Steves’ Pet Peeves in Europe

In the very early days of our tour company, a group once made a theme of mimicking me for saying “This is reeeeely great” (like the fat dork in Animal House) every time I’d park the 9-seater mini-bus at a new sight. I guess twenty years of trying to make people happy on your tours turns you into an almost annoyingly positive cheer leader for happy travels.

While a key to happy travels certainly is a positive attitude, I do have my pet peeves while traveling in Europe. Just between you and me, here are a few things that I don’t find reeeely great:

Museums that show photocopies of documents and photos giving you the sensation of reading a book standing up while walking from page to page (as I just tried to enjoy in a Mozart museum in Salzburg today).

Americans who talk twice as loud as anyone else in a restaurant or public place in Europe and carry on oblivious to the peace they are destroying.

Concerts that charge $50 for a seat and then $2 for a program so you know who and what you’re listening to.

Americans who complain about heat and no air-con (when Europeans believe the typical person from our southwest consumes more energy to stay cool in the summer than arctic Norwegians do to get warm in the winter).

Museums that post “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” signs in English, but provide no English descriptions of their exhibits (when half their paying public speaks English either as a first or second language and doesn’t understand the displays).

Hotels that serve orange drink rather than orange juice and skimp on light bulb wattage to save a few bucks.

Over-earnest British people (especially on British Air) apologizing for something more than once and saying mind your head every time you near a low doorway.

People at security and check-in lines who recognize me from my guidebooks and TV show…and then say, “Can I see your ID?”

Seeing twice as many than necessary highly-trained TSA professionals (2) guarding each exit corridor at US airports.

People who tell me “I love your show on the Travel Channel.”

Sweating all night in hotels that put rubber mats under the sheets to protect mattresses from getting stained.

The rumble of a herd of rolling suitcases crossing a tranquil cobbled village in the evening.

Getting one meal ahead of my needs when surrounded by a cruel abundance of fine food and not being hungry for days.

Sandwiches at places like airport and train station kiosks that are deceptively packed with lots of good stuff spilling over the bread crusts and almost nothing inside.

So there…I just had to get that off my chest.

Comments

63 Replies to “Steves’ Pet Peeves in Europe”

  1. Pet peeve, the americans who think talking louder will make someone fess up to speaking English. I ran into this at a small metro station in Paris. They were shouting at this man “are you sure you don’t speak Englsh?”. After watching me buy my ticket, in very poor French, they asked me if I spoke English? I responded in my best Valley girl “For sure”. And proceeded help them buy tickets. They then were obviously troubling over the metro map, as I heard my metro coming…enough of a good deed for these obnoxious peoople for one day. I headed off to Versailles!

  2. Rick,

    I’m getting a kick out of your Euro-blog. My wife and I travel to Europe each summer for several weeks, and we get much mileage out of your travel guides (dog-eared would be an understatement). We, too, have some travel-related pet peeves:

    -Rude, inconsiderate train travelers who spread out their too extensive luggage collection either on a seat or in front of a seat, thus making it impossible for a fellow traveler to to rest his tired “dogs.”

    -What, no shower curtain? Too often upon exiting the shower I feel like my feet yearn for a pair of Wellies.

    -Hertz Car Rental has a bad habit of offering very attractive introductory rates, only to hammer you at the back end with extra or hidden charges, even with the collision waiver. What a sour way of concluding your holidays!

    Whew, we feel better already.

  3. Dear Rick,
    I think all your readers know that you love what you do, so what’s the best and worst of a typical day? How do you divide your time between work and play during the day(if there is a divide)? How much time do you spend researching new places, re-checking old places, writing, filming, etc. What constitutes “FUN” for Rick in Europe.

    Thanks………..

  4. Rick

    Absolutely right – your complaints are justified.

    We know and adjust to the expectations of visitors from the USA as they are right (no I mean it). By we I mean our superb team at SuperbGreece.com !

