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Guest

Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 18, 2002 11:17 pm

Hello all!

I am planning to take my first trip to Europe some time next year. I haven't decided where to go, but I'm kind of leaning towards the UK. I'd like to see London plus the famous 'English Countryside'.

an any of you that live there and/or have travelled there give me some pointers on tourist etiquette?

I know that Anti-American sentiment is at a high point over there right now. I don't want to reinforce tha attitude by making a jackass out of myself. I want to be a good tourist, and actually enjoy myself.

I know that every country has its own traditions, culture, and customs, and what might be perfectly acceptable in one country might get you egged or even jailed in another.

What are the do's and don'ts for tourists from the US visiting Europe-especially the UK?

Also, what about the language difference? I know that in the UK, the dialect of English they speak is different from what I'm used to here in the States.
As an example, take "french fries". I heard that french fries are known as "chips" in the UK. So if I ask for an order of "fries", no one will know what am talking about.

Are there tours I can take to go from London to the "countryside"? How would I get there? What about food? What's available? How much would things cost such as lodging, cigarettes, food, souveneirs, etc.?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

-Cerulean
 
transswede
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 18, 2002 11:38 pm

Just be yourself and friendly, and understanding of local customs and culture. That will go a long way in *every* country you could visit.

Anti-american sentiment in europe is greatly exaggerated. While people may object to some US government policies, very few (if any) people transfer such a dislike to individual americans they encounter.

Don't worry.
 
goingboeing
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 18, 2002 11:42 pm

First off, you're going to England, so it won't be necsessary to speak slowly, yet loudly, as if that is going to help someone understand you. I imagine all these "English as a second language" classes where the instructor simply yells things like "DID YOU HAVE A NICE DAY?", and then slowly repeats (even louder) "DID.....YOU.....HAVE....A....NICE.....DAY?".
 
Andreas
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 18, 2002 11:58 pm

1. Be yourself and be friendly, like transswede says!
2. Don't try to adapt regional peculiarities, because THEN you'll make a big A.s out of yourself.
3. USA and Europe are not that far apart in most aspects, so don't worry, you'll find out you're not that much of a stranger over here!
4. There is no anti-American sentiment, at least not in Germany, believe me!! And I do think that goes as well for most other European countries.
5. Even if you prefer to start A vs. B wars wherever you go, don't expect people to become angry *gggg*.
6. Have a nice trip!

regards

Andreas
I know it's only VfB but I like it!
 
swissgabe
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 12:08 am

Well, to be honest I'm not a friend of American politics at all but normally I don't have any problems with the majority of Americans and as long as they don't tell me how great they are and how good their politic is and so one ...

Be as you like and how ever you want to be during your stay in Europe.
Remember, don't eat with your hands (except in places like Burger King) and in the UK they drive on the left, the 2nd one could save your life.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

cheers n have fun over here!
Smooth as silk - Royal Orchid Service /// Suid-Afrikaanse Lugdiens - Springbok
 
teva
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 12:38 am

If you travel to England, do not tell that their language is a dialect (remember... It is called English, and you are in England. Even if they have a lot of humor, not sure they will like that one)
In addition to that , they don't drive on the right side of the road... But on the wrong....
It may be surprising if you walk and want to cross the streets.
Have a nice trip
Teva
Ecoute les orgues, Elles jouent pour toi...C'est le requiem pour un con
 
airsicknessbag
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 12:48 am

And if you happen to drive a car on a German Autobahn, don´t dare to drive in the left lane at less than 120 mph (unless of course there´s a limit on that particular stretch) - you´d make some Mercedes and BMW drivers very angry Big grin

Daniel Smile
 
ryanb741
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:02 am

As a Brit I can categorically state that there is absolutely no anti-American feelings over here. France is possibly the only EU country with such feelings.

As for etiquette - be polite etc but remember that in general Americans are much more polite than Brits. Above all, just be yourself and have fun - you are on holiday so relax and enjoy it!
I used to think the brain is the most fascinating part of my body. But, hey, who is telling me that?
 
Rai
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:09 am

Here's another suggestion. Try to mix in and act like the locals. If you go around playing tourist, you'd be easy pray for rip-offs and pickpocketing.
 
PH-BFA
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:11 am

Try not to eat with only one hand as it is considered rude in Europe

Ph-BFA
 
mt99
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:28 am

Hey, you have taken the first most important step, and recognize that you need to respect the customs and people of the country you are visting, the its the same story if you visit europe or any other place.

