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Comments on: Win a Eurail Select Pass by Telling us about your European “Culture Shock” http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest Travel Tips & Inspiration from Rail Europe Mon, 30 Nov 2015 22:54:10 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 By: web_feedback http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-6790 Fri, 17 Feb 2012 19:35:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-6790 Fun story! We’ve heard quite a few stories of traveler being surprised by European holidays or unexpected business hours. Feel free to enter your story in our contest for a chance to win a Eurail Select pass. You can enter from our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/raileurope

By: Malou http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-6711 Thu, 16 Feb 2012 08:19:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-6711 I got a scholarship from the Dutch government in 1984. One of the students was with me and we arrived from the Philippines to Rotterdam, The Netherlands on a Saturday. The following day, Sunday, we planned to eat out for lunch since the hotel only serves continental breakfast. We walked (it was winter, my boots was not for snow) all over Rotterdam and to our suprise all restaurants were closed, not vending machines, no stores, the shopping center was closed. We were so tired, cold and so hungry, we sat in park bench near a lake and saw the pigeons. My friend said, I should catch a pigeon and we could cook it in the kitchen of the hotel. Luckily I brought crackers or biscuits to tide us to the following day. There was no dinner at the hotel, Sunday was their day off.  My Indonesian classmate went by herself to Dusseldorf to shop on a Saturday. She arrived by train from Rotterdam after lunch. She almost cried, all stores were closed.  They were only open half day on Saturdays and the whole day on Sundas.

By: Phaedra http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-6300 Thu, 02 Feb 2012 16:53:13 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-6300 The funny part is that we still hear a lot about the hole in the floor (Turkish) toilets. However, luckily tourists are coming across them less frequently.
Happy Travels (hopefully with proper toilets :-))

By: Beavis http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-6280 Wed, 01 Feb 2012 11:30:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-6280 yeh this has changed obviously!

By: Joel Slaff http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5492 Sun, 04 Dec 2011 22:15:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5492 One of my favorite memories in my month abroad in France happened at a simple café. 

I was in Lille, France, on a month-long study abroad sojourn through my college (Juniata College) and the University Catholique de Lille (where I will be returning Sept. 2012 for an
entire academic year abroad). 

At the café, I had just ordered a simple sandwich.

Ordering the sandwich was not the issue; it’s what happened when I got the
sandwich. The “garçon” gave me my sandwich, and I said, “Merci beaucoup!”

Well, at least, I thought I did. 

I pronounced it “Merci beau-cul,” which, in French, means, “Thank you, nice ass.” The way “Merci beaucoup” is supposed to be pronounced is, “Merci beau-cooo.” Basically, the simple sound of “cul” vs. “coup” changed the meaning from “very much” to “nice ass.” The garçon giggled, knowing I was American and trying my best. He then proceeded to bend over and showed me his butt in front of everyone on the street.

Now realize, I’ve been taking French for eight years! I should know simple mistakes like this.
Right then and there, I realized that I had been mispronouncing “merci beaucoup” for two weeks straight. I mean, one of the biggest mistakes I understood was the difference
between the two verbs for “to take.” And if you mix that up, in French, it is the difference between “taking someone to a store” and “‘TAKING’ someone to a store” (wink wink sign ’em all sign ’em all). 

Well, after the garçon’s little peep show, all of the awkward memories I had with the “beaucoup” and “beau-cul” phrase suddenly flashed before my eyes. I realized that whenever I would say that phrase to my classmates or the interns and professors, they would always laugh. I thought it was a nice gesture, such as, “Aww, thanks! You’re welcome!” Not, “well, you’re an idiot, but at least you’re trying. It’s still funny, though.”

I should be thankful to that waiter; he made me realize one of the biggest rookie mistakes I could make, the hard way. I got the point, and have yet to say it like that since.

He still got no tip.