    Anyone who has travelled in the USA, and even more so anyone who has lived there, soon realizes that the phrase “why not?” makes much more sense than “what can we do about it?”. The first is the USA-born, the second the No-can-do European attitude.

    Steeped in History, mired in a cultural fog, reluctant to have things better, addicted to incovenience, the Europeans will one day awaken to a bold and brand new day when they say “gee, now I see what you guys wanted and why everyone was so jealous of you all” !

    In the meantime do feel free to enjoy the quaintness of it all, the romance, the smells, the tastes, the views, the history and well yes….the completely unnecessary inconveniences (while they last!).

  5. I agree with most of what Rick is griping about, except for the roller bags. I would rather hear the roller bags and know that people are trying to experience the parts of the towns and cities Rick’s followers do than to have them not try and stay at home because the backpack is too much for them.

    Something to add to the gripe list: Those who try to enter an elevator/subway/train car before anyone can get out of it!

    I am currently in Hostal Acapulco in Madrid – maybe I’ll see some of you around. Adios!

  6. This is a great list. I would add:

    Buskers and Beggars that respond rudely when you walk past without dropping a coin.

    Washrooms that require you drop in a specific coin to get in without providing any way for someone without the correct coinage to get change.

    Restaurants and Hotels that act like our family of 6 is some sort of anomaly and forcing us to sleep in separate rooms or dine at separate tables. I can’t imagine how families with 5, 6 or 7+ children can go anywhere (even in the US).

    –Still these are all minor things when compared to the wonder of travel.

  7. Rick, loved the gripes section.

    I’d add one thing that happened to me in 2000 when I was in college on a class trip to Strasbourg, France. Our group was filled with very well-behaved American college student travelers, only to meet up with another group filled with those who were not. They treated the pub like it was a sleezy pickup bar in any American college town, yelling and screaming while drunk and getting into fights. They were so obnoxious that a pub owner kicked out all of the Americans for a week!

    One comment, Rick, about your comment about low-wattage lights to save a buck. It seems to contradict your gripe about air conditioning. If everyone cut back 10 watts on every light bulb in their houses, just imagine how much less energy we would be using for such a small sacrifice! So what if there’s a money-saving side effect? But you are right, Sunny Delight or Tang is NOT orange juice.

  8. Jenny Rebecca, I just spent a great few minutes looking over your honeymoon pics (and others) on the web site you show. Great photography, and boy did it bring back memories. I absolutely love Venice, and so many of the sights you photographed seemed just like I was seeing them again during my last visit.

    Rick, I love your blog! And Andy’s! I followed his adventures last year, and I’m sorry he’s so busy he can’t write more frequently this year. For those of us wishing we could also spend three months in Europe each year, it’s great to be able to do so vicariously with the two of you. Keep up the great work.

  9. SO agree about loud Americans… I was eating at a cafe on the main square in Hallstatt last month, first with a group of four Americans at the table behind me, and then with a big group of French people split between the table behind me, mine, and the table in front. The Americans made far more noise than the French! I could hear every.single.word. I suspect these are the same people who worry that wearing sneakers makes them look like tourists – it’s not what you wear, it’s how you behave.

  10. It’s refreshing to see that even Rick has frustrations in Europe. He has said many times that we should let things roll over us or it will detract from our trip. When things happen I remember that suggestion and keep a positive attitude.

    On the other hand poor treatment (short-changing, expecting Extra Tips, rudeness) is not acceptable in Europe or anywhere else.

    Without a doubt, though, the Europeans in the majority are friendly, honest, helpful and nice people. As are the American and other travellers.

    Thanks again Rick for your teaching on travelling as a local.

  11. > People at security and check-in lines who recognize me from my guidebooks
    > and TV show…and then say, “Can I see your ID?”

    Annoying yes, but they probably have to do this as a matter of procedure or they’d be fired.

    > Museums that post “don’t do this” and “don’t do that” signs in English, but
    > provide no English descriptions of their exhibits (when half their paying public
    > speaks English either as a first or second language and doesn’t understand the
    > displays).

