Things in Europe are very different than they are in the United States. Usually, these differences are the reason we love Europe. The things that make it unique and special. But, while some differences are good, there are always some that are not exactly to an American’s liking.
A few weeks into my trip, I realized how much Americans value convenience. The Europeans, not so much. This difference became apparent in so many difference aspects of everyday life.
In most states in the US, restaurants are required to have bathrooms. Not only that, but these bathrooms are free to use. Of all things that could go wrong while I’m abroad, I never thought finding a free bathroom would be a problem. But alas, I have searched many stores, restaurants, and train stations trying to find the perfect combination of not too far away and costing 0 euros. I myself was never able to find the holy grail of bathrooms, but I soon learned that the locals have all the insight about using the Lou. Pro tip for traveling- find a nice looking citizen of whatever country you’re in, and ask them (without being weird) where they do there business when they’re not at home. I can almost guarantee you that they can tell you a place where you can pee for free less than a block away. It’s amazing.
My theory for why there are so few bathrooms in Europe is that all Europeans are dehydrated and they never actually have to use the bathroom. Water fountains are nonexistent, and I think all the restaurants here make most of their profit off of selling water. In the US, water is free, not just in your home. Usually the first thing a waiter does is greet the table with free waters to go around. Finished your cup? Have another! But, in most of Europe, this is not the case. Some parts will offer you table water, like France, and parts of the Netherlands, but its not exactly an unlimited supply like it is in the US. In Germany, they won’t even offer you table water. A bottle of water at a restaurant is around 3 euros. But, lucky for the Germans (and me), you can usually get a beer for about 2.50. Either way, if you know you’re the type of person who needs water (pretty much everyone), make sure you plan ahead for the day. Most of Europe is blessed with drinkable tap water, so the easiest way to get your fix of free water is just to bring a bottle along with you. If you’re picky about the way your water tastes and prefer drinking bottled water, my advice is to get over yourself and just drink tap water. I promise you’ll be okay, and maybe you’ll realize that bottled water is not worth the money or waste that it produces.
Moving forward from my little environmental rant, let me tell you about ice. Or I guess, the lack there of. Americans, treasure ice. Never forget the feeling of drinking something ice cold. Because trust me, you always want what you can’t have, and that especially goes for ice. To all the Europeans out there, I’m sorry you have not felt the joy that ice brings to a person’s life. Its fun to crunch (despite your dentist’s warnings) and it takes drinks to the next level.
The funniest part about all of my slight annoyances here, is that to Europeans, its life. So what if you have to go a little out of your way to find a free bathroom, or pay 50 cents for one every once in a while? So what if you have to carry around a water bottle for free water? So what if your drink is not the coldest temperature it could be and you have nothing to chew on after you finish drinking it? It’s a different attitude, because it’s a different culture. I’m not saying Europeans have a better attitude than Americans do, but its always interesting to observe the differences, big or small, that happen in a place so far away from home.