As an American, you can’t move fast enough as you tap your foot at Starbucks if your latte takes too long and rage through rush hour. In Europe I learned patience and the appreciation of taking your time at meals. Dinner was not for the necessity of eating but for the enjoyment of wine, food, and company. I realized at an Italian restaurant, Mamma Angela’s, that table turns were not rapid and courses took longer. I learned to set back and say “I’ll take another” glass of wine.
I thought I had learned this in Cuba but apparently not. I recall asking the front desk in Paris for a steamer. He looked at me puzzled. I explained my clothes were severely wrinkled from traveling. “OH!” An iron, yes we have one of those. Steamers are only available in the states, he explained. During my adventure I had to set aside American expectations of amenities.
3. Open mindedness
Everyone who knows well knows I am not fond of cheese. Ok well mascarpone in tiramisu is an exception. However in Paris I was like you know what I’m going to have an open mind to food on this trip. Although the chef had me try Brie cheese that I disliked, I came across other foods that I would generally not consume, to be some of the ones that I can’t stop craving.
Although you must always be cautious of strangers and aware of warned pick picketers while traveling, in my adventures I’ve always come across the most wonderful people that have resulted in friendships in different area and country codes.
5. Cultural education
I encountered London to be a melting pot and to my surprise heard more American accents than British. In the states it is custom to approach someone with a question without greet. For example my famous one at work is a prompt approach followed by “where are the bathrooms?” In Paris however it is rude to approach someone with a question without saying “bonjour” first. Parisians informed me it is less of a greeting and more of a request for permission to invade their personal space. Rome impressed with their warmth and laid back personalities. Many restaurant encounters resulted in the sitting down of staff and conversation that will forever be a dining experience to remember. “Cin cin” (Italian for cheers).
6. Problem solving
From finding money exchange facilities when you run out of Euros to hoping the wheels on your luggage doesn’t break as you look for your train. I had to take an unexpected clothes shopping trip to Zara, that’s I’m not complaining about. Packing all summer clothes I was surprised by unexpected rain and cool temps in Paris.
7. Non intimidation
Let’s just say my fear of traveling alone pretty much anywhere in the world is gone. Already researching where to book my next ticket.