I remember in being in Venice being in line to enter St. Peters and the attendants stopped a lady from the USA, wearing shorts and a tank top and asked her to cover herself or she would not be allowed inside, she made a big scene and ended up with the typical "Let me in, I am an American" (barf)

So the way i figure, wether you say chips or fries doesnt really matter as long as you dont tell the attendant the they are stupid or insult them for calling them chips.

Step into my office, baby
 
mt99
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:29 am

oopps. not St. Peters... St. Marks in Venice...

Step into my office, baby
 
sushka
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:31 am

Dont expect that people are there to make your travel better.
I saw many American tourists come to Russia that would just complain and yell at everybody because they were not used to something.
Pershoyu Spravoyu Litaki!
 
jaysit
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:37 am

Fake a lousy british accent like Madonna does. They will really love you then as they undoubtedly love her.
Atheism is Myth Understood.
 
KAUSpilot
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 1:42 am

In my travels to Europe many of my American counterparts were quite rude and vociferous (especially those from the northeast, new York, new jersey and the like). The reaped the consequences and were constantly ridiculed by the workers in the various places we visited. My advice is speak only as much as necessary unless you consider yourself fluent in the native tongue, (not a problem in the UK), keep a low profile, dress modestly, don't smile or laugh loudly too much, and always stay around someone who is an experienced traveler (tour guide, etc). Be respectful around churches and monuments (don't talk) and always be cautiously cheerful when engaging in transactions with merchants.
 
EGNV
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 3:04 am

If you're coming to England, talk at a reasonable level. There's nothing worse than American tourists which can be heard.

:D

EGNV
 
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sebolino
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 4:52 am

If you come to France (which I doubt considering what you said) just try to avoid wearing a suit with basket shoes and a cap.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

If you go to a good restaurant, don't ask for fries or hamburgers. If you take some wine, don't try to mix it with Coke  Smile/happy/getting dizzy  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

Hey !!
Come on, I'm kidding. Big grin
 
ben
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 5:13 am

A good book to get is the Lonely Planet. I use it for all of my travelling, however the UK series isnt as good as the other places they cover.

The English countryside is nice - and easy to get to. One of the places I would highly recommend is a town called Bath. Its about 1:10 from London-Paddington by train. The best of a pretty, small town and the countryside combined.

There was a very good e-mail going around explaining English customs to American travellers... I will try to find it tomorrow for you. I hope you enjoy your stay. The first time I came here (from Australia) I liked it so much I decided to stay, and Ive been here ever since (6 years?).

And finally... When youre on the London Underground (our 'Subway' - but never call it that please), dont talk loudly and make a scene.... and dont try to just 'strike up a conversation'. Stare at your shoes and try not to rub up against anyone no matter how crowded rush-hour is. Thankyou. *cringe*
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 6:25 am

Just act like you are a guest in the house of a new acquaintance and you will be just fine.

There is nothing more endearing than a modest, interested, American traveler.

I say this without any sarcasm.

QANTASforever
Fighting for the glory of the Australian Republic.
 
QANTASforever
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 6:29 am

Oh! BTW. If you see something the locals are doing that you would'nt ever thing about doing in a million years...............do it!

Trust me. It will broaden your mind, the locals will include you, and you will get a lot more out of it than your average tourist stay.

QANTASforever

P.s: Just watch "The Beach" lol
Fighting for the glory of the Australian Republic.
 
desertjets
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 7:52 am

What I found in my week in England this summer is that Britons are among the friendliest and most hospitable people out there. And also remember that you are not the only tourist there. Which will become readily apparent to you while in London. I'd suggest buying a decent travel guide... I personally like the Let's Go series, b/c they are oriented at 20 somethings like myself with little money.

Oh yeah, Bath is a cute little town. Though if it wasn't for a conference there I probably wouldn't have been there more than a day.
Stop drop and roll will not save you in hell. --- seen on a church marque in rural Virginia
 
paulc
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 3:40 pm

If coming to the UK and want to see something other than the typical tourist places like London, York, Oxford - there are many other smaller places worth a visit. ie I live in a city called Winchester, which has a history going back to pre-roman times, it has a cathedral which is over 900 years old. Best of all it is only an hour away from London by train (apologises in advance for those)
and so a day trip here is not a problem.