    AMEN!

    I’ve also been frustrated by museums that have some guidebooks or other books in English in their gift shops but not others. The Alte Pinakothek in Munch has an English edition of their excellent guidebook, but the Neue Pinakothek and the Pinakothek der Moderne do not. Some of the Mozart exhibits we went to in Salzburg and Vienna did not have giftshop books in English, despite the fact that most of the people touring the musuems were English-speaking.

  12. Pet peeve: Buying the 50 Euro – 3 day boat pass in Venice and then being unable to use it because the workers all went on strike; and having to hire private boats for those 3 days. Frustrating…very frustrating.

  13. Somebody needs to tell the Europeans that it’s OK to put more than 3 ice cubes in a drink…is it that difficult for a modern, first-world country to freeze water.

  14. > Museums that show photocopies of doc*ments and photos
    > giving you the sensation of reading a book standing up while
    > walking from page to page (as I just tried to enjoy in a
    > Mozart museum in Salzburg today).

    At first I thought you were going to say something different…One of my pet peeves about museum exhibits is when they don’t tell you when you are looking at a reproduction or facsimile. When I was in Salzburg and Vienna earlier this year I often saw the same doc*ments and manuscripts in several different exhibits. There is only *one* letter from Leopold Mozart to the Archbishop of Salzburg requesting employment for his son, so the other had to be a copy…the question, of course, is which. The same with klaviers Mozart is said to have written such-and-such a piece on. Museums try to pass off pianos as instruments Mozart (or Beethoven, or whoever) composed on when all they concretely know is the instrument comes from that era. Some integrity is called for.

  15. I soooo agree with you about loud, obnoxious Americans traveling in Europe. My daughter and I were so humiliated on a train in Italy when four tewnty something guys were very loudly and rudely complaining about the food, the lack of ice etc and then went on to give opinions about how Italy should fix it’s economy! I finally said loud enough so the Europeans around us could hear me, “Those guys are what give Americans a bad name.”

  16. Jim, do you have to whine about not getting enough ice cubes in your drink? Just because you are from the first world, does not mean that you have every damn right to be so bratty!!! Ever thought about the rest of the hungry world?

  17. Nice to know that Rick has human responses to irritants. However, despite his being recognized at security checkpoints, some of those places are under video survelliance and the rules probably say “guards will check EVERY ID” no matter how well known the person. After all, there might be a terrorist Rick Steves look-a-like! I learned the hard way to never anticipate a favorable response by security. Hearing the questions while waiting in line (about baggage) when I got there I said, “Yes, yes and no,” without waiting for the questions. The German Security guy sent me to the check everything twice line.

  18. My pet peeve — people on overnight flights who won’t shut up so that other passengers around them can sleep.

    My last trip to Paris I experienced this! Looking back, it was quite humorous, but I was annoyed at the time that everywhere I went at CDG, these same people were there, and still talking. Unbelievably, they were on the same return flight as me, too! At least on the return, they weren’t sitting near me… :-)

  19. pet peeves: #1-i travelled recently with a woman who would not change her U.S. $$ to Euros…always offering a credit card, even at kiosks while buying one roll of film. i ended up paying for her incidentals all the way (which she refunded me when back in U.S.). Her reason for not changing? She “didn’t understand their money”. stupid, reeeeely stupid. #2-americans who cannot possibly conceive that some nations actually are not as criminally wasteful as we, and do not deplete the planet as much as we americans, i.e., air-con in every setting, lower wattage bulbs, smaller food servings, re-cycling, use of canvas bags or re-use of plastic. #3-americans who think the world is “back home”….god i hate that “back home” reference!

  20. SK, Who correlated ice cubes with “the rest of the hungry world”? I fail utterly to see your point. Western Europe (which now covers one heck of a lot of ground) is as modern as the US. What’s wrong with a couple of ice cubes, especially if the Coke or whatever is room temperature? I prefer mine cold, as do most of us (even Europeans). All we’re talking about is their custom of only putting a very few ice cubes in your glass. During a recent trip to the UK, I simply asked for extra ice, and it was cheerfully provided.

