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122 replies
RossA
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quote:
And as for the French go…I’ve had enough French bashing. The next time some one says something about the French being mean, or snobish, or rude, I want some concrete examples. The French are no different than the majority of other nationalities. This is just an outdated stereotype that people continue to feed into and off of. What do you expect them to do, walk around with a big smile on their face and give you a hug? People have one rude waiter and suddenly the entire county is fulls of snobs. Come on!

Here’s an example: Wait 20 minutes at a table outside. Waitress never shows up. Go inside thinking we should order at the counter, and when we go inside the waitress says: "I only have 2 arms and 2 legs" Nice.
Oh, and I love how people just bump you without the slightest hesitation and then say nothing.
Needless to say, Paris is not at the top of my list and mostly because of the people. Also, someone mentioned it was a clean city. I was there a month ago, and it definitely wasn’t clean.

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Naples was my least favourite city. The car horns start going in the early morning and don’t stop until late night. The only good thing I can say about Naples is they make the best pizza I’ve had anywhere else (and that includes other parts of Italy)

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quote:
Here’s an example: Wait 20 minutes at a table outside. Waitress never shows up. Go inside thinking we should order at the counter, and when we go inside the waitress says: "I only have 2 arms and 2 legs" Nice.
Oh, and I love how people just bump you without the slightest hesitation and then say nothing.
Needless to say, Paris is not at the top of my list and mostly because of the people. Also, someone mentioned it was a clean city. I was there a month ago, and it definitely wasn’t clean.

Or how about the train conductor who let us on his Paris-Nice train, after we missed the previous one, and went out of his way to find an empty cabin for us? Or the cafe owner who took my map on rainy Bastille Day and set it next to the oven so it can dry? And those pesky pizza employees in Nice who opened their restuarant a half-hour early because we sat down to eat and didn’t know it wasn’t technically open for business yet? Or the cab drivers with whom I’ve had plenty of conversations. And the friendly, warm waiters/waitresses I‘ve run into.

Have I run into any rude locals? Yeah, once…and he was rude because of a misunderstanding. There have been some negative experieces. My apartment was broken into. These things don’t happen in other parts of the world, right? Certainly not in the USA! [rolling my eyes]. There’s an incredible anti-French bias that’s ingrained in American culture, and some Americans are so drawn into this…they go to France with negative expectations, and a preconceived notion of what the French are like. All it takes is for one waitress who was probably having bad day, and the entire country is judged! Her colleagues probably all called in sick, and she was left alone to wait an entire restaurant. Or maybe, you’re right, maybe she was lazy. Who knows? Does she represent 60 million people?


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Adeelie
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Here’s an example: Wait 20 minutes at a table outside. Waitress never shows up. Go inside thinking we should order at the counter, and when we go inside the waitress says: "I only have 2 arms and 2 legs" Nice.
Oh, and I love how people just bump you without the slightest hesitation and then say nothing.

Well it’s true. We’re so used to waiters being friendly and efficient in the US. It’s not because they’re better people, or even more friendly people, it’s simply because they’re working you for tips. In Europe the tips are already included in the price, therefore, it doesn’t pay to be nice. They just deliver you your food, and move on. Personally, I don’t like to be worked on for anything. Although I don’t enjoy rude people, most waiters just do their job, no frills.


Oh, and I love how people just bump you without the slightest hesitation and then say nothing.

Do you bruise easily or something? Get over it buddy. Streets are crowded, you can’t say sorry excuse me fifty times a day.

wa1ter
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quote:
Well it’s true. We’re so used to waiters being friendly and efficient in the US.

This is actually a great example of cultural differences between Europe and the US.
You say friendly and efficient I think annoying and pushy.

I, and most people I know, go out to dinner because I want to get out of the house.
This means I don’t want somebody staring me out of a restaurant after 45-60 minutes when we just spent (and aren’t done spending yet) 80$ a person. After all, if I want fast food I’ll go to a fast food restaurant

glonchak
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I think some of the US – France tension rests in the fact that France is one of the very few countries that is publicly on par with the US in terms of arrogance and self-righteousness. French pride won’t lay down in front of the supposed American dominance, and this gets under the arrogant American skin. As a result, stereotypes are played up and many Americans go to France expecting the worst, and they’ll use their first bad experience to support their preconceived notions. It’s all pretty ridiculous!!

