European Travels

posted by : Jon Kroupa on 12/31/2010

Nearly all of my travel experiences in Europe have been positive. It is just bad luck that the negative ones are the funniest.

Hostels sound hostile

I have nothing against youth hostels and I would say 90% or more are somewhere between good and great. But occasionally you get a bad one.

The hostel that smelled of urine was in Koln, Germany in a fortress overlooking the Rhine river. It was a great hostel, except for the smell. On that same trip a few places fed us breakfast cereal in the morning. It was a good chocolate flakes cereal, but as an American it is psychologically disturbing to pour room temperature milk into your bowl. Particularly when after breakfast is over you see the hostess put the milk back into the pantry.


I think we were jaded on that trip to Europe in 2001. The first hotel we stayed in was in Dover, England. As the man was taking us up to our room he unlocked a door and opened it, to which a couple called out that they were in there. The man quickly shut the door and then showed us to an empty room. He apparently didn't know which rooms were occupied for the night. Our room had additional problems, but at least it wasn't being used by other tenants. That is when we decided we should see a room before we rent it.

No water for you

Certainly the most frustrating thing about Europe is that you cannot get a simple glass of tap water at a restaurant. If you order water they will bring you the most expensive bottle of sparkling water they can find. If you specifically order water from the tap (or without bubbles) they will most like just "forget" to bring it. The reason shops won't give you water is because it is free. They don't make any money off it so why give it to you? I guess customer satisfaction is a foreign concept.

There are essentially only two choices of soda, Coca Cola or Fanta Orange, both of which they pour from 1 - 2 liter bottles into the smallest glass you've ever seen. There are no free refills. Really the only place you can get free water or free refills is in a McDonalds. McDonalds must have to brainwash every employee to convince them that customer service is important, and when your beverages cost less than $0.15 and you sell it for $1.50 it is okay to allow a few refills.

There are more stories from Europe and other destinations, like Japan, but the struggle I have is turning a humorous story or situation into a dialogue between two people. I'll eventually figure it out.