So you want to spend your summer vacation in Europe?
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How splendid! A summer vacation in Europe will be a fabulous experience that you’ll cherish for years. Travelers from the United Kingdom, Canada, United States, and Australia visit Europe each tourist season without incident; however, some visitors have problems adjusting to the subtle differences between Europe and their homes. This guide aims to assist travelers in enjoying their time in Europe without experiencing confusion or embarrassment.
This is Gruyère, a hard, yellow Swiss cheese with a sweet yet slightly salty essence. Despite being a hard cheese, Gruyère pairs best with a white wine due to its strong flavor. Many first-time visitors to Europe have experienced mild humiliation after being corrected about their choice of wine while eating Gruyère, especially while being received by dignitaries or royalty.
This is an esplanade, an open area usually situated next to a river or other body of water. An esplanade is meant for recreational walking: therefore, Europeans may become annoyed when large groups of travelers congregate on an esplanade to talk loudly and obstruct the passage of others. If your physical heft prevents you from keeping up with the brisk pace of European walkers on an esplanade, it is appreciated if you make your way to the side so that fellow pedestrians are not delayed.
This is a bidet, found frequently in hotel rooms across Europe. The bidet is designed for the purpose of washing one’s genitals, buttocks, and anus: it is not a water fountain, as many new travelers to Europe mistake it for. Because the confusion can be overwhelming, it is advised that European vacationers simply avoid use of the bidet so as to minimize the possibility of an embarrassing situation ruining an otherwise enjoyable evening.
This is a street, found nearly everywhere in Europe. Take note of its conspicuous lack of urinal cakes or exposed plumbing — this is because a street is not a toilet, and it is therefore not a suitable place to urinate. First-time visitors to Europe have a hard time distinguishing between the two, so here is a tip for making the distinction: if you are surrounded by other people, particularly other people of the opposite sex, wherever you’re standing is not an appropriate place to expose your genitalia and urinate.
This is a trash can. Although it may go by different names in some European countries (for example, poubelle in France, der Mülleimer in Germany), the general design and function is universal. A trash can is not a vending machine or open-air buffet; visitors to Europe should avoid eating anything out of a trash can, no matter how delectable, enticing, or hygienic that item may look. Europeans use the following rule when deciding what to eat: if someone else has already eaten it and subsequently thrown it in the garbage, it is not befitting of human consumption.
This is a woman. Take note of the fact that she is not wearing a short skirt, large hoop earrings, or anything imprinted with a zebra or leopard-skin pattern. This means that she is probably not a prostitute, and therefore approaching her with a solicitation of sex would be rude.
This is a fountain, and it is a commonplace feature of almost all European cities. Although water emanates from a fountain — sometimes in solid streams — it is not a shower. The easiest way to spot the difference is to recognize that nearly all fountains are found in public spaces, not bathrooms or locker rooms. Should you mistake a fountain for a shower, one indication that you’re behaving in bad form will be the aghast looks on the faces of passer-bys as they stand witness to your pasty, lard-saddled body cleaning itself.
This is dirt. It can be found everywhere on Earth, although the dirt found in Europe is generally cleaner and weighs less than dirt found elsewhere. Despite containing organic materials, it is not an exfoliating salve or cleaning solution, and visitors to Europe should abstain from diving into it and rubbing it all over their bodies as they are sometimes prone to do. Visitors to Europe are advised to imitate the civility of Europeans while on vacation as opposed to reverting to the more animalistic demeanor they exhibit at home.
This guide has hopefully encouraged you to spend your summer vacation in Europe — albeit with the measured sophistication of a European. If these rules seem overly complicated, first-time vacationers to Europe can avoid unnecessary embarrassment by keeping just a few simple pointers in mind: Never speak to anyone, especially not in English; avoid public spaces during daylight; do not look anyone in the eyes; and, most importantly, have fun!