LBG53
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I’m sorry but I have to also say that I dint really enjoy Paris but it was because when I was walking to my hotel one night i looked up and saw a man pleasuring himself in the window. I did however LOVE the view from the Arc de Triumphe — i know i spelled that wron my French is horrible. I would give Paris I second chance.

I LOVED Barcelona. This was because I loved the Gaudi architecture.

luv_the_beach
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quote:
I’m sorry but I have to also say that I dint really enjoy Paris but it was because when I was walking to my hotel one night i looked up and saw a man pleasuring himself in the window. I did however LOVE the view from the Arc de Triumphe

So…because of one weirdo in a window, you "didn’t really like" the entire city? This overrides that fantastic experience you had at the Arc de Triomphe?

quote:I would give Paris I second chance.

Yes, you should!


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jonniboy
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Adeelie – snap! I feel exactly the same way about Barcelona. It has its merits but I think it is seriously overrated. I’ve been there 4 times and on the fourth occasion I managed to pin down some of the things I didn’t like.

1) The whole crime/lowlife thing on LaRambla is seriously offputting. I’ve never seen so much thieving going on and I’ve been to some rundown parts of central and Eastern Europe. LaRambla is officially the 8th or 9th most dangerous street in the world on surveys that I’ve seen. Getting hassled by pimps, pushers and hookers after a night out is not really my idea of a good time.

2) The city as you say isn’t really Spanish at all, it’s Catalan and so the place seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis.

3) Too many tourists, all year round. I’m not keen on places that are overrun with tourists as it seems to turn the place into a holiday camp as well as all the disadvantages that goes with that (higher prices etc)

Barcelona for me was a serious disappointment but luckily on my first visit there I found Valencia. Typically Spanish, beside the mediterranean, cheap with nice architecture, good nightlife and hardly any tourists.

jonniboy
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A friend of mine like to say derogatively that "the French are just Europes americans arrogant and full of their own importance." I think the reason for the mutual antagonism does rest on the fact that both nations want to be world powers.

I always found the whole thing rather ironic as Spain is a much more anti-american country than France is. (This is not just my anecdotal opinion surveys in the likes of the Economist magazine have come to the same conclusion. I think that the difference between the Spanish and French varieties though is that the spanish are a lot more subtle about it and tend not to say it out loud.

Nonetheless a common experience for me in Spain is for me to be cold shouldered in a bar only for them to become suddenly friendly after they discover that I’m Irish and they then make the apologetic remark of "I thought that you were American." I’m always surprised that so few people seem to appreciate that fact.

luv_the_beach
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quote:
maybe because it’s in Spain, but just doesn’t feel Spanish.

-Adeelie

quote:The city as you say isn’t really Spanish at all, it’s Catalan and so the place seemed to have a bit of an identity crisis.

-jonniboy

Is all of Spain supposed to be identical? Barcelona is as Spanish as Sevilla and Madrid. The Catalans, the Castillians, etc, they all make up Spain. Regional differences are a characteristic of Spain.

quote:I think the reason for the mutual antagonism does rest on the fact that both nations (USA and France) want to be world powers.

Both countries are world powers. US is a superpower, however. IMO, American animosity towards France is much deeper and more complicated. Anti-French bias, and anti-French jokes go back long before the Dubya administration…along with an ironic and bizarre fascination with anything French, or even faux-French things.

The French do not aspire to be a superpower, at least no more the British do. The problem is that the French are more vocal in their disagreements with the US, and challenge the uni-polar world much as the rest of Europe does…only that the rest of Europe is more far more subtle about it. Nonetheless, according to opinion polls, anti-Washington sentiment is higher in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Finland, Greece, and Austria than in France.


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jkfaust
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I’ve got to stick up for the French for a second. I had just too many French go out of their way to help me in my travels. On one such occasion I was hopelessly lost in Grenoble and a bus driver stop his bus, and took the time to get off his bus and take me to the right one. It’s true that they might bump you in the street and not say excuse me, but they just don’t expect it. They’re just more practical when it comes to courtesies than we are and view bumping into each other as a normal course of events. While I am glad I’m American, I’ve got to admit that we are a whiny lot who expect a lot of “social lubricant.”

