Back for another installment of honeymoon recaps :). I hope you guys aren’t too sick of hearing about it yet. I’ve still got a few ideas I’m floating around for posts, so stay tuned!
Incase you’ve missed them, check out my previous recaps
Today I’m recapping my experience with European, specifically Austrian, culture.
I’ve got to say, while 2 weeks away remind you what you love back home, there will always be a draw inside of me towards European culture. A few specific elements about the culture that stand out for me:
- food culture
- transportation (public and by foot)
Something that you will likely hear about when speaking to Europeans while traveling is the idea of “Holiday.”
Here in the States, most of us adults working full time (or even part time) fight to take vacation. Then, when we are able to take vacation, we’re lucky to get more than a long weekend. Hardly enough time to shut off your brain and relax slowly into vacation mode.
This is not the way in Europe. In the culture it is very normal that people take 2+ week vacations twice a year, called Holiday. Travel like this is obviously something easy to take advantage of in Europe where there are SO many unique countries and cultures just a train ride away. Let me tell you, they’ve got the right idea.
I know, all of us American’s can agree that this sounds WONDERFUL — but I’m here to speak to how beneficial a 2 week holiday really is to one’s mindset. For someone as high strung as myself, the 2 weeks gave me enough time to really not only emerge myself in a new culture, but also to feel entirely relaxed. The freedom on mind that I was provided is priceless (and trust me on that, I took the two weeks unpaid from work because I don’t have the vacation time. . . hello).
Had I not gotten sick coming home, I am confident that I was on my way to coming home recharged, inspired, and excited to tackle new challenges in my own “everyday.” The way I see it, our “live to work” mentality really takes away from a lot of our own creative and independent possibilities. The two week “holiday” did amazing things for my mindset, and it’s something I just wish we could all take advantage of.
I know most people think of bread when they think of European cuisine and food, right? Well, I’ll be the first to admit that it is plentiful, and WONDERFUL. The option of having fresh baked bread delivered to our door was actually a requirement for Zach in searching for our apartment because it is just such a key element to the experience.
BUT, there is so much more to European food culture.
Just like we do in the States, Zach and I went grocery shopping often during our 2 week stay in Europe (I love a good grocery store, I’m weird I know). BUT, I really found that we WERENT weird in this culture.
European grocery stores aren’t stocked with isles and isles of processed foods. First, the ones we’ve visited are not NEARLY as large as what you’d find in the states, so there won’t be as many options. No, you’re not going to have an entire isle dedicated to chips. Now, that isn’t saying that they don’t have chips — but that’s not the bulk of the store.
Considering the lack of processed food, you can figure that people would just have to shop more (food isn’t going to last), and that’s just what you do. While many of our food labels were in German, it wasn’t hard to figure out nutrition facts (most foods were figured by 100 gram portions). And let’s be honest, here in America we are really the only culture with things like trans fats . . . so you don’t even have to worry about that.
Foods change. The meat options weren’t the same day to day, and neither were much of any of the produce/bread. I liked this — it made me feel like everything was fresh because I knew it wasn’t there yesterday or last week. Sure, maybe things run out, but you know what you’re getting is good.
Generally, I don’t mind grocery shopping more often, so I felt totally comfortable and appreciated this element of the culture.
Eating out seemed to me to be something that people just do more often in Europe than they do in the States. Now, I want to preface that with I don’t mean eating out like Panera or McDonalds. I mean the family/friends get together and go out to enjoy a meal. . . and likely a couple bottles of wine or beer.
Resturants were plentiful and menus were awesome. Something you will learn quickly in Europe as an American: They don’t tip. Waiters are given a much better base pay than here in the US, so it just isn’t built into their checks. Many of our receipts didn’t even have a tip line!
Most of our waiters spoke English, so we didn’t have much of a problem with language barriers, even in the smaller towns. . . but this may be more challenging with other languages. Generally speaking, the wait staffs were always VERY attentive and never once rushed us out of our seats. When people are out to eat, they really are out to enjoy more than their meal. It’s about the company and the experience just as much as the food, which I LOVED.
I could go on and on about food, you all know that. . . so I’ll stop there. But feel free to reach out to me if you have anymore specific questions about food 🙂
As I mentioned earlier, Europeans are on the move. With so much just a train ride away, public transportation is convenient, nice, reasonably priced and prevalent! It really seems to be like public transportation is just a part of the culture!
Zach and I spent two weeks in Europe without a car, and had absolutely zero problem. Even staying in a small town like St Anton, there was an HB (train station) very accessible and train attendants that are full of knowledge to get you wherever you need to go!
Even flights within the EU seem to be very reasonably priced . . . really I just need to move out there dang it. The ability op a train or plane to a totally different culture for a good price makes even weekend travel accessible! It also just seemingly made travel and transportation a part of their day-to-day routine, which is A-OK by me.
And that, my friends, are just a few of the MANY elements of European culture that I continue to fall in love with every time I visit. I know I’ve got quite a few European friends on here, please feel free to chime in!