Observations

Things we have learned

  • Churros for breakfast: brilliant!
  • Good wine is remarkably inexpensive.
  • To order a draft beer in Spain, ask for “una caña”. A glass of wine is “una copa”.
  • In most European grocery stores, you are responsible for weighing and printing labels for your fruits/vegetables before you try to check out. Fruit/veggies with existing barcodes allow you to circumvent this system.
  • Bidets are nice.
  • The Castilian Spanish word for ‘five’ is pronounced ‘think-o’. If you say ‘sink-o’, you may be laughed at.
  • Don’t try to eat the oranges from the public orange trees found throughout Sevilla. I hear they are quite bitter.
  • So far, nobody seems to own a dryer – all laundry is line dried outdoors.
  • In Catalonia (e.g. Barcelona), the default language is Catalan. Spanish will work, but reading signs, menus, etc. can be confusing.
  • Almost all stores in Barcelona are closed on Sundays. An exception is OpenCor – which is like a micro Fred Meyer.
  • In France, some busses will allow you to bring your dog onboard, though if your dog is large, you may need to buy a ticket for him.
  • Steak tartare always seems to be on the menu in France.
  • In Italy, you will be given a receipt for everything. Even if you don’t want one. Even if you have an online one. You will leave every transaction with a receipt.
  • The Italian word “porcospino” means hedgehog, not porcupine.
  • You can unironically eat bologna in Bologna – they call it mortadella.
  • If you’re travelling Europe without an umbrella (like us), Bologna is a great city for getting caught in the rain. Its extensive porticos almost guarantee you can get from point A to point B without getting wet.
  • In Vienna, your dog can ride the U-Bahn (subway), but you have to buy him a half-fare ticket.
  • With ambitious vacations, similar to large software projects, you have to be prepared to cut specific items to ensure the quality of the overall vacation. As of late April, we had cut Greece and Turkey and in May we dropped Scandinavia from the plans, which has allowed us a more interesting, leisurely trip through the core of Europe.
  • If you have the choice between buying the Slovenian coffee or the Italian coffee, stick with the Italian coffee.
  • The most useful phrase to learn when entering a new country is a slightly poor pronunciation of the standard greeting. People will take pity on you and switch to English.
  • Croatian bread makes awesome toast.
  • In the US/Canada, I was always puzzled by cookbooks’ seemingly unnecessary instruction to carefully clean mushrooms with a brush or damp paper towel, but in Europe it is essential unless you happen to like a ton of grit in your food.
  • In Croatia, red wine is referred to as “crno vino”, which translates literally as “black wine”.
  • Eggs come in packs of 10, not 12.
  • Seemingly every city/town in Croatia has a street named after Nikola Tesla.
  • Hungarian is an interesting language – it has 44 letters and its closest relative is Finnish.
  • In the Czech language, you can convert pretty much any non-Czech noun to Czech by appending a ‘y’ to it (our favorites being “baguetty” and “teambuildingy”).
  • Swiss German speakers will look at you just a little strangely when you use regular German with them.
  • In the UK, a “bap” refers to a round, white sandwich bun.
  • The British possess the technology to build a tap that mixes hot and cold water, but they typically choose not to.

Things We Have Seen in Almost Every European City

  • Dogs, mostly terrier mixes with furnishings
  • Nuns
  • Tourists, often with funny ways of getting around (Segways, tour busses, little trams that look like trains, etc.)
  • Unfortunately, at least one of: McDonalds, Starbucks, KFC – often located at the main tourist sites
  • Irish Pubs
  • Economic protest signs/graffiti.
  • Un-neutered dogs
  • People attempting to take photos/video with their iPads

Things We Have Eaten for the First Time

  • Pastel de Nata – a custard-filled pastry (Lisbon, Portugal)
  • Socca – a chickpea crepe (Nice, France)
  • Tourte de Blettes – a sweet swiss chard pastry (Nice, France)
  • Kremna Rezina – a custard and cream-filled pastry (Bled, Slovenia)
  • Ćevapčići (a.k.a. “Serbian meat stick”) – a spicy grilled ground meat kebab (Bled, Slovenia)
  • Soft-boiled eggs – not strictly a new food, but we are developing the skill of eating these out of egg cups.
  • Blitva s krumpirom – Literally ‘chard with potatoes’. A very common side dish found in Dalmatia. Also, you often see chard translated as ‘silver beets’ (Croatia)
  • Lángos – rounds of fried bread dough with various toppings (Budapest, Hungary)
  • Klöße – large, round potato dumplings (Germany)
  • Tête de Moine – A Swiss cheese that is served by carefully shaving it until it is in a rosette form. In the ’80s, they even developed a special machine for shaving it!
  • Flauder – A tasty Swiss soda made with elderberry and lemon balm.
  • Maultasche – A Swabian noodle filled with spinach and meat.
  • Black Pudding – basically, a tasty British sausage made from BLOOD.
  • Elderflower cordial – a sugary elderflower solution that’s often mixed with sparkling water.

 

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