LBG53
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I’m sorry but I thought that this was someplace you can give an opinion but it seems that anytime someone expresses dislike with something that they get attacked. I said i would give Paris another chance but yet my statement was still dissected and no the reason of the man pleasuring himslef wasnt the only reason i had a bad time in Paris but i had already read earlier that in order to say you didn tlike somethin gyou had to give an example that was my example. Do you need more? I think that everyone needs to relax at let people have different views on cities without dissecting their comments. They are just opinions.

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Please try to distinguish between the French people and the French government. And, for that matter, between individual French people (most of whom were super-nice when I was travelling… yes, even to the Americans).

luv_the_beach
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quote:
I’m sorry but I thought that this was someplace you can give an opinion but it seems that anytime someone expresses dislike with something that they get attacked. I said i would give Paris another chance but yet my statement was still dissected and no the reason of the man pleasuring himslef wasnt the only reason i had a bad time in Paris but i had already read earlier that in order to say you didn tlike somethin gyou had to give an example that was my example. Do you need more? I think that everyone needs to relax at let people have different views on cities without dissecting their comments. They are just opinions.

I think you need to relax, man.


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RossA
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Or how about the train conductor who let us on his Paris-Nice train, after we missed the previous one, and went out of his way to find an empty cabin for us? Or the cafe owner who took my map on rainy Bastille Day and set it next to the oven so it can dry? And those pesky pizza employees in Nice who opened their restuarant a half-hour early because we sat down to eat and didn’t know it wasn’t technically open for business yet? Or the cab drivers with whom I’ve had plenty of conversations. And the friendly, warm waiters/waitresses I‘ve run into.


Luv the beach, I was giving an example since Adeelie was asking for concrete examples:
quote:And as for the French go…I’ve had enough French bashing. The next time some one says something about the French being mean, or snobish, or rude, I want some concrete examples.
No one asked for good experiences… I had some of those too, but the initial impression you get from the French people is not very good. Sorry, but that is what I’ve experienced.
Now, if you enjoy rude people that just dont’ care about a god damn thing…then good for you. You should live in France! It’s just not what others expect.
Oh, and btw if you happen to be a female, that might explain some of your "good" expereiences. I noticed French men to be very "interested" in the opposite sex, and I am sure that in that case they can be very accomodating…

LBG53
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I would relax if everytime I posted something it wasnt attacked. And I’m not a man. thanks. What about the people who dont like Barcelona I dont see anyone attacking their comments and asking for specific examples.

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Folks, this is just a discussion. No one’s "attacking" anyone. I’m stating my experiences and opinions just like you guys are.

quote:
Now, if you enjoy rude people that just dont’ care about a god damn thing…then good for you. You should live in France! It’s just not what others expect.
Oh, and btw if you happen to be a female, that might explain some of your "good" expereiences. I noticed French men to be very "interested" in the opposite sex, and I am sure that in that case they can be very accomodating…

I have lived in France and might be moving back in the near future. I didn’t "enjoy" the rude people, because I didn’t have the chance to meet any of them. I’m sorry if you happened to run into a disproportionate number of France’s rude people during your visit.

P.S., I am a guy and found both sexes to be friendly. The men are no different than men in any other country. We are all the same.

quote:What about the people who dont like Barcelona I dont see anyone attacking their comments and asking for specific examples.

Again, no one is "attacking" anyone. However, there were a number of rebuttal posters saying how much they loved Barcelona and Madrid. I second that, because those cities are among my favorite cities in the world, and Spain is one of my favorite countries. Didn’t run into an pimps on the Ramblas, or anything like that…I did have my apartment broken into in Paris. Sh*t happens.

I guess I have the tendency to respond to people who are disappointed by a place because of an experience, rather than its physical attributes (museums, nighlife, architecture, scenery, etc). I apologize if this has bothered you.