  21. Thank you, Travel Wacko. I’m confused by the “hungary world-ice cube” remark also.

    I usually politely ask for more ice…and they bring me 3 more cubes. Once, an Italian waiter served me a single, extra cube on a butter dish.

    You may also find it interesting to know that traveling through some of the poorest regions in Mexico ice was plentiful, as was ice-cold beer.

    It’s no biggie…just a pet-peeve of mine, and I’m sure many others. It ranks right up there with pay-toilets (if you can even find one) and no drinking fountains.

    But that’s what makes traveling a great experience.

  22. “Americans who talk twice as loud as anyone else in a restaurant or public place in Europe and carry on oblivious to the peace they are destroying.”

    Amen.

    I feel beyond fortunate every time that I get to go to Europe and nothing usually gets under my skin except that (and it’s still an easy one to shrug off).

    My only true pet peeve about traveling to Europe is having so little vacation time to spend there.

  23. My #1 pet peeve is American’s who go to Europe (or anywhere outside of the US for that matter) and want it to be just like home … “this food isn’t like what I eat at home”, “there isn’t enough ice”, “we have to WALK there???”, etc, etc, etc… the point of going somewhere outside of your comfort zone is to learn/experience how other people live, OF COURSE it’s not going to be like home, THAT’S THE POINT! :) Just my two cents…

  24. YOU’VE SAID IT !
    Having an “hour glass figure” where my sand is all at my top curve means every airport security person must frisk me and I am sick of it…I think next time I will just raise my blouse and flash them so they can see it is not 2 bombs!

    Agree with your plastic sheet comment, I also hate the 4 inch thick quilts with no cover sheet under it so you can throw the quilt off the bed. In Innsbrook Austria it was 93 degrees,no air cond., no fans, we didn’t sleep all night even after most of us stayed out as long as we could in the square to stay cool, so we all slept in the cool bus the next day.
    One huge complaint+embarassment is watching how Americans dress so sloppy in Europe (even here) wearing baggy sweatshirts + teeshirts, looking like they are going out to wash the car, not to visit Notre Dame Cathedral, it’s one thing to wear something wrinkled from travel,another to wear sweatpants+ tank tops and a scrunchie holding back your hair, dragging a boat-sized tote bag.

  25. So many of your comments are so dead on. Come on people we should try and set a good example, not let the people from other countries say how horrible American travelers can be. Dressing badly, wearing baggy sweats and flip flops, comparing everything to the way it is at “home”. Complaining about every little thing, food, accomondations, customs,and expecially talking loudly and being rude so everyone can hear you are not the impressions we want to leave behind. Enjoy, take the bad with the good. Smile, be polite, say please and thank you, try and leave a place with a good impression of what American travelers can be.

  26. I can tell Rick is from the Northwest with the peeve about the air conditioning. Have to say, if you lived in the southwest where in summer the temperatures are 100+ with humidity making it feel even hotter you’d understand our need for air conditioning – opening a window just doesn’t cut it. And unfortunately it seems the Europeans are experiencing a taste of that hot weather the last few summers as well. Maybe they’ll have to rethink air conditioning! But I have to say in London a couple of years ago on a visit when it was 85 and Londoners were complaining, I thought it was just nice and warm. All in the perspective.

  27. Jim–take care with that ice in Mexico. I’m sure you’ve heard of Montezuma’s Revenge? It comes from the bacteria in the water (and ice frozen from that water). You’ll be safe drinking anything in cans or bottles, just don’t pour it over ice unless you’re absolutely positive that the ice was made from bottled water. Likewise, watch out for salads rinsed in Mexican tap water.

    That’s one definite advantage with Europe: their sanitation and health standards are equal to (and sometimes better than) the US. How many times have you seen trash on the side of the road on a German Autobahn? Not many, I’m sure. Being able to drink the water without fear is a great relief when traveling the Continent and the UK.

