In need of some European travel advice

Apr 30th, 2005, 02:45 PM
  #1  
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In need of some European travel advice

Hi. I'm going to be going on a road trip in Europe. Zurich, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, and Barcelona in a span of 14 days with a friend. He has been there many times, but this is my first time out of the country. I have more of a cultural question than anything else. How are people different in Europe than America? Is it hard to meet people and make friends there? I'm from Chicago and people tend to be a bit stand-offish here. Is it the same there? I'm a little shy, so I'm a worried about not meeting people or having fun there. Oh, and one last question. Will people there give me a hard time when they hear my accent and realize I'm American because of the war and politics? Thanks for any help.
-Dominic
dsalad1 is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 03:03 PM
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If your friend has been there many times, he should give you his opinions on your questions about whether people made fun of him, etc. Whether people are standoffish or not in general, is not the experience of a tourist, necessarily.

I'm sure you can have fun, but you cannot realistically expect to make friends or meet anyone seriously if you are visiting 6 cities all across Europe in 14 days. I don't really know how that is logistically even possible. I guess maybe one day in each city? Most local residents don't hang out in major tourist locales, which is probably what you are going to be seeing if it's your first trip. Do you meet and become friends with tourists to Chicago?
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Apr 30th, 2005, 03:08 PM
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ira
 
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Hi Dom,

>How are people different in Europe than America?<

How long do you want to sit and listen to my answer?

Don't worry. Millions of Americans visit Europe every year.

>Zurich, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, and Barcelona in a span of 14 days with a friend.<

Have you actually done the logistics of this expedition? It is not something that I would recommend, even if you are 18 and in great shape.

ira is online now  
Apr 30th, 2005, 04:56 PM
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People in Europe are very much the same to people in America. They shouldn't treat you badly because you're American. I haven't had any problems being American in Europe.

You don't have enough time to make friends. You'll only be in Europe 14 days and in each city 2 days (if you fly to the next destination) or less if you take the train.

adrienne is offline  
Apr 30th, 2005, 05:03 PM
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People in europe are perfectly civil (they don;t mzke the mistake of assuming the policiies of our government are things the averagte person really agrees with) but do tend to be sommewhat more reserved and less effusive than americans. (And I've never noticed that people in Chicago are standoffish - they seem perfectly friendly to me.)

But this really isn;t an issue for this trip - because you're going to be moving so fast you won;t have a chance to interact with anybody but your friend and a bunch of train conductors/waiters.

(And I do;t know how you "make friends" with people in an hour or two - you can cetainly converse with them - but to me friendship takes weeks - at a minimum - to develop.)
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Apr 30th, 2005, 07:48 PM
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Do you speak any other languages than English? If not, you definitely don't need to worry about making friends.

And as others have mentioned, traveling at such a fast pace and by car (instead of train) I don't see when you would expect to have the time to get to know local people.

If you were moving to Europe, or staying in one city/country for several months then your questions might make more sense.

I can't imagine you will be having any interaction where the war or politics would come into the picture.
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May 1st, 2005, 03:14 AM
  #7  
JN
 
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Dominic,
In general, Europeans are more reserved than Americans when first meeting people, but the range is so wide that you'll find outgoing types, too. I've found that small talk conversations on the train, where it looks like you will spend most of this trip, is easy.

Even though you didn't ask for advice, I wanted to comment on your itinerary (think of me as a surrogate dad: insisting on giving advice, even when not asked). Why such a huge distance over such a short time frame? It's hard to imagine really seeing anything beyond the inside of a train or car. There's lots to see in any one or two of those countries you've mentioned. But to do all in 14 days seems like a killer--and not as much fun as staying in a place for a few days and getting a real feel for it.

