5 Things US Travelers are Surprised Of when Coming to Europe for the First Time


What do you expect when crossing the ocean for the first time? Surprisingly old buildings, overpriced (and extremely strong) coffee, unhelpful French (this is one of their legendary traits) and overly friendly Italians, these are all among them – and most of the times you will be right.

Still, there are enough surprising things you’ll have the occasion to be pleased (or horrified) by when you first cross the ocean and set foot on the cradle of the Western civilization – different habits and traditions, different values, and different laws. Like the ones below.

1. People smoke

Europe has a surprisingly high number of smokers. The further east you go, the more smokers you’ll encounter. The average number of cigarettes smoked per year grows from up to 499 in the UK and Ireland to up to 2,000 in the former communist countries, and exceeds 2,000 in countries like Russia, China, and South Korea.

Europeans smoke in most public places, even if there are other people eating in the area. Be prepared.

2. People gamble (anywhere)

Europe doesn’t have such gambling destinations like Atlantic City, Reno, or even Las Vegas. What it has, in turn, is online gambling, allowing people to play their favorite games literally anywhere. And it’s legal, too – anyone over the age of 18 can legally register a real money account at the Euro Palace, make a real money deposit, and play.

Locals can play at the Euro Palace from home, from their smartphones, or virtually any device with a web browser – yes, even consoles. The Euro Palace is a relatively recent addition to the world of online gambling, with amazing games and great bonuses, and a surprisingly good reputation. While it doesn’t beat Vegas – it doesn’t have clubs and shows and restaurants – the Euro Palace is a great way to play casually – as most Europeans do.

3. 18-year-olds drink

18 is the magic number in Europe. At 18, a European youngster can legally drink, smoke, drive, vote, and get married.

4. Food is cheap, travel is expensive

Well, not always, of course. Tourist spots are usually expensive, but outside the usual tourist circuit, you’ll be able to eat well for a surprisingly low price. This is especially true in Eastern Europe: you’ll find expensive restaurants next to eateries where you can get a decent three-course meal for as low as $3.

Traveling by train is rather expensive in Europe. Sometimes it’s much more expensive than flying. If you don’t use a discount card, you may spend a lot on train fare, especially between countries.

5. Asian food is bad

Wherever you go in Europe, make sure to avoid Asian restaurants. Asian food is not a way of life here, but a trend, and it doesn’t really have a tradition. For those of you used to a certain quality avoid trying the same dishes in Europe – or else you’ll be disappoint

Andy Higgs
Andy Higgs

I know what it's like to go from being a crazy backpacker without a care in the world, via being a vaguely sensible parent to being an adventurer once more. In other words, evolving into a Grown-up Traveller.

Like everyone else, I love to travel, have visited a lot of countries and all that but my big thing is Africa.

I also own and run The Grown-up Travel Company as a travel designer creating personalised African itineraries for experienced adventurers

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