laugh at your pitiful French skills, they will be flattered that you respect them enough to try and they will help you.

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just adding to the list..

- Buy a local newspaper and read it, it’s a fun way of getting to know the place, and the entertainment sections are useful if you’re looking for something special to do that day. Most countries in europe, asia etc have an english-lang daily or weekly.

- i’ve always found hiding $ in my shoe helpful. just make sure it’s a comfortable fit.

- ATMs usually charge a fee or a small percentage of the total amount you withdraw, whichever is higher. so work out the best sum to draw each time if you really want to economise.

- ladies, i think carrying a shoulder purse (whatever you usually carry at home) is better than a day pack, so long as it holds your camera and wallet. mine packs small, and it’s way chicer than a backpack. plus you won’t immediately stand out as a tourist, esp in cities. (just leave the designer labels at home)

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quote:
The period comes before the apostrophe as in "isn’t."

Actually, this rule would only be true if he had been quoting a sentence. Since he was only quoting one word, it wouldn’t make sense to include a period within the quotation marks. If you’re going to try to make someone feel stupid by correcting little details, at least make sure you’re correct!

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There are certain common characteristics that all or most European societies share. Aside from civilizational, liguistic, and religious commonalities, the countries of Europe have interacted with each other for centuries. Certain trends in music, art, and architecture have swept all or most of the continent over the centuries. This interaction only accelrated in the 20th and 21st centuries, thus today’s generation have fewer national differences between them than their ancestors.

That said, cultural practices (including elements in daily interaction that people take for granted) remain distinct between countries, and sometimes between regions on certain things. I don’t think many people generalize about Europe; quite the opposite, I think North Americans tend to exaggerate the differences between the "Europes" (north vs south, east vs west). The reason I’m saying this is because North Americans expect Southern Europe to be this "exotic" "bizarre" and sometimes backwards place, and they feel/expect a closer similarity with northern Europeans…I wonder how many of these Americans and Canadians are smacked with disillusioning culture shock in, say, Denmark. The southern countries definitely have a flare (that’s why I love them) including but not limited to some culinary, architectural, and musical influences from the Middle East or North Africa (esp Spain, Greece, and Portugal), and the daily lifestyle is different from the north (wine, siestas, and outdoor dining not beer and polka) but the fundamental differences with Northern Europe are actually very small. Italy, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Monaco, and Andorra are all classified as rich countries by international organizations (UN, OECD, etc) but will forever have that &quotoor" stereotype (except France), depite the fact that today they all have a per capita GDP/PPP of above $20,000 (Italy and France are well above this), compared to Sweden’s $28,000…the economical/standard of living gap between north and south has practically closed.

No, you can’t say "all Europeans do this" or "Europeans do that," and yes, culture shock occurs (every year in the southern countries, for example, between the locals and the northern European tourists…and increasingly eastern European tourists.) But again, A Swede would find obviously a much bigger difference in, say, Tunisia, Peru, Thailand, than in Italy or Spain.


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat

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Remember, culture shock has less to do with the place you visit, and more to do with your own experiences before visiting there.

To an American who’s never been out of state, London could be a massiev culture shock. To someone who’s done a lot of travelling, even the most remote destinations could have very little culture shock. It depends.

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Just sending it back up…

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Oh rats! You got me there, bensonm28!

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quote: Electricity is "different" in Europe. If you have to plug it in, follow these options, in THIS order:
learn to live without it
buy dual voltage (or in the case of your digital camera charger, lap top or IPOD check to see if it accepts 220 volts as an "input.&quotWink and take adapter plugs (1 for UK and 1 for the rest of Europe)
buy it after you get there
buy a converter and appropriate adapter plugs

No!!! DO not do that! DO NOT COME TO EUROPE AND TRY TO FIND A CONVERTER HERE!!! do not give me another of thse nightmares!

I can guarantee for personal experiece I had while escorting groups of friends around the continent that this is the best way to loose a good day or longer trying to find that damn converter!
It is all quit logical really. Why in France (let’s say) they should sell a converter for a North American plug? While there are the UK standard and many others? Yes, there are some converters that are very handful devices and take in any plug to any other standard.. but believe me, these are not often found. Therefore your needed converter will only be found at the 10th or so tentative… a dusty residuate of the back of the shop. When you can actually find one!

And in most cases yours will become a really tiring day of fishing into uninteresting parts of town (yep, not many electricians in the downtown Amsterdam)to find a truly overprices (only tourists buy them.. so they are way overcharged) adapter for your camera battery charger in order to continue visiting the city and take pictures!
Just save yourself the hassle and buy it online at home or at your local store. I bet it will be cheaper and a lot less tiring and time consuming than doing that here!
Just check online what the specifics are of the countries you will be visiting and keep in mind you may have to end up without your camera charger for a few days (in my house alone, i have got at least three different style of central european plugs…).