By: Trent Sawyer http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5482 Sun, 04 Dec 2011 09:44:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5482 I was sitting in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam, doing what you do in a coffeeshop in Amsterdam. I was by myself on a 7 week backpacking adventure (using my Rail Europe pass) through Europe. The coffeeshop was tri level. I was on the top level and it was only me and 2 other guys that were sitting together. I didn’t pay much attention to them at first. I happen to glance over while they were passing one of ‘what you do in a coffeeshop in amsterdam’ to each other……the thing that caught my eye was the one guy had no arms and was passing with his toes. His friend just took it and passed it back to his friends toes. I found the situation quite mesmerizing. But the best thing happened when they went to leave. The one friend put the other friends jacket on him, zipped it up, and put his hood on his head for him. I just found the whole situation to be very humanizing. If everybody had a friend like that I think we would all be better off. That is one of my most memorable moments of my trip. Europe is great….hope to go back soon. 😉 Thanks Rail Europe for making it easy and fun to travel Europe! 😉 

By: ColoradoKat http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5456 Sat, 03 Dec 2011 02:11:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5456 Words alone will not be able to properly communicate the Parisian experience that my best friend and I had, but here goes…  On the first trip to Europe for either of us, we flew into London.  We had booked a 2-night fully accompanied tour from London to Paris, and after that we would be going on to Wales and Scotland.  The tour company made the unfortunate decision to cancel our group tour on the very night before we were leaving for Europe.  We now had a two day gap in our plans, as well as two nights of paid hotel in Paris.  Being a couple of pure idiots, we decided we would jump on the Eurostar and rent a car in Paris, all by ourselves.  It sounds so easy, right?  We’ve done stuff like this when we went to LA together, for example – changed plans without encountering any disaster.  So we called Eurostar from our London hotel room, booked our two night trip to Paris, and away we went.  Upon arriving at Gare du Nord, we rented a car.  Since our hotel was in close proximity to the Eiffel Tower, we expected nothing less than to be momentarily sipping wine while gazing at that lovely, pointed structure.  We signed all the necessary paperwork to rent the vehicle and headed to the rental car lot.  We were assigned a vehicle number, and doggone, we found every number between one and a thousand in that parking lot except the number we were assigned.  We weaved our way through all of the vehicles several times, and decided we were going to drag our considerable collection of luggage back into the station to ask for help with finding the vehicle when two young studs pulled up in a black car with dark windows.  This was an underground garage, mind you, so not well lit.  These leather clad fellows, approximately the ages of Bonnie and my youngest sons, struck up a benign conversation with us.  My friend and I were somewhat agitated by being stumped in the earliest stages of our trip, and explained to these mysterious boys that we could not find our rental car.  Oddly, they offered to help us look.  We wondered what could possibly be up with these two!?  We all traced the same steps Bonnie and I had already taken numerous times, with the same results – duh!  We could not find the car.  So these young chaps offered to take Bonnie and me on a sightseeing tour of Paris – would we like to see the Moulin Rouge?  They did not understand the urgency we were now feeling to find our vehicle, and we did not understand their interest in us.  Finally we decided that I would sit on the luggage while Bonnie went in to fetch a rental car worker.  After what seemed like days the two emerged, and within about three hundred seconds, the worker had located our car.  We bid our first Parisian acquaintances farewell, tossed our bags in the car, and peeled out.  We came to a screeching halt in approximately 100 yards when we encountered an orange and white striped arm-like device, which prohibited us from leaving the garage.  We looked for all of the familiar gadgets to lift the arm, like a box we could pull a parking ticket from – things like that.  The garage exit was on a sharp incline, and Bonnie was driving a stick shift for the first time in over two decades.  Another plan was formed – Bonnie would stay in the driver’s seat and keep the vehicle from rolling backwards into our exuberant would-be tour guides, and I would jump out and look for possible reasons that the arm would not lift and we could not exit the garage.  To this day I have no recollection of how we finally sprung the contraption, but finally the two-toned arm lifted and we were free to roam about the city!  As I stated earlier, we were going up a steep hill to exit the garage so Bonnie was giving it some gas, and just as the nose of the car emerged into daylight – boom – just like that – a totally decked out hooker strolled in front of the car and appeared completely nonplussed that she was almost smooshed by our vehicle.  I shrieked, Bonnie swore.  And viola – we were on the streets of Paris!  We landed immediately smack dab in the middle of a traffic jam, which in itself is a non-event.  Combined with the fact that we had no idea where Avenue Duquesne (hotel) was in relation to Gare Du Nord, no idea what street we were on, had absolutely no idea how to even locate a street sign, and no forewarning that people in Paris have no problem with stepping directly in the path of a moving vehicle, we were becoming a little tense.  I believe I was the most tense of the two as I had offered to be the navigator, a role I have uber-successfully taken on many times.  As Bonnie is asking, now quite loudly, which way to turn, my head is turning and my eyes are darting, trying to figure out even one clue about where we should go.  Fumbling with the map, I look frantically for a street that I can identify.  We can fast forward the story here by about 60 minutes, as the exact same activity continued for roughly that long.  After going through infinite roundabouts, negotiating malevolent Kamikaze pedestrians, driving down slummy looking streets and up sparkling tree-lined avenues, we spotted it – the Eiffel Tower!!  People that have not been to Paris do not believe that you can’t see the Eiffel Tower from every square inch of the city; I did not believe that before I experienced it first hand.  Perhaps we had even gone the opposite way from the Eiffel Tower and completely left the city limits of Paris during that wretched hour – we still have no idea where we had been.  Along the way, we had finally discovered that names of streets were located on actual buildings, although we still couldn’t match any streets we encountered in person with their counterparts on the map.  With the Eiffel Tower in sight, we parked the car.  Frankly we were nervous about approaching Parisians – with us speaking only English – admitting we were lost.  Nonetheless, that is exactly what we did.  We met many helpful and kind people that day, even though as we followed everyone’s directions, we became lost while walking!!!  By nature I am a nervous person so this is approximately when I began to cry.  Bonnie, a lover of adventure, was baffled by my reaction.  We stated to bicker… but we’ve been best friends since the 1970’s so we got back to the business of finding our misplaced, parked vehicle!!  Finally we found the car along with a police officer who drew us a map to Avenue Duquesne.  Both very weary by this time, we walked into the hotel.  I startled our hotel clerk with a fresh batch of hard-earned sobs.  At this point everything instantaneously becomes enchanting.  We had a few drinks and walked to the Eiffel tower, then argued about which way to go to get back to the hotel.  We went left and we went then right, and walked around the beautiful city of lights that night.  I lived every Parisian dream I had ever known.  Our hotel was clean and comfy and the next day we went to Disneyland Paris.  We rode exactly three rides and then got food poisoning from a meal that cost us a small fortune.  Ooh, we were so sick and that permeating nausea just would not leave us.  Finally it was time to head back to London on the Eurostar, and continue to our other appointed locations.  We trekked to Gare du Nord and could not figure out how to get that same dumb orange and white arm to lift so we could this time enter the parking garage.  We are now seasoned pros at dealing with monumental irritation, so merely parked the rental car in a parking place on a surrounding public street.  We returned the keys to the rental car desk and prepared to board the train.  A Eurostar employee then pointed out that our return date on the tickets was for TOMORROW…  Friends, I am going to end this story right here because after the brouhaha over the ticketing issue, the remainder of the trip was fairly serene and completely lovely.  Thank you for sharing my European adventure.