  28. Sorry–ran out of space–too long winded.

    I agree also with the rest of you: as we travel, it’s up to each of us to be good, positive representatives of the people who call ourselves Americans. And remember, though each country you visit has been until very recently very homogeneous, we in the States come from every place on the Globe and come in infinite varieties. And, with a few exceptions, folks from all over the world are still making every attempt to become Americans. So, although each American our European hosts encounter will be unique, our “E Pluribus Unum” motto makes each of us an ambassador, for good or for bad.

    It doesn’t hurt to wear a clean, unwrinkled shirt, shave, and use the manners your mother taught you. They’re pretty much universal, and are appreciated. And smile! You’re there because you want to be, and nothing will be “like home” until you pull back into your driveway a couple of weeks later. . .

    That’s MY two cents! (Got change?)

  29. Granted that we live in the first world, but it is also a privelege not a right. Like Rick Steve said, our Earth is home to six billion equally important people. ( excerpt from ” Back door travel philosophy ” ) More than half of the world population could not even afford more than 2 clean ice cubes and go to bed hungry every night. A humble perspective as a world traveler myself.

    I want to quote Rick Steves again, (since this is his blog ) from his travel philosophy article. He said it is humbling to travel and find that people don’t envy Americans. They like us, but with all due respect, they wouldn’t trade passports. Globe-trotting destroys ethnocentricity. It helps you understand and appreciate different cultures, and may I add, languages. He also said, regrettably, there are forces in our society that want you dumbed down for their convenience. I also like the way he put it, ” Travel changes people. It boradens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life…

  30. Like I said, the “ice” thing is no biggie…just a pet peeve of mine. It usually becomes a running joke during the trip. We wait to see how many cubes we’ll get.

    I NEVER complain about it. I sometimes ask for more, but not always.

    Have had Montezuma’s Revenge a few times in my life traveling in Mexico…watch the taco stands, too.

    You think Europeans who travel to the States complain about too much ice in their drinks? I bet they do :)

  31. Our friend from Austria said to order “toast” which is like a grilled cheese sandwich with ham inside.

    Most of the other sandwiches are just 2 slices of bread or a roll with 1 or 2 slices of very thinly sliced lunchmeat inside, maybe a small piece of lettuce and a paper thin slice of tomato and that IS a sandwich….

    Look around before your order to see what other people are eating, and if something looks good, tell the waitperson and point to the food, that you want what they are having at the next table, and ask what it is and how much it costs, remember Rick’s rule about getting food at the counter instead of being served.

    In Venice a bottle of beer served at an outside table in St Mark’s Square cost me $12 (equivilent), if I went inside to the bar it would have been half that.

  32. Jim, in the States I always order fountain drinks “easy on the ice” so I can get some Coke and not all ice. It’s all just a matter of perspective. And, like you, although I might notice the three ice cubes or whatever when in Europe, I normally just go with the flow and smile about it.

    In the UK recently, I ordered a pint of Coke with my meal. I was served a pint glass filled to the brim with ice cold Coke–and no ice. But the Coke was so cold, it stayed that way throughout my meal. No ice was necessary.

    After all, it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round. Traveling lets us experience this for ourselves.

  33. Regarding ice:

    Just had to throw in my nickel’s worth[inflation ;-)]

    Less ice = drink less watered down = more flavor = more satisfying.

  34. The ice cube thing seems to be a common complaint for many. My best solution here? Drink plenty of beer and wine! While in Beilstein this summer, wine country, I was introduced to wine mixed with mineral water. Very Tasty. And, of course, when in Belgium you must have Belgian beer. My favorite is Choufe. It’s hard for me to say that as a good German boy.

    Getting back to the ice conundrum. When I was young, we always visited my mother’s family in Munich, and we could never get ice for our drinks. At that time they had a strong belief that drinking ice cold beverages was bad for your health. Particularly in the heat of the summer. Maybe that believe is still valid for Europeans?