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quote:
quote: Electricity is "different" in Europe. If you have to plug it in, follow these options, in THIS order:
learn to live without it
buy dual voltage (or in the case of your digital camera charger, lap top or IPOD check to see if it accepts 220 volts as an "input.&quotWink and take adapter plugs (1 for UK and 1 for the rest of Europe)
buy it after you get there
buy a converter and appropriate adapter plugs

No!!! DO not do that! DO NOT COME TO EUROPE AND TRY TO FIND A CONVERTER HERE!!! do not give me another of thse nightmares!

I can guarantee for personal experiece I had while escorting groups of friends around the continent that this is the best way to loose a good day or longer trying to find that damn converter!
It is all quit logical really. Why in France (let’s say) they should sell a converter for a North American plug? While there are the UK standard and many others? Yes, there are some converters that are very handful devices and take in any plug to any other standard.. but believe me, these are not often found. Therefore your needed converter will only be found at the 10th or so tentative… a dusty residuate of the back of the shop. When you can actually find one!

This is great advice! It goes the other way around, as well. I used to work in a large electronics store here in the US. Many foreigners came in looking for a converter for their device they bought at home… and left the store empty handed. The best place to look for a converter to use overseas is at your local electronic shop IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY!

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bump !

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A headlamp for reading at night when folks need the lights off is an essential.

Earplugs are great for getting shut eye but bad for hearing alarms!

Think of everyone not as strangers but friends you havent made yet.

A basic grasp of the language is invaluable and also endearing to the locals.

See things in the dark all lit up they change dramatically at night. Eg Cathedrals, Plazas, Fountains etc.

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quote:

Think of everyone not as strangers but friends you havent made yet.

A basic grasp of the language is invaluable and also endearing to the locals.

Blair
I like all of your suggestions, but these two are really good, and they complement each other.

Faux pas, many misunderstandings (and perhaps a few rip-offs) can be prevented when someone does a bit of trip preparation by reading up on commonly used words, customs, and just any social practices which might be new and different.

It’s like what Segacs says in #20 in the beginning of this thread: "It’s not wrong, it’s just different."

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Bump.

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1) You will not find a hotel/hostel in Pamplona during San Fermin so expect to either get mugged sleeping in a park or you can stay up all night and keep partying. Sadly I chose the first one.

2)Don’t expect the McDonalds Menu to be the same everywhere. However I must say, I did enjoy the Greek Mac.

3)Eating Kebab/Donair/Schwarma can sustain you for days. They are everywhere in Europe and also quite cheap for a quick bite.

4)Do not ever compare Croats, Serbs and Muslims with each other in the Balkans.

5)Try to learn the basics of languages. Also, almost every language has cognates from English. So just because it is foreign, you can stil read and understand a few words. If you know Spanish you will be fine in Italy.

6)Watch out for Sea Urchins in the Adriatic, especially Corfu. The needles can become infected. So bring tweezers with you.

7)Expect to pay a lot more to get into a club compared to North America.

8)Buy a Lets Go or Lonely Planet book. It will be your bible!

9)Pretend you dont speak English when your walking down the Red Light District in A-DAM. This will save the hassle of having to deal with all the drug dealers whispering "Ecstacy ecstacy" "Cocaine, Cocaine"

10)Corfu is a great vacation from Backpacking. Pink Palace Rocks!

11)Customer service does not yet exist in many places in Prague.

12)No, the PA voice talking at the Budapest Main Train Station does not stop. Ever. Even at 4 AM. So bring some headphones! It drove me crazy. Trains are never on time in Eastern Europe.

12A)Speaking of Budapest. Be very careful at the train station as there a lot of shady people hanging around there. For example, I was drinking a bottle of wine and this homeless guy wanted some and I told him to go away. I finished the bottle. He picked it up and threw it at my face. He missed though, thank God.

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Found most of the hints really helpful so thought i would add a couple of my own.
Sorry if i am repeating ppl

Buy a peg free clothes line to take with you. I’m not sure about hostels but wherever i have stayed i have been able to hang it up. A small cake of soap & a sink works for washing t-shirts, underwear.

Talk to the locals. I have stayed with families in a number of European countries and this has been a highlight. If you make the effort to talk to them they will be nice to you. And dont be afraid to ask for help. Learn how to say Do you speak English in their language and be polite.

I am leaving from Sydney and traveling for 24 days
Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Munich, Salzburg, Vienna
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Itinerary, Nightlife, Food, Sights
mb
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Bump

Eat the food, use the wrong verbs, and end up getting charged double.

luv_the_beach
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BUMP


beach-lunch-siesta-beach-shower-dinner-nightlife-repeat

Primal
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Check Rei´s webpage for Travel Expert Advice. It will show you how to choose practically anything you need for the trip.
http://www.rei.com/o…

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Also, go to www.raileurope.com and print out the maps of the places you want to visit. You will see that in a list they look good, however once you see in the map their distance, you may want to back of on the 20 cities – 20 days itineraries !!!