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.

About Todd Paholsky

Web consultant having worked as Project Manager, Technical Lead, Business Analyst, and Developer for Fortune 500 companies and others for the past 15 years. My focus is on designing with standards in mind and following an agile development process in order to complete projects on time and under budget. Visit
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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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