By: Dbe741 http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5372 Tue, 29 Nov 2011 23:40:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5372  Traveling in Munich we were struggling with the language while ordering in a restaurant.  I decided to try a meat platter thinking it would be similar to American cuisine. In the middle of my platter was a spread I assumed was butter.  I spread it on my bread only to discover it was lard.  Still remember feeling that on my teeth after I took a big bite.

By: Judy Dixon Gabaldon http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5307 Sun, 27 Nov 2011 19:32:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5307 I don’t know if this qualifies, since I lived in Europe and traveled by train years and years ago (1959-1963).  I wonder if this situation even still exists.  But I remember the ladies’ bathrooms were often nothing more than holes in the floor, that you had to squat over.  Also, at the time, if you stayed in a pension, the bathroom was down the hall, but they did have a large bowl and a pitcher to use to wash your face, etc.

By: Rossdog1024 http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5298 Sun, 27 Nov 2011 06:12:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5298 great entry!

By: Ctamburrino http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5124 Thu, 17 Nov 2011 20:11:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5124 When I rode my first double decker bus in Berlin we rode under an overpass and I ducked!  I thought we were going to hit.  I love riding on the top now and seeing everything from a new perspective!

By: Phaedra http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5123 Thu, 17 Nov 2011 19:24:10 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5123 Hi Ivy,

Wow! Please make sure to enter the contest, your post is amazing. Contest link: http://www.facebook.com/raileurope?v=app_284464858243049
Also, remember to share your entry with your Facebook friends, so they can vote for you.

I enjoyed reading this.

Good luck!