    And, when it comes to getting the full tasty of a good beer, (hmm, am I back on that thread again) you lose the flavor if it is too cold.

    Alright, enough already.
    Jacobsen Travels.com

  35. Arnie

    Love your comments. Beer and wine are a nice way to enjoy our travels – and Europe excels in both when it comes to choice and quality.

    Plus it is a great topic of conversation when meetings locals and a great ICEbreaker.

    Victualian Markt in Munich is great!!
    Love a pint in Ireland (Fresh Guinness of course).

  36. Since we are on the subject of annoying loud Americans, let’s not forget about rude tourist in general. My wife and I went to Ireland on our honey moon in 2003, just as my wife was about to sit down with her cold Guinness in the Gravity bar a lady (European), pulled the chair right out from under my wife for one of her 4 kids. Aside from the fact my wife fell to the floor, she almost spilled here Guinness. I was just in London at Hampton Court, and a European couple was shadowing me as we toured the palace, just back up and wait a second, and you can see it next. I finally just let them pass.

    It seems as soon as folks go on holiday they believe the world revolves solely around them, and no one else.

    And as one person mentioned earlier, if you let me off the train/elevator/bus first, it will be much easier for you to get on. There should be a sign, “Mind the passengers exiting the train”

    And don’t get me wrong, I love europeans, that’s why I travel to europe.

  37. Another comment on ice: when I was a civilian working with the U.S. Navy some years ago, I was assigned for a time to a Royal Navy destroyer. Her Majesty’s Ships are “wet” ships, meaning alcoholic beverages are available to the officers and crew. I learned to drink “warm” (i.e. room temperature) beer with the Brits, and even though I enjoy a cold beverage on a hot day, I still keep some beer in the pantry to drink the “real” way.

  38. Daniel…thankfully you didn’t lose any of the Guinness. Now that would have been a disaster :)

  39. I find ice an issue on airplanes too.My gripe, I think airline seats should be locked in the upright position, goes for tour buses too.

  40. I second Carol….nothing worse than trying to eat and having the airline seat in front of you in your lap rather than your meal. Also seatmates who always assume that the armrest is THEIRS, not to be shared. (Usually men, for some reason….)

    Also, TSA employees who now make everyone take off their shoes regardless of how flat the soles. So far, I have found that I can go thru security in flip-flops only!

    As for gripes with Europeans, I have a hard time finding any! From a sweet old Greek lady who — when we didn’t have quite enough money for the fruit at her roadside stand — said “just take it….I have plenty from the trees” to the Prague bus driver who stopped in the middle of the block when the crazy Americans realized they missed their stop….to the taxi driver in Budapest who spent an entire day showing us the countryside because he was so proud of his heritage….any problems I had were language barriers and I figure that’s my own fault!

  41. What is with the photocopies in museums? or laminated, plasticized, uprights? LIke Rick says, like reading a book standing up! We are seeing this in USA also. Looks like the same company did all the museums with same format. The different, unique, displays were much more interesting and informative. Somebody make it stop! My husband is a museum hound; we always spend a lot of time in any city in museums, but these cookie cutter displays are beginning to be annoying. Hopefully, the Brits will keep them out of the British Museum and the British Library.

  42. Bonjour! As a native French person living in Seattle, I so enjoyed everyone’s comments about ice cubes… I like ice in my drinks like the next (American) person, and get somewhat frustrated when I travel in Europe. To make you all feel better, though, I can’t tell you how many of my French friends and relatives gripe about ice cubes when they visit me here :-) As for being loud in public (foreign) places, I am afraid Americans do not hold a monopoly on this either. I just came back from Spain. You should have heard some of the French, Dutch and German tourists there! I notice group travel seems to have that effect on people wherever they come from… A bientot! Veronique- French Girl in Seattle

