Culture Shock in the “New” Central Europe
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.
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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