Well, first let me say - my young family & I lived in Europe 3 years in the 70's - so it wasn't like a one-timey-ruined-our-vacation vibe - this was just one of many.
That said - the very first thing that came into my head was...Rimini, Italy. It's not the town itself; but the hotel experience we had & happens to be the hometown of famous film director Federico Fellini.
We didn't stay at his favorite hotel - The Grand; where he died making a phone call, or on the cliffs.
Instead, for 3 or 4 lazy days; we chose a quaint mom & pop establishment where breakfast & dinner was included & were instructed to sit at the same table every meal.
Now, the question was: biggest "culture shock" not complaint. Tourists, in general have lots of complaints; but culture shock is like seeing something you didn't expect to find.
Like, if you went to Mars & saw a...a Jungle Jim. Or a Salad Shooter - stuff like that! Or a Condom. Now I got you imaging a Condom on Mars, didn't I? ha ha
Okay, a Toothbrush - are you happy now?
Oh yes - back to Rimini. As a young family; it was our last road trip in Europe before we were to head back home to Maryland - so it was - the Beach!
And, this was heaven - 10 miles of sand on the Adriatic Sea after 3 bitter winters & incessant rains in Stuttgart, W. Germany.
We arrived at the hotel just in time to be greeted at the door with a complimentary glass of vino & then a quick wash up before dinner; as we were starved & ready for some authentic Italian specialties.
We put our white linen napkins on our laps & were ready for business; as cutlery began to fly... Ravioli, Gnocchi, Cannelloni & Tagliatelle with Bolognese Sauce & that was just the 1st plates!
After dinner we looked up at the dark sky & could see a Ferris Wheel in the distance & walked towards the light.
When we ran out of Lira & licked the last bit of cotton candy off our sticky fingers; we headed back to the hotel in the dark; walking among rows of empty beach chairs waiting for us to have our turn tomorrow in the morning sun.
If you're wondering why I'm taking so long to make my point - isn't this the site that pays by the word? ha ha
In the morning, we marched downstairs all sleepy-eyed; but eager to greet a new day in a marvelous town & such a happy, happy hotel.
Sitting now, ready to chow-down; something was amiss.
These napkins are used...& colorful!
Last night's dinner napkins are right here at each of our seats.
"That's mine, that's yours" the kids argued.
And, I recognize the Marinara & the wine spill stain I thought I sucked out! ha ha
What kind of hotel is this - and how do they keep track of who's was whose?
After our little family's eye-rolling was done; we tried to forget the elephant in the room - these napkins - and vowed to be very neat until we could find a 7-11 (fat chance) for paper anything to rock our world.
"Use your sleeves, kids & just smile - let's not make an international incident".
As dad eyed every bikini & we frolicked in the Adriatic Sea - it somehow took the sting out of the un-sanitized environs we left behind in that charming hotel.
Thru the years, it had been long forgotten until yesterday; when frigin' Quora asked me the question & brought it all up again!
Now it's your turn for "culture shock" in Europe or anywhere else in the world! Open Call