Probably the best advice is to do some research before your visit and decide what you wish to see/do depending on specific interests.

English First, British Second, european Never!
 
saintsman
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 19, 2002 6:49 pm

London, like most capitol cities I suppose, is very expensive. Unlike America there is a lot to see within a short distance, so you may get better value for money by travelling around. By doing this you will also find out what England is lreally like.

Now you mentioned that you wanted to visit the UK so there is also Scotland, Wales and N Ireland to consider and all worth a visit. Broaden your horizons and see them all. I believe that most Americans do not venture outside of London and think that it is representative of the country as a whole.

I would expect you to be welcome where ever you go, more so away from the usual touristy areas.
 
Guest

RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Sun Sep 22, 2002 3:05 pm

Things not to say in UK or Europe (or anywhere else) - :-(
xxx
(Saleslady) - The price is 25 Euros, Sir...
(You) - What is that in "real" money...?
... Their currency is (quite) "real" to them...
xxx
(You) - Who's the dude who lives in that joint with guards up front...?
(Cab driver) - The Queen of Denmark, Sir...
xxx
(Waiter) - Today we have a lovely tournedos with cresson, pommes-frites...
(You) - Don't you have "good food" like a hamburger...?
xxx
... You "hire" (rent) a car in UK...
(Clerk) - Have you driven in England before, Sir..?
(You) - Yeah... I can drive on the f*****g wrong side of the road...
... To them it is the "right" side even if it is on the left hand side...
(You) - Do you have like a normal car... an automatic I mean...?
... In UK, many consider automatic transmissions are for inexperienced drivers...
xxx
(Waiter) - Encore un verre de biere, Monsieur...?
(You) - Can't you speak English like everybody else...?
... maybe the waiter DID NOT know you speak English...
xxx
(You) - In America, we have MUCH BETTER than that...
... Yes, they know, everything is... "better" in America...
xxx
Sad to say, but this is at times the "attitude" of some Americans in foreign countries... When you visit overseas, you are representing your nation... and unfortunately, sometimes, not always, this type of attitude leaves a bad impression...
(s) Skipper

 
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fanoftristars
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Mon Sep 23, 2002 5:52 am

I'm actually in London right now visiting from the US. Yes, be polite but don't expect much politness in return. The brits I have run into have been less than warm.

Get used to a somewhat "fatty diet" every place you go seems to serve lots ov heavy meals, Meats, potatoes, and deep fried everything! One place we went had Deep Fried Pizza! Yuck. But, the Indian restraunts are very good, and you can always grab a sandwich from Marks and Spencer. If you get a chance head to Scotland, the best place in the UK  Smile
"FLY DELTA JETS"
 
blink182
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Mon Sep 23, 2002 8:17 am

Head out to Edinburgh. I was there a few summers ago. It is an interesting city with some cool day trips that are only an hour or so by train. And you can never get tired of the Bagpipes and the clan shops where you can find stuff on your family if your name is of Scottish origin.

The flight from LHR to EDI is pretty neat too(and so is the return). Hope it is clear as the views from the English and Scottish countryside are eye candy(too bad from my views, the 757's wing got in the way  Laugh out loud).

blink
Give me a break, I created this username when I was a kid...
 
[email protected]
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Mon Sep 23, 2002 8:43 am

The countryside is great, i suggest you try the West Country like Wiltshire, Cornwall and the South like Hampshire or Kent. There are some picturesque town and villages there, infact you might want to try Stonehenge.  Big grin

In Arsene we trust!!
 
flpuck6
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Mon Sep 23, 2002 10:58 am

I didn't read all of the above posts, but one suggestion from someone who lived abroad for 9 months:

Lower your tone of voice in public places (on the subway, in the bus, in a cafe...). Americans have a tendency to have loud voices compared to those of Europeans.

-Chris
Bonjour Chef!
 
Banco
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Tue Sep 24, 2002 5:56 am

I've got to laugh at some of things written above about Britain. We don't have two heads and come from a different planet you know! Just be yourself, for heaven's sake. You'll hardly have problems making yourself understood, we speak the same language - if someone doesn't understand a phrase they'll ask you, and if it is the other way around, just do the same. Britons visit the US all the time and Americans come over here all the time so it isn't as if we're unfamiliar with you.