  43. Boorish Americans who cross the pond expecting to find their idea of efficiency and convenience on the other side. Hey, go to Detroit, instead!
    For the price of a tepid Coke, I look forward to exchanging our frenetic pace for the existential idle of Europe. Savoring cappuccino, wine and reflection, I languish at a sidewalk cafes…a daily ritual.
    Oddly, when I slow down, time obliges me and does the same…

  44. Haha! I love the conversation about the ice cubes.

    I travel to the Netherlands because my husband is Dutch (an alien in Seattle!). I feel fortunate that I am always staying in a friend’s home each travel period, because I simply walk to the village and purchase some handy dandy ice cube making plastic bags! You might end up with a few bits of plastic in your drink, but it’s well worth it for ice cube freaks like myself. =)

  45. I have been to Europe several times and I must say I have not seen Americans misbehave, or be loud. We cruised, rode trains, buses, taxis, and have been very proud of Americans. It is the Spanish and Germans I find very loud and pushy. My pet peeve is when you are at a landmark i.e. the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen,and there happen to be many visitors, families that want their picture taken with the statue, and the rest of us have to wait until the camera is turned on, focused and taken. Sometimes that can take a long time.

  46. Kat..your boorish remark should also be on this list of pet peeves. Do you honestly think we miss the subtleties and delights of European travel just because some of us would like a cooler drink?

    It’s not that deep of an issue.

  47. My pet peeve is when the total price listed and charged is not really the total price. We took a day trip from Austria to Venice however, on the bus we were told it would be another 11 Euros to get the boat from the parkade to the City. This wasn’t optional and everyone had to pay it.

    This is similar to services or things that are listed as ‘all-inclusive’ but are really included at an extra charge. You only find out when you check out.

  48. Laughed about the ice cubes and coke… just drink bottled water or tap – we drank tap for four weeks last summer and didn’t ever have any intestinal discomforts, that I can remember! Cokes have a lot of sugar. We certainly don’t need the additional sugar and water is healthier for your body!

  49. Tap water in London tastes bad! We love the tap water in Switzerland. Not all tap waters are created equal nor all bottled waters are created equally either! ( yes, just depends on your taste buds but tap water in W. Europe is generally safe ). Remember, don’t just assume you get GI discomfort simply because the tap water you drink was the culprit, perhaps the flora in your guts need sometime to get used to the local water.
    Restaurants in Europe usually do not serve tap water unless you request it, and they often do not include ICE CUBES!!! Nonetheless, I would take water over coke anyday.

  50. Have to comment on the ice/water: we tried to order tap water in Germany, were told “no”. Water is carbonated mineral water. We finally learning to order “still wasser”, but it was still mineralized. Because I am diabetic, I had to limit my beer and wine consumption. Diet Coke without ice turns into formaldehyde! They would say they didn’t have ice, but then the buffet tables were packed with ice.
    Unfortunately,Americans to dress badly and are rude and inconsiderate are just acting like they do at home. Just walking down any street in the U.S. is downright embarrasing anymore.

  51. The only possible gripe I can think of that really hit home was the proliferation of ugly graffitti that now covers most of Europe. To me there was nothing sadder than to see some fine old building or monument covered in trashy-looking graffitti. I found myself wondering why there didn’t seem to be much of an effort made to control such vandalism. Graffitti is almost unnavoidable in urban areas, but I’d see it out in the middle of nowhere, scarring the landscape wherever I went. It became somewhat deppressing.

  52. I agree with Karen. The graffitti in Europe is everywhere and covers some of the most beautiful things. Also I was skiing in Switzerland (Grindlewald and Murren) this past March and several snowboarders from the U.S.were not only loud, but were swearing at each other (using the worst words) on a piste full of families with children on a week-end holiday. By the way, I used Rick’s Guide for places to stay and also bought a 15 day Swiss Pass from his office. I had a great trip except for the loud Americans.