By: Ivy611 http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5122 Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:56:00 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5122 1.  There is no dust, trash and little or no roadkill on the roads.  But watch out for Badgers in Wales.
2.  You “go” on yellow.  The traffic lights go green, yellow red… then yellow, then green.
3.  They have cameras EVERYWHERE.
You WILL be charged a congestion charge in London.  All traffic tickets
will be charged to the credit card you used to rent your car.  Then the
car rental company will pass that on to you, adding their own hefty fee
onto that, and finally mail a copy of your tickets to your home.
5.  Quaint rock walls along the side of the road are not quaint when the lane is narrow and there are on-coming cars.
6.  Use the small parking areas every mile or so, to let the other cars pass you.
7.  Tesco is their idea of a Wal-Mart.
8.  Costa is their version of a Starbucks.
9.  Their macchiato’s are not the same as what I get at Starbucks.
10.  They don’t have many “rubbish bins”… something about terrorists hiding explosives in them.
11.  GPS does not understand the streets in Galashiels, Scotland.
12.  People do not talk to you on the “tube” aka the “underground” aka the rail or subway.
13.  The ICE trains are excellent.  Fast and quiet with friendly people.
The overnight trains, especially the 6 passenger couchettes, are
terrible.  They will hook trains together waking you up and your
room-mate may get motion sickness.  Also, there is no where to sit
outside the sleeping compartment.
15.  You will meet people from EVERYWHERE.
16.  You may get charged for each condiment on the Continent… I did.  Mustard for my brat and butter for my croissant.
17.  It usually costs a Pound ($1.65) for every bottle of water.  Mineral, still or sparkling.
18.  Bangers or sausages to us, taste like Vienna Sausages just with a good casing.
19.  They eat brown sauce… this is wrapped individually like ketchup.  It’s basically Worchester sauce.
20.  Their rashers, our bacon, is not strips but thicker, meatier, less salty, less smoked and more like Canadian bacon.
21.  They love their soccer.. aka Premier League Football.
22.  They do not have dented, broken cars on the road.  I don’t know where they hide them.
Use the lockers at the train stations to explore the continent,
backpack-free.  As long as you’re coming back!  It’s well worth the Euro
or two.
24.  They don’t have a lot of air conditioning or swimming pools.
25.  The windows on the Continent usually tilt out at the top with no screens.
26.  One of the cheaper hotels to stay at is the Travelodge. 
The people of Great Britain do not like surprises on their bill.  There
is a VAT, value added tax, but it’s included in the total, not after.
28.  You do not need to tip anywhere, except maybe round up to the nearest Pound or Euro for a taxi driver.
29.  “Family rooms”, aka rooms for more than 2 people, are hard to find.
30.  You do not wait to be served at a Pub… YOU go to the bar and order.  You will be served when the meal is ready.
31.  It is extremely hard to find a self-serve laundromat.
32.  Pret A Manger is a chain sandwich shop; Sainsbury’s is a chain grocery store.
33.  If you don’t speak, the Germans will think you’re German. (Tip: this only works for Caucasians.)
34.  There is a lot of grafitti around the train tracks in Belgium and North-to-Mid Germany.
35.  They paint different colored marks on sheep for brands in Great Britain.
36.  They grow fields and fields full of hops in Germany.
37.  Take an umbrella, even if you don’t think you’ll need it, you’ll need it.
38.  You won’t get ice usually in anything unless you ask for it.  Ice is rare.
39.  Hardly anyone wears a hat…especially ball caps.
40.  No one wears shorts except hard-core bicyclist.
41.  You will have
to explain that Justin Bieber and the “Real Housewives” are not popular
to anyone in America over 9, or at least with an IQ over 9.
42.  I
didn’t notice any bugs in Brussels, Germany, England, Paris, lower
Scotland or Wales–though a Welshwoman did say there were a lot of
“mozzies” in the Scottish highlands, but there weren’t any in the
“Scottish Borders” that I noticed.

By: Phaedra http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5120 Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:28:05 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5120 Hi Bob,

That’s funny and I didn’t know that they served beer at fast food restaurants. It wouldn’t surprise me if they served wine, but beer is surprising. Also, good for you, for not going to fast food restaurants while in Paris! You should experience the full French dinning experience.

I encourage you to enter the contest and then share your entry with your friends for votes. Here is the contest link: http://www.facebook.com/raileurope?v=app_284464858243049

Good luck!

By: Phaedra http://blog.raileurope.com/5838-win-eurail-select-pass-rail-europe-contest#comment-5119 Thu, 17 Nov 2011 18:20:51 +0000 http://blog.raileurope.com/?p=5838#comment-5119 Hi Lawrence,

That is a wonderful experience! I saw that you entered the contest. Good luck!

Please remember to encourage your friends to vote for you because the entry with the most votes wins the Eurail Select Pass!