By the way, Fanoftristars, the exquisitely polite Brits of reputation exist only in the usual ludicrous Hollywood interpretation of us. In reality we're easygoing normal people just like yourselves. In truth, if you find someone being really, really polite to you, it's because they don't like you. That cold civility is not something you really want to experience.
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
777kicksass
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Tue Sep 24, 2002 6:43 am

Maybe you'd want to research England a bit more before you go! You would find out that England and America are pretty much the same apart from the accent and I would say slightly different eating habits! Yes, we know what fries are - 75% of British TV is American!

You are totally welcome in Britain I dont know where you got the anti-American idea from!
 
[email protected]
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Tue Sep 24, 2002 8:24 am

There is no anti-america stuff in the UK, most people don't care, they just see america as another democratic, western country like everyone else. Maybe in mainland Europe there might be a hint of anti-americanism, but not here, so relax and just enjoy.  Big grin


In Arsene we trust!!
 
flyboy36y
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Tue Sep 24, 2002 11:26 am

When I was in Mexico I met a British lady.

I started a chat:

Some excepts:

"It's bloody good to meet an American here, there is an English couple here but I quite frankly dn't wish to tak to 'em... I mean I'm in Mexico. Prefer to meet Americans or Mexicans"

"There's not enough arse kissing at this resort. You come here on holiday.. and I mean back in me 18-30 days I had me fun..."

OK, that was all I understood.

British english when spoken can soud very awkward when spoken whith a thick Docklands accent.
 
L1011
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 25, 2002 7:31 am

I visited England and Scotland this past summer and found the people to be quite friendly. I had a BritRail Pass and rode up to the northern part of Scotland, a town called Thurso. The hotel manager welcomed me by name when I arrived, as if he knew me. He personally took me up to my room. A man walking his dog struck up a conversation with me at the railway station, and seemed to enjoy talking to me. In Inverness, the two cab drivers I encountered were just regular guys, nothing like cab drivers in New York. And employees of a movie theatre there were very helpful in helping me get a cab back to my hotel. If you go, just be yourself, and I think you'll have a great trip.

Bob Bradley
Richmond, VA
Fly Eastern's Golden Falcon DC-7B
 
ILOVEA340
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 25, 2002 9:08 am

Some of the american tourists piss me off so much. It tends to be one of 2 groups that piss me off.
1) 16-20 year olds who take adavntage of the drinking ages in europe and get drunk and roam the steets like total idiots.
2) the ones (usually older) that expect every one in europe to speak english with them and when some one in a store can't speak english they become all pissed off and state how english is the world language and working in a tourist place like this the workers should speak english. You are going to a foreign country where english usualy isn't the national language.... deal with it.
 
N312RC
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 25, 2002 9:53 am

I was in London and Bath for a week, very very VERY nice places. I like it so much I wish I lived there. Next spring I will be travelling back, this time visiting Edinburgh, Scotland and Paris. (DTW-LHR-EDI-LHR-Bus Transfer to Waterloo-Eurostar to Paris). I think the UK is absolutely wonderful.
 
Scotty
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 25, 2002 6:38 pm

Hi Cerulean

If you are coming to Scotland, tell us when and we'll show you some interesting airplanes & spotting places.

Scotty
 
mls515
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 25, 2002 10:45 pm

If you leave the British Isles and go to mainland Europe, spend the few minutes to learn the basic phrases in the native language (I know English isn't native native everywhere in the British Isles, long story...) of whichever country you're in. As a tourist, most everyone you will deal with will know English but it sure seemed to me that I was respected more for at least trying to say a few things in the native language. Of course you're making an ass of yourself but it's better than the locals having to make an ass of themseves in a non-native language.

Don't let the "language barrier" intimidate you away from visiting mainland Europe. Hell, the native language at some fast food restaurants in our own country isn't English. You can acomplish a lot with just a few quicly learned phrases. Like I said, most people you will deal with in the popular western European countries will know English.

Don't be loud. See above. Also don't go around with a bunch of shopping bags and a camera around your neck, etc.. Don't be a tourist. Try to walk around without being weighted down. Respect the local culture.

Don't go around pointing out all the stupid little differences between wherever you are and back home. Of course these things are different, you're in a different country! This not only pisses off the locals but also other Americans you're travelling with. Don't go out of your way to explain different ways of doing things to the locals just for the sake of doing so. Of course you have a different way of doing things, you're from a different country. People just don't want to hear this babble.

