My parents, brother and I are HUGE travel junkies. We love touring, trying new food and even riding planes. That means we're globe trotters, hopping into countries every break right? Well sort of. By the time I was 13, my passport had 9 visas- all of them to China to visit family in the summer. We love travel, but my parents just weren't that into international travel. Things improved slightly when I joined my school's Model United Nations program and crossed Qatar, Singapore and the Philippines off my list. However, the real change happened two weeks ago when I took my first trip to Europe- Munich and Vienna to be exact. Culture shock? Definitely. Here are the 10 most different things I noticed about Munich and Vienna

1. No (regular) Toll Checks on the Metro

In Shanghai and presumably most cities, there are either ticket checks or a place to scan tickets before entering the platform. Not in Vienna or Munich. The platforms have no barriers and security is minimum. During our trip, we took at least 15 subway rides and only got checked once in Munich. Even that 'check ' was just a cursory glance that lasted less than a second. Of course, punishment is harsh if you are caught. Harsh as in a 100 euro fine and an entry into your record book

2. Water is Expensive

The first day I got there, I was thirsty as hell. Naturally, we headed to the nearest shop intending to buy a few bottles. Surprise! Each bottle cost 2.5 euro! To put that in perspective, that is around 18rmb. The average bottle of water in Shanghai costs more like 1-2rmb/bottle. So I had to endure thirst, only to find that the water at the hotel costs 2.75euro! Even at the supermarket, each bottle costs .5 - .7euro a bottle. 

3. ....and so is everything else

Even our most casual meals were around 5 euros.... and those were the least of our expenses. NONE of the famous attractions are free, and most are at least 20-30euro/ person if you include a tour. The only silver lining on this one is that children (under 18 in most circumstances) usually get discounts.

4. Alcohol Everywhere!

In the States and China, alcohol is sold at:

  •  Supermarkets
  • Liquor stores
  • dining/drinking establishments
  • the occasional shady street vendor in a shady alleyway (avoid at all costs)

In Munich and Vienna, alcohol is sold in all the aforementioned establishments plus:

  •  Museums
  • Tourist attractions
  • the opera house
  • the music hall
  • High school cafeterias

That's right, some high schools sell beer in their cafeterias.

5. Where are the Dogs?

The nice thing about Europe is that it's very pedestrian friendly. Thus, we walked around pretty much all day. By the second day, I noticed that very few people had big dogs. Actually, few people had dogs period. During the entire trip, I don't think I saw less than 10 dogs and only one was bigger than a Bischon. Is it a lack of space? A lack of money? Did I just not paying attention?

6. Stay out of the Bike Lane!

When I said that Europe is pedestrian friendly, I was kind of lying. While walking is certainly preferable to riding motorized transport, stay out of the bike lane! About half of any given sidewalk area is a designated bike lane. Walk into one and prepare to meet some annoyed citizens! The worst part is that the sidewalk is quite thin so just watch for the line.

7. Everything is under construction

Obviously not literally everything, but that's how it felt. Every at least 3-400 meters, some building or road was getting fixed (probably more as a precautionary measure than anything). Vienna was slightly better in terms of construction, but it was still pretty hard enjoying the music hall when workers were 'fixing' the chandeliers.

Overall, the trip was amazing and I will definitely return, at least to Austria and Germany if not to Munich and Vienna. Did any of you notice the same things in Europe? How are other countries/cities in comparison to Munich and Vienna? Answer in the comments below. Be sure to check out my other posts on my blog relating to the experience (Click Here)



Published by Angie Fan