Your first trip to Europe (or anywhere abroad, for that matter) is a transformative experience, often defying and exceeding your expectations at the same time. Expectations such as the ideas that as an American, you will stick out like a sore thumb (probably true) and that you are unwelcome (probably false). “Contrary to popular belief, most Europeans are super-friendly to tourists,” Raul H. told us when we asked our fans what surprised them the most about traveling to Europe. Check out some more of our favorite observations.
1. “The sheer variety inside such a small space. Pick 4 countries, and you’ll have 4 different experiences.” — Travelsewhere
2. “How friendly the people are. Take time to talk to them, and they’ll also help you out if you are lost!” — Austin W.
3. “They do not use top sheets on their beds. Also, I noticed they do not use wash cloths.” — Donna D.
4. “How good beer and wine really can taste when not shipped overseas.” — Timothy H.
5. “Watching women riding bikes in skirts on cobblestone streets while smoking and talking on their cell phones.” — Pamm P.
6. “I was surprised by how there are few and far between trash bins. I think I walked around London holding a paper cup for an hour before I found a proper bin to throw it away in.” — Eve M.
7. How easy it is to get around … the entire continent! Especially “the metro, train and bus systems and that everyone WALKS.” — Karen R.
8. “The completed castles. We are (so) used to seeing ruins that we forget these were homes. It’s great to see where/how they lived.” — Reina M.
9. “You had to pay to go to the bathroom.” — Louise K.
10. “How safe I felt walking around different cities, from Madrid to Moscow, compared to walking around cities in America.” — Jim S.
11. “I was surprised by how ancient it was. I was amazed by the architecture.” — Nancy R.
12. “I was amazed by how many people spoke 2 or 3 languages. I wish foreign-language classes were emphasized more in the US.” — Sigrid W.