Ok, end of travel advice/lecture. Have a good trip.
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May 1st, 2005, 03:25 AM
  #8  
cmt
 
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Unless this is for real, http://winace.andkon.com/pics/dnftt.jpg
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May 1st, 2005, 04:49 AM
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Southern Europeans:
1. Smoke everywhere (even where it says no smoking).
2. Don't understand the concept of waiting in a line.
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May 1st, 2005, 05:08 AM
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Another difference: Europeans probably wouldn't bat an eyelash about your so-called "hectic" intinerary.

They think about the "politics and the war" the same way many Americans do but in general they are much more used to living amongst many people with very diverse views where it is necessary to get along with others. I suspect they have learned the hard lessons of "hypernationalism" and are able to distinguish between that outlook and "patriotism."
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May 1st, 2005, 06:37 AM
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rex
 
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<<Zurich, Germany, Amsterdam, Paris, Nice, and Barcelona>>

... is analogous to Newark (Zurich is about as interesting), "New England" (Germany is actually bigger and more diverse), Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta and New Orleans - - all in 14 days.

<<hard to meet people and make friends there?>>

Just seek out anyone wearing jet propulsion roller skates.. they'll be naturally attracted to you.

Best wishes,

Rex
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May 1st, 2005, 06:49 AM
  #12  
jay
 
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I agree with Rex and Ira. That is one heck of a trip. Will you actually get to see anything? Europeans dont hate americans, they hate George W. and our government. Just be respectful. Besides with that aggressive schedule that you have there may be little chance of actually interacting with any europeans.
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May 1st, 2005, 10:35 AM
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For Dominic, I'm still curious about your language skills. I do believe more than any other single factor that's what will help or prevent you from making friends (well at least having a brief conversation with locals).
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May 1st, 2005, 01:16 PM
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This isn't any of the places that you listed, but I had a rather negative experience while in Olomouc in the Czech Republic -- or at least, it would have been negative if I had been American. There were ten or so of us in my group and we were en route to Poland. People in Olomouc didn't seem very happy to see us, and we got a generally unpleasant vibe from the whole place.

Luckily we were only staying one night, but the mystery was solved the next day anyway. We finally found a restaurant where some of the staff were willing and able to speak English, and were ordering our lunch. One of my friends asked for a particular dish, and the waiter refused to put in the order, saying, "You Americans won't like it". We were very surprised to be taken for Americans, and quickly put him straight that we were actually Irish. He immediately became much more friendly, and started laughing and joking with us.

I definitely got the impression that people were cold towards us because they assumed we were American. That is the only time I've ever been abroad and not felt welcome in any town, and it certainly wasn't pleasant. I don't even know why it was like that -- maybe the people in Olomouc were just sick of American tourists passing through, as it is a common stop-off point between Prague and Krakow. I honestly don't know.

I'm sure that is not the norm though!
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May 1st, 2005, 01:45 PM
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Hi
You will have no time to make friends. You will be moving on to the next place the very next day, or the day after that.
There are no "people in Europe" but people in individual countries, and individual people in each of those countries. Some will be pleasant, some won't. Don't you find that at home?

As for your final question, yes, Americans are generally tarred and feathered in Europe due to the war and politics. Haven't you been reading the articles about this? I'd just say that I'm Canadian and hope for the best.

Just wondering how you're going to cover all of Germany in 2 days, but as rex mentioned, it might be that jet-propulsion thingy.

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May 1st, 2005, 01:56 PM
  #16  
ira
 
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Hi IJ,

>One of my friends asked for a particular dish, and the waiter refused to put in the order, saying, "You Americans won't like it". ...we were actually Irish. He immediately became much more friendly, and started laughing and joking with us.<

But, did you ever get the dish that he wouldn't serve to Americans?

What was it?


ira is online now  
May 1st, 2005, 02:07 PM
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Ha ha! No, the waiter still wouldn't serve it to us! He kept saying that it was something you had to acquire a taste for and we wouldn't like it. It was some kind of pickled vegetables but I don't remember the name of the dish.

I think he was right, though, because when we got to Krakow, my same friend ordered a dish that was possibly the same thing -- seemed to be the same description -- and it was [to our taste] absolutely foul.
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