What Surprised Me Most While Traveling Europe

Morgan Rajai is a student at the University of Colorado at Boulder and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is currently studying abroad with ISA in Barcelona, Spain.

I went to the town Oia in Greece where hundreds of people gathered to watch the sunset. One of the most memorable moments I have had while traveling.
I went to the town Oia in Greece where hundreds of people gathered to watch the sunset. One of the most memorable moments I have had while traveling.

 1. Nothing is free

The first 17 days of my trip have been of me traveling Greece and Italy before arriving to Barcelona. Throughout those two weeks I have learned that literally nothing is free in Europe. When sitting down at my first restaurant I learned that both water and bread are not free. They will bring you bread, but if you touch it you have to pay for it. Since tap water isn’t drinkable in most parts of Europe you also have to pay for bottled water. Also, many restaurants charge a cover fee just simply for sitting down. In Venice, the cover charge was 6.50 euros at a restaurant for just sitting down and listening to the live band. Also, need to go to the bathroom at an airport or train station? Well make sure you have 1 Euro coins because you also must pay to use the restroom.

My friends and I got "fish pedicures" which is where fish suck all the dead skin off your feet.
My friends and I got “fish pedicures” which is where fish suck all the dead skin off your feet.

2. PDA is real
Almost every street corner is covered with couples making out and showing “public displays of affection.” The train stations, bus stop, beaches, you name it and you will probably see at least a few couples showing their affection for one another.

3. Night time is not for sleeping
Once the sun goes down, the people come out. The streets are flooded with people around 10 o’clock with practically the whole city. Dinner is usually eaten from 9-11pm. We went to a few restaurants around 7 pm to have dinner and the waiter actually asked if we were there for dinner and lunch. I’ve learned that resting is meant for the day but at night is when the cities come alive.

4. Life is lived a lot slower
In America, you see people going through a drive-thru to get their coffee and eating in their car on their way to work. When we first arrived in Barcelona, we were looking for a quick lunch to just pick up a sandwich. I soon learned that this is nearly impossible. Coffee isn’t taken to go. People sit and drink their coffee at a cafe while enjoying their own company or a friends. People are never picking up food to go. Meals are usually a couple hours where everyone seems to be present and not on their phones. Europeans seem to really value company and meals are the perfect time to engage with one another.

We hiked up the hill in Florence, Italy to get a view of the whole city.
We hiked up the hill in Florence, Italy to get a view of the whole city.

Want to read more about Barcelona? Check out “Barcelona: First Impressions”

Author: morganrajai

Studying in Barcelona, Spain