EUROPEAN TRAVEL ETIQUETTE

Aren’t we Indians a boisterous lot?! We have a great story telling tradition. Our mythologies, Upanishads, and ancient folklore were handed down for generations by word of mouth in the form of verses and stories. We tell these stories with such passion and enthusiasm, expressing the gamut of emotions with hand gestures and a loud narration. We are used to speaking in relatively a high decibel.

Unfortunately for us, in Europe, loudness is considered as impolite. Adults are expected to speak softly, especially in public places and children are supposed to behave and obey, not create a ruckus. So, the first code of conduct we need to imbibe is, not to be loud. Be it in restaurants, trains, buses or subways, ensure that your voice is not loud. In fact, there are quiet compartments in trains where you are not even supposed to talk on your mobile. Keep your eye out for these quiet coaches.

Beware of pickpockets. Flashing money around or peeling bills off of wads of cash would be a definite ‘attention-puller’ for them. You will be subjecting yourself to unnecessary risk if you show off the contents of your wallet or withdraw money from foreign ATMs in full view to public. Moreover, we Indians are used to wearing heavy gold jewelry every day. Please leave them back home where they will be much safer.

Familiarize yourself with the locals, their culture and tradition. Relish the local food. Feel free to talk to the locals about their choices of restaurants and food. Your inclination to taste their food will be much appreciated. Europeans mostly tend to frown upon fast food. Refrain from going around asking directions to the nearest Mc Donald’s. Try out the nearby local restaurant instead. You can tuck into the Big Macs once you are back in India.

Attempt to learn the phrases ‘Good Morning’ and ‘Thank You’ in the local language. Do not cringe at the idea of sounding like a foreigner (you are one, there!). These small things will help shed the inhibitions in you and your new friends and enrich your experience with the knowledge of a new culture. Adapt to and adopt the local ambience.

Con-artists, though in limited numbers, are always on the prowl and they love to target the tourists. Here are some tips to avoid being singled out.

  • Do not let your dress mark you as an ‘outsider’ for any antisocial elements. Dress like the locals – in neutral colors, scarves and layers.
  • Look confident. A confused look from you is enough to identify you as a potential target.
  • If lost, head to a coffee shop or a pub with free wifi and look up for directions.

Do not expect spacious hotel rooms, sumptuous buffet breakfast, cheap laundry or porters, in Europe. Rooms are smaller and expensive compared to a normal deluxe room in India. Toilets and bathrooms are smaller too. Adapt yourself to these differences. The European lifestyle is very eco-friendly. The luxury of the central heating in winter or the air-conditioning in summer is not a mandatory service. Lack of a dryer may make drying clothes a longer process. But Europeans are happy to live without these appliances. Appreciate their effort in leaving a greener footprint.

Europeans love to walk everywhere. Many of them, even in cities, do not opt to drive. To us, who hop in the car for even a trip round the corner, this is a challenge. But this is one of the best way to travel. Europeans have done their best to make walking around their cities comfortable and pleasant. Enjoy the walk!

Be it in a bistro or a Michelin-starred restaurant or a home kitchen, dining is serious business in Europe. The art of cuisine preparation is sacred in their culinary tradition. Eating is never to be rushed but savored – every element, every texture and every taste is there to be appreciated. The restaurants never bring you the check as soon as you finish your meal. Your server waits for you to ask for it when you are ready! Most likely your meal will be of three courses, that would be entirely satisfying. You would need at least an hour and a half to relish a three course meal. Plan to enjoy a proper meal.

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