9 Things That Will Totally Confuse Canadians When They Go To Europe & Some Will Suprise You


This opinion piece is part of a series by Narcity Media. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

Before boarding a plane for a holiday in Europe, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself so that you don’t get seriously confused in everyday life. On my recent trip to Italy and Greece, my brow was furrowed by more than a few things that just don’t resonate in Canada.

One of my favorite parts of traveling is noticing little things that make you feel a world away from home. Whether it was a bathroom experience or ordered something completely wrong, my trip has been filled with it.

Apart from my recent travels I have been to other European countries and I always manage to get confused by these things.

There is no tipping option

It’s pretty well known that tipping is not that important in Europe. Still, every time I walk away and pay at the end of my meal, it gives me pause. I feel like I’m forgetting something when I leave the restaurant and it definitely takes some getting used to.

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Only get plain milk if you order a latte

In Italy I ordered a latte for breakfast and was quite disappointed when the waiter handed me a plain glass of milk. Yes, there wasn’t a little caffeine to satisfy my morning coffee cravings. The situation is similar in France too, so be sure to order a latte macchiato or café au lait when you travel.

Bubbling water appeared at dinner

If you go to a restaurant and just order some water, you will be presented with a bottle of sparkling water, mostly no questions asked.

In many European countries it is common to drink sparkling water, which is not the case in Canada. If you’re looking for still water, make sure you specify it.

To be calculated for water in general

So you send the sparkling water back and ask for a still glass of water instead. You will receive a whole bottle and it will appear on your bill.

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While you can go to almost any restaurant in Canada and get tap water for free, in most European places you should expect to pay for it.

Go to a public restroom and wonder where the toilet seat went

After a long flight and lots of liquids, I ran off the plane and made my way to the bathroom. I went into a stall and found there was no toilet seat so I assumed it was broken. I went to the next one only to find the same problem.

I was at a loss. “Where am I sitting?” I thought to myself.

Apparently it’s the norm in some European countries like Italy. So basically get used to squatting down.

People light up a cigarette next to you on a restaurant terrace

If you decide to sit on a terrace and enjoy a delicious meal and someone next to you starts smoking, that’s actually allowed. Although not legal in Canada, it is common in many European countries.

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Go past a designated smoking room in the airport

Even walking through the airport I was surprised to see that there are still smoking rooms available for travelers which I haven’t seen in Canada since I was a child.

The cashier is in the grocery store

When I went to the checkout at a local grocery store, I was super surprised to see all the cashiers sitting on chairs. Honestly I have no idea why Canada doesn’t have this as it looks a lot more convenient.

The rules of the road

When you drive, there’s nothing that will confuse you more than a whole new set of rules to follow. Road rules vary greatly from country to country, but it is very confusing for someone who is used to driving in Canada.

In Germany, it’s shocking to see cars speeding past you with no speed limit, and Italian roundabouts were a whole different story. I’ve been honked countless times while driving and still have no idea why.





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