Culture Shock in the “New” Central Europe

Absinthe in Bratislava

Absinthe in Bratislava

Things I Like

  • Buying a beer that is 1/3 larger than an American domestic beer, tastes better, and costs less than $1; wine is also about $1 a glass.
  • Flushing the toilet in two different ways: regular flush and super flush.
  • Awesome herb-based water, which tastes great and is good for you. Why do we only have boring spring water in America?
  • Colorful Euro paper money and interesting historic European pictures on coins.
  • Drinking Absinthe in a restaurant.
  • Buying a bottle of 70% Absinthe for less than $30.
  • Friendly Slovaks helping translate that the train attendant is saying you are sitting in first class but you only bought a second-class ticket.
  • Paying only a few Euros to continue to sit in first class.
  • Friendly Slovaks helping you on the bus find out what next thing you are supposed to ride to get to your destination.
  • Talking to very interesting Europeans.
  • Drinking in a bomb shelter converted into a bar deep underground.
  • Friendly Czechs in restaurants that make you feel like their extended family.
  • Watching a guy in a bar in Prague roll a joint and smoke it … and no one caring.
  • Paying about $25 for two dinners with side orders, 5 glasses of wine, coffee and a dessert.
  • Not being rushed in restaurants.
  • Inserting a 50-Euro cent into a shopping cart with all four wheels working properly and getting the coin back after using the cart.
  • Having your laundry cleaned for free in a hotel.
  • Watching TV in Czech, Slovak or Hungarian.
  • Bankomats.

Things I Don’t Like

  • Small showers with funny hand-holding shower heads.
  • One- and two-Euro coins.
  • Different sizes of paper money; each denomination gets larger to the point that you can hang the 500 Euro on your wall as a picture.
  • Train attendants who don’t speak English telling you that the train you are on is no longer going to your destination and that you will have to take a bus or another train at the next stop.
  • Missing your next train and being stuck in a large city celebrating some holiday while lugging your 55-pound backpack from one 4-star hotel to the next looking for a vacancy.
  • Paying 50 Euro to have your laundry cleaned in a 3-star hotel that charges 4-star prices.
  • Learning the hard way how to use public transportation.
  • Waiting for your waiter/waitress to bring your bill.
  • Meat-cornucopia breakfasts that come with your accommodations.
  • Hand jesturing to Slovaks who don’t speak English.
  • The guy who turns the light on in your dorm at 4 a.m. after his pub crawl so he can pack.
  • Sleeping in mixed dorms.
  • Church bell clanging … especially that one in Levice, Slovakia that clangs every morning for about 15 minutes, but never quite at 7 a.m.
  • No coffee machines in hotels.
  • Tolets in separate rooms from bathroom.
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5 Responses to Culture Shock in the “New” Central Europe

  1. Angela Sponer says:

    Hey Todd!
    I agree that the super flush/not so super flush is a great idea, but what’s so wrong with the breakfast meat cornucopia? That was my favorite way to start a day.

  2. Pam Phillips says:

    Super flush!!! Yeah!

    Todd, your tale about being stuck in a big city, pulling heavy luggage and looking for a hotel is hilarious and I can actually “see” that happening to you.

  3. Theo says:

    Rock steady, Todd! Sounds like a total blast!


  4. Pat Paholsky says:

    Nice humor! I do think, however, that too much absinthe is not good for the brain. But now that I think about that, perhaps it might be a good thing for you, like rearranging some molecules here and there. And what the heck is a super flush? You do not have to get too graphic with that one.
    Love, your mother

  5. Sharon Phillips says:

    Todd go with the flow and have a great time. My daughter brenda love traveling all over by train when traveling abroad. We miss you and hope you get a lot of great tales to tell us when you return. Love Sharon

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