For me, my Paris incident reaffirmed that I was living in a metropolitan area of 10 million people (Europe’s 3rd largest), with social issues just like any other major city in the world….not just an open-air museum. The graffitti, the people going about their daily business (instead of putting on fake smiles like Disneyland characters), and the strikes (in addition to the people who were friendly to me)…all these things gave the city a human feel. If I wanted a polished, Hollywood-ized version of Paris (tailored to cater to American tastes and expectations), I would have gone to Epcot Center. No thanks. Give me my studio apartment again with its tiny kitchen in the heavily residential area near Stade des Princes…my school, my group of friends, and our walks after class in the Jardin de Luxembourg in spring, and the old lady at the entrance that sold the best ice cream in all of Paris. Give me the crowded pubs, the intimidating bouncers, the weirdos in the subway, the cops that give bad directions, the crazy night bus, the gypsies on the Champs Elysées that pretend they’re Bosnian refugees…the friendly neighborhood stores, the countless locals strolling around public squares on gorgeous summer Sundays. The huge wine section in the supermarket, the musicians playing the accordion in the subway trains, the smartly dressed girls (and their sexy voices), the radio stations dedicated to techno music, and the candy machines in all train stations. I miss it. Paris life is city life, and you gotta accept everything a city has to offer. Same goes for Barcelona, Madrid, Athens (other cities that were mentioned).

No hard feelings.


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RossA
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quote:

Give me my studio apartment again with its tiny kitchen in the heavily residential area near Stade des Princes…my school, my group of friends, and our walks after class in the Jardin de Luxembourg in spring, and the old lady at the entrance that sold the best ice cream in all of Paris. Give me the crowded pubs, the intimidating bouncers, the weirdos in the subway, the cops that give bad directions, the crazy night bus, the gypsies on the Champs Elysées that pretend they’re Bosnian refugees…the friendly neighborhood stores, the countless locals strolling around public squares on gorgeous summer Sundays. The huge wine section in the supermarket, the musicians playing the accordion in the subway trains, the smartly dressed girls (and their sexy voices), the radio stations dedicated to techno music, and the candy machines in all train stations. I miss it. Paris life is city life, and you gotta accept everything a city has to offer. Same goes for Barcelona, Madrid, Athens (other cities that were mentioned).

No hard feelings.


I understand where you are coming from. But you have to realize that because of your stay there and maybe because of your stage in life, school, friends, etc… you are somewhat subjective. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just that for some people Paris is definitely not the same Paris as it was for you.
I actually had a conversation with a German guy that told me he missed the times of communist East Germany even though he didn’t care much for communism…and the reason was that he was young, studying, no responsibilities, just hanging out with friends, etc…he just had a sentimental attachment to that particular time in his life…communism or no communism…
Ross

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Luvthebeach you are really making me miss my darling Paris…sigh.. but see? Where you are is what you make of it, you can take pleasure in the simple things (even the guy pleasuring himself,,i think its funny, so what!) or you can blow things out of proportion and be negative about everything. Life is better in any city when you are positive and easygoing…laugh about it.

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disappointing and europe should not be in the same sentence except when seperated by the word not. Smile. Europe is wonderful and i can’t think of any place id rather be right now.

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I have loved my travels, some cities I have enjoyed more than others, but each new city/place/country that I have visted just reaffirms how damn lucky I am and will continue to be to have the luxury to have travelled.

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Kiwigirl,

your most disappointing moment was not getting to go head to head in drinking combat with me

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I reckon mate, couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery if I tried!!! I am going to be around your neck of the world next year, so we will have to let the duel begin.

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In my travels I have found the French both helpful and very rude. You can’t generalize a whole nation. I would say that the French in paris are a lot more snotty and rude then say in Nice or Cannes. Even the french in the south will say that about parisians. I was never dissapointed in Euroope. I do think that people have different expierences in every city they go to. Opinions form from those visits and stories told in hostels. Lots of people love Budapest. I do not, but I never leave it out if im in eastern Europe and i wasnt dissapointed. I try to go back and see what people enjoy about it.

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The french people are great, u just have to realize that customs there are different than at home. When someone accidentaly shoulder bumps you in the street, dont expect them to turn around and say sorry like they would in the states. Thats just the way they are. The only reason the french could really piss you off is if you dont even attempt to ask them a question in french. Hell, even if you slaughter the sentence they will have respect for you because you at least made an effort not to be an arrogant american.

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quote:
When someone accidentaly shoulder bumps you in the street, dont expect them to turn around and say sorry like they would in the states.

Here in Canada, if you bump into someone in the street, they say sorry.