If you're going to be travelling around on trains or whatever, bring a walkman so you can listen to the local radio.

I don't know what the appeal of some of the touristy places is. Go to have a good time. It's like Clark looking at the Grand Canyon in the movie 'Vacation'. You see something, and then what? Don't get burned out on touristy stuff. Get a good guide book and carefully decide what you really want to see. See stuff you cannot see back home. Don't go out of your way to see stuff that every big city in America has too. Make sure you relax and have fun with the people you are travelling with. Go to less travelled areas to get a feel for where you are. Just go in stores and browse around or whatever. Don't feel like you have to do all of the touristy stuff.

mls515



P.S. Note to Europeans: Americans from the coasts tend to be the a-holes. The ones from the middle of the country are the ordinary quiet and polite Americans.
 
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fanoftristars
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Wed Sep 25, 2002 11:34 pm

More observations from my trip to the UK... (I just got home yesterday)

There are several inexpensive tours that you can take from London to the countryside. A week long, hop on-hop off, bus tour will cost around $200 US. These tours are totally worth it. We went with Stray, a company that tends to cater to students. They pre-arrange your places to stay, about 11 pounds a night, and point out all the cool facts about the area. We went to some really cool places, places you'd never see on your own tour. We even went into an old Welsh Coal mine, with a tour given by a miner that used to work there in the 50's. Really cool and totally FREE. Those are the type of good things to see in the UK.

Stay away from the tourist centers in the small villages. The food there is quite expensive, the gift shop is way overpriced, and you really don't get to see the real part of the village. I could see how these places would appeal to the senior citizens, but for the average tourist they're no good. Just walk around and see the place  Smile
"FLY DELTA JETS"
 
kl713
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 4:21 am

Stand on the right on the escalators and Mind the gap between the doors and the platform!, both on the London Underground  Laugh out loud
732 733 734 73G 738 739 742 743 744 752 763 764 77E 773 77L 77W 788 789 319 320 332 333 343 346 388 E75 E90 M11 146 DH8
 
cx340
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 6:27 am

The advice given so far to you is great, so I will just add one thing: The mere fact that you are concerned about trying to be a good tourist and respecting the traditions, customs and way of living of the place you will visit tells me that you will have no problem and will have a great time wherever you go. Its all attitude!
 
gaut
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 6:32 am

UK is not Europe

Gaut
«Horum omnium fortissimi sunt Belgae.»
 
flight152
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 9:05 am

P.S. Note to Europeans: Americans from the coasts tend to be the a-holes. The ones from the middle of the country are the ordinary quiet and polite Americans.

For god sake, stop making dumb generalizations. Yeah, everyone living on the cost is loud and impolite.  Insane  Insane  Insane
 
N312RC
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 9:53 am

LOL... my favorite British phrase!!

MIND THE GAP!!
 
Guest

RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 10:02 am

Gaut, why do you say that the UK is not Europe? Surely it must be, and not just in the geographic respect!

By the way, enjoy the UK if you come this way, and my own little recommendations would be....Bath, Cambridge and North Wales (you can't get away from every tourist, and these places are nice!)

Rgds
 
seven_fifty7
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 10:23 am

The last time I was in Europe, I was informed that you WILL "stand out" as an American if you simply wear a baseball cap. This was especially true in Germany, where they told me Germans generally hate baseball caps.

Are baseball caps mostly an "American" form of dress?
 
9V-SVA
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 3:45 pm

Concur with B747skipper. Almost all the cars I saw while I was in Italy had manual transmission. And the Italians are CRAZY drivers. You can stand at a zebra crossing for ages and you will not be able to cross.

Learn some basic/important phrases of the country you are visiting. For example in Italian, thank you is "grazie". All these can make a difference. My family got cheated of about 20 EUR while having an ice cream at a gelataria along Via Nazionale.

In London, just speak normally. I spoke my normal standard of English while I was there 5 years ago and almost everyone understood. Don't put on fake accents, they'll just stare at you if you're nuts. After all, using a fake accent and wrongly pronouncing a word can make a fool out of you.

