When you travel to a different country, you are always somewhat prepared for cultural differences. There are, however, times when you feel as though you may be from a different planet. Here are some things that I wasn’t at all prepared for in Eastern Europe, so hopefully others aren’t as shocked as I was!
Please note that this post is not to degrade Eastern Europe in any way. I’ve loved my time in the region and would recommend it to many other travellers! However, this post is to inform westerners travelling of things that aren’t expected or are unusual in Western culture.
Yup, they are as horrid as they sound. Squat toilets mean that you put your feet in these little grooves, drop your dacks and essentially pray that you don’t whizz on your shoe. They often smell awful (mostly from others who can’t aim well) and I’ve encountered them mostly in older areas of town. My advice? ALWAYS go to a bathroom that you are familiar with before venturing to unchartered territory. Other than that, you gotta go when you gotta go. The worst part is, sometimes they make you pay for the privilege of peeing in their manky squat toilet. Painful.
Coming from Australia, I thought I had seen the worst of any heatwave that life could give me. I packed many a stocking, legging and jean for my trip abroad. Oy. After arriving in the Balkan region, it has been between 30 and 45 degrees celcius since arrive. 45 degrees! I thought my shoes would melt on the pavement! Lesson learnt, research temperature highs and lows of the country you are visiting and never assume!
Another misconception of Eastern Europe was that it would be pretty much on par with transport as Western & Central Europe. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The majority of buses are overloaded with people (they keep selling tickets despite not having seats available for long haul trips), trains are hot and cramped and other types are expensive. Most towns don’t have a metro system (subway) and you rely on bus rides, or walking.
What odd things have you encountered on your travels?