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Obviously, people will tell you different things about the same place – it all depends on personal experience. In my opinion, this experience is shaped by
-luck (weather, accomodations, transport etc)
-expectation (your impressions before you go)
-your attitude (relaxed, uptight, used to certain things, not fussy)
-the city itself
-people you meet, both travelers and natives

So really, this whole thread is completely subjective.

I always found the French polite, definitely polite enough to say ‘pardon’ when they bumped into me…the Italians in Rome however, I can’t say the same of. Nor could I say the same of people in New York City.

Visit somewhere with a relaxed attitude and an open mind and you end up maximizing your chances of avoiding bad experiences.

Segacs, what are you talking about? Only Americans have manners, don’t forget that.

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As a general rule, people in the big cities are never as friendly as their small-town counterparts, no matter which country you are in. You could also make an argument that the bigger the city the more unfriendly the people.

That being said, Hope is one the money about different experiences in the same place.

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Loved Madrid, very cosmopolition, lovely art museums, great shopping, great night life, great public transport, friendly locals.

Munich – also loved it – big city with small town feel.

Most disappointed in Innsbruck. Had much higher expectations for it and couldn’t wait to leave.

re: the french. while I do enjoy france and have met some fantastic french people, I was quite taken aback by encounters with some. The first was when I went to reserve a couchette from Nice to Paris. The man there told me that there were no couchettes available for the night I was interested in, and that all that was available was second class seats. I knew he was flat out lying to me, so I got back in line, (waiting another half hour), went to a different person, and was given a first class couchette on the same train without any difficulties. I have never encountered anything like this anywhere else. the other incident was in a cafe in paris. the cafe was off theourist track, and the language barrier was quite high, but once I was able to communicate to the waitress that I was a vegatarian, she flat out laughed at me, as did the other customers around me. Understandable considering french cuisine, but still rude. Lastly, walking though the Tulieres Gardens near the Louvre, a man came up to me, said hello, put his arm around me, and down the front of my shirt and said to his friends, "check out my new american girlfriend", to which I took his arm off of me, said "no I don’t think so" and just kept walking. One encounters rudeness in every place in the world, but these were easily the rudest people I have meet in my travels. But the actions of those people did not taint my love of the french or France. Nothing beats Paris in the autumn and I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything. The good experiences greatly outnumber the bad, and Paris is still one of my favorite cities!

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I knew Stonehendge would be a big nothing but I went anyway and it was everybit as uninteresting as I expected it to be. Avebury was more interesting.

Hey Sailor, don’t be too hard on Stonehenge, they haven’t got the roof on yet.

IMO France is a beautiful and cultured country, but the locals are sometimes abrupt, ocassionally rude and can be nationalistic… Just like the inhabitants of any other country..

If you have time to spend in France and bother to learn the language, you will be amazed at the kindness and warmth of the French. Give em a chance, they do have great wines, cheeses and trains don’t they?

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I agree with Dangerous Johnny. Pretty much any country will be a wonderful experience if you stay out of the big cities. If you visit the cities, it’s a lottery – could be good, could be bad.

People weren’t meant to live in big cities. It’s unnatural.

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People weren’t meant to live in big cities. It’s unnatural.

Ok, but oddly enough, it’s the people living in the suburbs that have higher levels of stress-related illnesses and ageing.

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in Canada a bump leads to both people saying sorry

I say sorry a lot when i am on vacation……..

I am leaving from Palo Alto with $123 for 22 days
London, Paris, Tours, Caen, La Rochelle, Annecy, Genoa, Venice, Florence, Rome
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A bad rap for Madrid. I love Madrid. The people there get the most out of life. Now Barcelona, in my opinion was over rated.

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quote:
Stockholm: They ‘cut you off’ after two or three beers.

what? were in Stockholm did you have your beer? you must have been soooo drunk (or, maybe more probable, in one of the really posh places where people aren’t supposed to drink beer. you ‘should’ order complex and trendy and even more outrageously expensive cocktails)
Wink
/emma

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I would have to say Kusadasi Turkey. It was dirty, crowded and and boring. I wouldn’t say that it was dissapointing as it was only a stop on our way to Ephesus but it was definitely my least favorite place in Europe. There were street venders and cab drivers chasing you down everywhere you went (the worst I have ever seen!). Being a blond there was also terrible, I know it’s just how they are but I have never felt so violated by somebodies forwardness before. I would definitely never go back. Ephesus on the other hand was beautiful.

