Quora Asks: "What was your biggest CULTURE SHOCK going to EUROPE"? And MY ANSWER WAS.... Open Call

ponte tiberio1 1 rimini02 1 strozzapreti alla calabrese 1 sangiovese

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. 

Grand Hotel Rimini (Italy) - Hotel Reviews - TripAdvisor

The City of Rimini as VIME Hotels & Resorts destination

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. 

rimini, italy | Travel: Baci Italia! | Pinterest

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!

Italian Food Manufacturer | Italian Olive Oil | Italian Pasta Recipe ...

Italian Pasta Sauces | Cooking & Preparing Sauces for Pasta

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.

... Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing: Rimini, Emilia-Romagna, Italy

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

Views: 475

Comment by marilyn sands on May 10, 2016 at 11:34am

This is also the first time I clicked on Quora's website - because I don't have any questions - I know all the answers!  haha  And, if not - I just ask Seri!

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 10, 2016 at 12:22pm

My only culture shock came on an extended stay on St Croix in the US Virgin Islands.  There's Christiansted, the tourist trap where the cruise ships landed and on the other side of the island was Frederiksted, which looked like this in 1973:


... and now that there's a new dock for cruise ships and Front Street looks like this:

It was on St, Croix that I came to understand the way of life known as "Island Time."  Check it out, might give you a chuckle or two:

1973: St. Croix, David, Island Time and Poker

Comment by marilyn sands on May 10, 2016 at 12:36pm

Thanks jmac!  Never been to St. Croix - but if the 3 Stooges were there; it must be something!

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 10, 2016 at 12:41pm

If you read the Memories post you'll find that the stooges illustrate three stoned fools, me include, snorkeling off the beach trying to round up and capture a hapless lobster. Like I said, should be good for a chuckle or two. ;-D

Comment by nerd cred on May 10, 2016 at 1:13pm

I've only been to Eastern Europe - Poland in 1975 - still communist so it was 6 months of nothing but culture shock. I expected that, though, so it all blends together.

I got interested in the ecological-reduce-reuse-recycle movement in the early 1970's. My recycling mentor had half convinced me that there would be no more paper by the 1990's. (I wonder what she thinks now - we seem to use more paper than ever.) When my kids were home we used cloth napkins. Everyone had a couple, monogrammed with our initials, blue and white checked cotton like the iconic red and white checked tablecloths, handmade by mom. After dinner they went in our red bakelite napkin rings. If they were too dirty they got switched with your other one but you don't have to be a slob. (Food goes in your mouth not on your face.) They got washed twice a week or so. From what I've read, in Miss Manners, I think, this was commonly done before we had disposable everything. (Now I use paper but I can and do compost it.)

Our reputation worldwide is as wasteful and too worried about being clean. That was certainly true in Poland.

Comment by nerd cred on May 10, 2016 at 1:15pm

Those napkins are faded to almost solid white by now, btw.

Comment by marilyn sands on May 10, 2016 at 1:31pm

Thanks nerd cred!  All very interesting about the olden days - the 70's.  ha ha 

I don't know for sure - but I think it was just this small hotel that had this policy & it's certainly not the whole wonderful country of Italy or any of the other 999 terrific hotels in Rimini! 

Comment by Julie Johnson on May 10, 2016 at 1:31pm

When I first moved down South, 40 years ago, had never thought of gravy for breakfast and they didn't put sugar in their cornbread either.  Wtf is 'grits'? 

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 10, 2016 at 1:52pm

Grits is White Hominy or, as Mexicans call it, Mote Blanco: alkaloid (lye) bleached whole corn, ground up into a mash.

I like Hominy as a side dish, but have never gotten used to the mouth feel of grits.

Comment by marilyn sands on May 10, 2016 at 3:11pm

Thanks Julie!  I know - spending a lot of time in Georgia myself & all that Sweet Tea!


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