  53. The last time I was in Ireland, I was complaining to my Irish friend (who speaks English, French, German, Swiss and Italian) about American tourists in Europe. He dissagreed and said that the American’s who travel to Europe tend to be open minded, friendly and thoughtful tourists (like most of us on this board). As he puts it “the guy who is flushing all of his French wine down the toilet is not boarding the next plane to Paris”. I think we tend to zone in on the most odeous Americans because (1) we are trying hard not to be like them and (2) we can’t understand what the other tourists are saying.

  54. Rick’s peeves:
    “People at security and check-in lines who recognize me from my guidebooks and TV show…and then say, “Can I see your ID?”

    I see that you wrote this before the new, more stringent rules went into effect; however, I am surprised you would find such a request by officials to be annoying. They are merely adhering to the rules pertaining to photo ID which are quite clear. I must agree that it is irritating to be constantly obliged to prove that one is an innocent traveller with no evil intentions, but, if those are the rules, so be it.

    “Over-earnest British people (especially on British Air) apologizing for something more than once and saying mind your head every time you near a low doorway.”

    Yes, a little over the top, perhaps, but very polite and well-meaning. Better that than loud, rude Americans, whom you also list among your peeves.

    Happy Travels, Rick! We’ll be awaiting all your new tips with eager anticipation.

  55. A few postings up I saw an interesting posting about how Europeans may not use excessive amounts of ice in their drink because they believe that extremely cold things are bad for ones health. I happen to be an American working in Taiwan with several German colleagues. I just asked them about this across the table and they both got a laugh out of it. They said that it is indeed true that many Germans believe that food and drink which is excessively hot or cold is bad for you. They mentioned that this was very much the case in the past but is less so today. Another interesting belief that one of my German friends also mentioned is that his father and many other older Germans he knew growing up believed that it was unhealthy to drink liquid with your meals and that you should wait to drink a beverage until after you had finished eating your food. I think that this would be much more of an inconvenience than having to deal with warm Coke.

  56. I was really happy and relieved to see that Rick included high on his list of Pet Peeves, “Americans who talk twice as loud as anyone else in a restaurant or public place in Europe and carry on oblivious to the peace they are destroying.” I was mortified by this during a 2006 Rick Steves Tour to France. After the tour, I wrote to ETBD about it, and they replied that they would discuss it with the tour guides to see if a tactful suggestion could be given, perhaps during the orientation meeting, to encourage tour members to try to be sensitive to the culture through whose “back door” they are about to enter. Although the tour was extremely perfect and I wouldn’t complain about a single thing, during group dinners and picnics it was obvious that nearby French diners glanced balefully at our group — they were unable to carry on a conversation at their OWN table, amidst the incredible loudness of our group. Thanks, Rick, for continuing to point American travelers in the right direction!

  57. To “A Traveler” above who wrote about it being inconvenient to not be able to drink with meals — it’s a well-known medical fact that drinking liquids while eating dilutes the gastric juices, which inhibits the absorption of nutrients from one’s food. References to this can be found in any reputable medical journal. It’s especially pernicious to drink soft drinks, such as Coke, which contain toxic chemicals.

  58. Hey. My mother loved children – she would have given anything if I had been one. Help me! I can not find sites on the: Mills pride bathroom cabinets. I found only this – bathroom Cabinets ronkonkoma ny. In order to post comments, please make sure javascript and cookies are enabled, and reload the page. But, there are differences between them; some are harder to install than others. Thanks for the help :o, Talasi from Guatemala.

  59. How are you. Everything happens to everybody sooner or later if there is time enough. I am from Thailand and also now am reading in English, tell me right I wrote the following sentence: “Prior to cleaning your carpet, there are certain things that must be done to prepare your carpet cleaning.” Thank ;) Dusan.

  60. How are you. Memory feeds imagination. I am from United and bad know English, give true I wrote the following sentence: “One performance is for the money to profit, the well-known is for the report to understand its discards.” THX ;), Peggy.

  61. My pet peeves in Britain are: Greenwich being pronounced grennich instead of green-witch Edinburgh being pronounced Edin-bura instead of Edin-berg Traditional attitudes towards children

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