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Brussels was booooooooooorrrrrrrrriiiinnnnngggggggg, but I wasn’t dissapointed because everybody agrees on that.

Jester,

Seriously? wow, I completely dissagree!!! I loved Brussels! Brugge too! Why didn’t you like it??

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From reading this entire thread I deduced that all of Europe was a disappointment.

Americans, stay at home and take in such cultural delights like Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Disneyland Florida!

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quote:
For me, it is Amsterdam. Why?

(6) I almost got run over by a bike — again, my fault (no need to tell the story).

grin
That’s because we’re part of a massive social experiment to teach
foreigners not to walk on a bicycle path.

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As for the French, it makes a major difference if you speak french or at least make an effort, say merci and s’il vous plaît – it makes such a difference.

Personally I never had a bad experience, some people were more helpful than others but you really get that everywhere.

And it really all depends on how you feel when you’re there. First time I was in London it was grey and rainy and all we seemed to see were grey housing blocks. Second time I went it was sunny and I was with people who knew where to go and where to eat and had a fabulous time. Ended up living there for a year. And anyone telling me Londoners are rude and unhelpful should have seen me trying to drag my huge wheeled trolley up the stairs in tube stations; every time I came to a stair some stranger would stop, grab the other handle and help it up the stairs, then they’d wave off my thanks and disappear into the crowds again.

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quote:That’s because we’re part of a massive social experiment to teach foreigners not to walk on a bicycle path.

AMS is definitely one of the most amazing places I’ve gotten to visit. I learned rather quickly to jump the F out of the way when hearing bicycle bells. Also, to follow the tram tracks if I get lost. And to avoid the expensive tourist trap that is Damrak st.

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quote: Also, to follow the tram tracks if I get lost. And to avoid the expensive tourist trap that is Damrak st.
Can’t go wrong when you follow the tracks.
Just one thing to remember though . . . is it doesn’t like the touristy part of Amsterdam anymore you’re following the tracks in the wrong direction

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quote:
grin
That’s because we’re part of a massive social experiment to teach
foreigners not to walk on a bicycle path.
Alas, an effort wasted on most it seems

I’m still more impressed by the tourists that manage to actualy get hit by trams though.
I might be able to understand it with some of the new trams, they’re actually relatively quiet, but you can hear those old yellow beasts 6 miles away and still about 6 people a year managed to get hit by them.

New Ams tip for the tourists… when following the tram tracks stay on the pavement (no, don’t walk on the bike path either )

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quote:I’m still more impressed by the tourists that manage to actualy get hit by trams though.
I might be able to understand it with some of the new trams, they’re actually relatively quiet, but you can hear those old yellow beasts 6 miles away and still about 6 people a year managed to get hit by them

Heee! All the time I was in AMS, I kept waiting for one of the many stoned American fratboys in baseball caps, puka shells, bright white socks and university teeshirts to fall into a canal. Alas, it didn’t happen.

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To me, Budapest and Vienna were my biggest disappointments. I’ve been back to Budapest three times, because each time I think I must be doing something wrong, as so many people love it, but I think I’m done. I just don’t see it….

To make this worthwhile, some of my favorites are Sarajevo, Vilnius, Prague, Dubrovnik, Herceg-Novi, Ljubljana.

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i must say… helsinki. despite the fact that the people are quite friendly but there’s not much to see…. sorry

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I was just in the US for two weeks. What friendly people! It’s a nice place to visit but i wouldn’t want to live there ever again.

someone wrote this down…….from Denmark
wonder why he dosn’t want to live in the US?

I am leaving from US and traveling for 11 days
London, Brussels, Basel, Paris, London
Requesting help with Transport, Itinerary, Sights
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i loved all the sights and beauty in italy, but i hated the attitude i found from many people (not all). some people were just so arrogant, rude and lazy.

i´ve actually found the people in france to be the most polite and helpful.

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Pisa so far was my biggest disappointing… admittedly I was on a tour a we only had a few minutes there (rush out, shoot some pictures, get caught in a tourist trap restaurant).

I’m curious to know what other people think about Pisa? Did I miss something? Is there more to Pisa than a leaning tower and masses of tourists and lots of tourist traps?

I am leaving from Edmonton, Canada with $5000 for 14 days
Rome, Assisi, Florence