9V-SVA

9V-SVA | B772ER
 
petertenthije
Posts: 4174
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RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Thu Sep 26, 2002 5:06 pm

Just a few things I noticed during my placement there:

If you say someone is thick it does not mean fat, but it means silly/stupid.
If you order two bear do not do so by pointing the index and middlefinger in the air towards the bar keeper. That is considered to be rude (do not ask me why, all I know is that the bar keeper was not happy about it). tand on the right of escalators/moving walkways and walk on the left of escalators/moving walkways.
Also, have a bit of respect for the culture. I have once seen an American ask a priest to step aside so he could make a photo of the nice windows. I do not think I have to explain you why this is not considered to be polite.

I think you will find no problem at all. Just the fact that you ask about the differences in culture is a very good indication of that. Some Americans seem to consider their culture to be THE culture. We (Europeans) just have to adapt, even if it is the Americans that are abroad.

May you could also visit Holland for one or two days. You will find some of the best English in the world Big grin, some interesting architecture, planes and... nightlife! Moreover, flying low cost will cost you roughly 80 pound return, including all taxes!
The first thing to remember is always treat your kite like you treat your woman.
Get inside her five times a day and take her to heaven and back!
Lord Flashheart, 1989
 
Banco
Posts: 14343
Joined: Mon Oct 29, 2001 11:56 pm

RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Fri Sep 27, 2002 2:48 am

Ah, the two fingered salute. Well, it might be a bit sad, but I can tell you exactly why this gesture is deemed offensive - albeit only a little. It came about as a result of the Hundred Years War between England and France (although strictly it was between warring noble families, but let's not get into that) about 600 years ago. The English longbow archers were the elite troops of the time, with a weapon of much greater range and power than the equivalent continental crossbow. The French knights were decimated by English longbowmen shooting arrows high in the air which fell on the knights and went straight through their armour. As a result, any longbowmen captured had their fore and middle fingers cut off by the French so that they could no longer pose such a threat.

Hence, before a battle, the Englsih would stick their two fingers up at the French to show that they still had them, and would shortly be using them to kill as many Frenchmen as possible. It therefore became an insulting (although not really rude) gesture.

Of course, in the 1940's Churchill used the V for victory sign in the same way, so that the British (but not the Germans or indeed anyone else) knew exactly what he meant - yes, V for victory, but a real "up yours" at the Germans.

Fascinating what you can learn on here isn't it?  Big grin
She's as nervous as a very small nun at a penguin shoot.
 
VirginLover
Posts: 918
Joined: Sun Mar 19, 2000 8:46 am

RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Fri Sep 27, 2002 4:03 am

>>Stand on the right on the escalators

Hehehe...I made that faux pas on the last day of my European trip. We had left Paris at 6am (After getting to bed at 1:30 after a rental car return mess...ugh!), took the Metro to Gare du Nord, then took the Eurostar to Waterloo before getting the Underground to Paddington to take the Heathrow Express to our flight on VS to New York...all of us carrying our carryons and rolling suitcases. By the time I got to the Underground I was exhausted and I knew I had a good 12 or so hours before I got home to EWR and had a hour trip home from there...so I accidently stood on the left. Some guy and his friend went to me, "You know, you have to stand on the right" and the other goes, "Yeah, it's so hard seeing there's signs everywhere." I kept quiet, knowing it was my fault...but I really did want to tell him why I missed the sign.  Smile
 
RayPettit
Posts: 602
Joined: Sun May 26, 2002 9:04 pm

RE: Tourist Etiquette In Europe

Fri Sep 27, 2002 4:52 am

Cerulean,

A lot of people have already said that you should go beyond London and the other tourist haunts, and I couldn't agree more. One thing is to consider staying outside of London, and if you want some clubbing etc., don't despair, what do you think people in my neighbourhood do - go by train of course - we're only 30 min by train and they're every 15 mins! If your unfamiliar with Europe, we have a few more trains - there are actually more that serve the remote parts of Scotland than there are between Seattle and its neighbouring cities! Having said that, we think our trains in the UK are [email protected] and if you travel to Germany Switzerland Holland and so on, you'll know why!

Another thing, if you go to Scotland, Wales or Newcastle you may well encounter some accents you can't make head or tail of. Don't despair as that's the charm of the UK! In fact, that's the charm of Europe - its not nearly as uniform as the US.

Sure, go to some tourist places, but put one day aside to go exploring blind on a train or bus and see what turns up!

Perhaps we'll hear from you again nearer the time once you have more of an idea what you want to see over here

Have a great trip

Ray

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