I love traveling to Europe. I’ve been to France, Spain, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Holand, Belgium, and Italy. I love gothic architecture, modern architecture, German efficiency, Budapest spas, medieval castles, crazy train rides, beautiful art, mesmerizing churches, crazy churches, incredible libraries, ancient books, the wine, and the beer. Crossing the Atlantic has been our annual summer getaway and I look forward to it every year.
However, there are a few things that Europe absolutely, positively sucks at. They are mostly small things, conveniences I’ve grown used to in the US that I miss while abroad. So, my dear European reader(s), take note and spread the word. I have a trip planned to France this August and if you could get these fixed by then, I’d be most grateful.
1. Shower curtains
I’m not sure if it’s just our bad luck, but the majority of the apartments and hotels we’ve stayed at in Europe did not have shower curtains around the bath tub. We’ve run into this in several places in Germany, Hungary and Poland. Do Europeans not shower? Or do they somehow magically manage to do it without getting the entire bathroom soaked?
2. Bug nets
All the apartments and hotels we’ve stayed at in Europe are fairly modern, except for one thing: they have yet to discover the bug net. Maybe all the smoking they do (see #5) keeps the bugs away, but every time I crack open a window, I have to worry about getting eaten alive by mosquitos.
Europeans love to drink, so long as it’s not water. They serve up incredible beer by the liter, but order water at a restaurant and you get a weird look. Moreover, it’s never clear if the tap water is safe to drink, so no trip to Europe is complete without a daily stop at the convenience store for some bottled water.
4. Customer service
In the US, the customer is always right; in Europe, the customer is an obstacle to a quiet day. The combination of jobs from which you can’t be fired (e.g. various government functionaries), the fact that the tip is usually included in the bill, and a general disdain for Americans, means that the customer service you get in Europe may not be quite as friendly, smiling, and helpful as you’d expect. And don’t bother asking for a manager: they almost always side with the employee.
This is by far my biggest annoyance with Europe. For a part of the world that is generally very modern, progressive and environmentally and health conscious, they sure do love their cigarettes. Everyone smokes and they do it everywhere. You have to make a special effort to get a non-smoking room, non-smoking cabin, non-smoking rental car, and sit in the non-smoking part of the restaurant. And despite all that, my clothes still end up smelling like an ash tray after every trip.