Relatively speaking, there are many other places on earth for a Canadian to experience culture shock than in Central Europe . . . for as many differences, there are certainly a lot of overlaps. Like, no one here has heard of Justin Bieber, but everyone knows Lady Gaga — you know what I am talking about.
Here is a random list.
+++ I am currently listening to a Montreal band I was turned on to by a Dutch friend. I live closer to Montreal than he does. He probably doesn’t even know who the Expos were, let alone what Baseball even is. Just kidding Jaco, we went to a baseball game together last night, remember? True story.
Jaco also put me onto a Toronto based band as well, so I am pretty well out of touch with whats happening, musically, in my own backyard.
+++ Trains. European trains, plus local public transit feature the best system anywhere on the planet.
However, It is quite common, when hopping trains, making transfers, etc, that as a foreigner you will — I repeat, will — hop the wrong train eventually.
You will have a slight moment of panic, but here is some advice I can pass along to you: Like Colquhoun’s theology, pretty much all trains eventually lead to the same place. So don’t sweat it.
Also, when you screw up your ticket, pay the wrong fare, forget to get your ticket stamped in one of the machines at the station and the conductor comes along, as they always will. It’s best to put on your best “tourist” face. Play the tourist card heavily in this situation. Grace will abound.
Oh, here is another tidbit about trains. Sometimes the train you are riding toward your destination will actually split apart at a train station, and you will be left sitting in the section of cars that won’t be moving ahead, but will be returning in the direction you came and then off to somewhere else.
An announcement will come over the PA telling you to make sure your are in the right train cars if you want to continue on to destination “X”. But those instructions will be in French, Dutch, German or Italian. So whatever, enjoy the wrong train. Ha.
+++ Shelf toilets. If you ask some locals, there is a good, detailed and gross reason for the shelf toilet, but mostly they are a damned nightmare.
+++So the sea or ocean (in the North) might be cold and unswimmable, but European beaches are pretty much the best ever.
+++More Train Thoughts. Schedules. Train schedules are a serious thing. Trains, as it has often been said for one reason or another, do run on time. I can’t figure this out . . . Since I have experienced lengthy delays while on a train. One time the train hit a cow.
I don’t know how the train stations account for the delays and make sure everything runs on time.
The first time I was in Europe, I had a Euro-rail book full of train schedules. Since I can be skeptical of time schedules put in print months ahead, I asked a train official in Munich if my train (which was leaving the next morning) would actually leave the station at the time suggested. I asked: “Will this train be late?” — I’m still not sure why I phrased my question like that.
His response: “Sir, that would be impossible” Awesome.
+++Beer. Here is a finding from a menu I came across last week: Bier: €2. Water: €5. Enough said.