Let’s talk about the differences Americans will discover when visiting Poland and Germany. Sometimes I was a little dumbfounded when confronted with a difference because I wasn’t sure what the heck I was supposed to do, such as change the temperature of the shower water. It seems like a relatively easy task but I was half way through my shower before I realized how to change the temperature at one hostel. I found a few things to be comical, some to be annoying and others to be better. Here’s the rundown.
The Shower in Germany
Look at these knobs. Can you tell how you change the water temperature? Looks easy. Let me know if you figure it out.
Showers in Poland
What the heck, Poland? Why are your showers so small? If I weighed any more, I’m not sure I would be able to move around in them at all. I had to ask a Polish friend why. Explanation: apparently, Poland used to only have bathtubs. These bathtubs were on the shorter side too. Think, your knees bent even for a short person. So when Poland was no longer part of the Eastern Bloc and more goods were available, Poles started to remove the bathtubs and install showers. Bathroom space was very limited; hence, the extra small shower.
In one shower, it was so small every time I attempted to turn and wash, my back hit the faucet turning the water off. It had a glass wall giving it the appearance of a larger space. Wrong! In another, I had to turn the water off in order to wash because there was only a handheld shower nozzle.
The Electric Plugs
Small showers, large plugs. Go figure. The outlets are huge and so are the plugs that go in them.
Where are the Lights?
At every restroom/bathroom/WC/toilet (whatever your country calls it), the lights are on the outside. You turn the lights on before you enter the bathroom. I understand the logic behind it. Lights on before you enter but…what happens if someone turns the light off while you are sitting on the toilet or are in the shower? Then what? I accidentally did this to someone at a hostel. Luckily, she screamed and I turned the light right back on. Whoops!
Again with the Lights?
In many places, the lights are motion-detected. Yayyee for going green! However, I really wished they would stay on a tad longer without having to dance around to get them to come back on over and over. Or have to walk down a dark The Shining-like hallway or staircase and wonder if the lights will click on or if you have to find a switch. It’s creepy.
Lights Again? For Real?
Yes, how about having to insert your room card key into a slot in order to get the electricity to turn on. This one isn’t bad. Simply something this American needed to get used to doing. I would forever try to turn on the lights and wonder, “What is happening?” Duh, Trish, put the card in the slot. Head smack. When you head back to that door, don’t forget to lock it with your key as there may not be a knob.
Need some more differences Americans will discover, how about…
In some hotels, certain Americans would freak out. Why? Because the rooms come with two twin beds. Not doubles. Not queens. But twins. Didn’t bother me; however, I work in a hotel and can imagine some people’s reaction to finding two twin beds. Some people have real issues only have 2 double beds or even 1 double bed in their room. They would flip a lid with the twins. Hehehe makes me giggle thinking about it.
In every hostel and hotel I stayed, with the exception of the two 5-star hotels, the bedding was made up the same. Bedding consisted of a blanket covered by a white duvet, always folded the same too, with a bottom sheet (no top sheet) and of course, a pillow. More on those later. I LOVE the crisp but soft white duvet cover. (hint: Christmas present some year???)
The pillows are huge! Or at least the places I stayed at had huge square pillows. I’d never seen such pillows on beds before. They worked great for propping yourself up in bed. Love them.
For a traveler, the towel warmers installed in most bathrooms are like nirvana. No more waiting forever for your clothes to dry. Wash them in the sink and hang them up to dry. Even my heaviest sweater was dry overnight. This addition is something American hotels and builders should incorporate. Oh, and you can warm up your towel while you take a shower in the teeny tiny stall.
Avoid them at all costs if you are a tea lover. Why? Because there is espresso in them. Yuck. I almost gagged on my first sip. Now, I want to know how chai lattes are made in the rest of the world.
Lunch is dinner. Meaning at your noon-2pm meal you are eating your largest meal. Traditional lunch time may consist of a bowl of soup followed by the main meal such as pork with potatoes and cabbage. Soup is a national pastime. It is extremely popular, all varieties. There is even some soups for breakfast. Personally, I wanted to take a nap after every lunchtime meal as I had food coma.
Breakfast is lunch or at least what Americans would eat for lunch. Cold cuts, hot dogs, cheese, rolls, and sliced tomatoes and cucumbers. It is a very hardy breakfast. Definitely not the sweet laden or bacon n eggs type of breakfast I am used to having. Man, did I crave some peanut butter toast or pancakes and maple syrup or bacon and hashbrowns. Since I don’t like cold cuts, I ate a lifetime’s worth of cold cheese sandwiches.
Everyone eats so politely with a fork and knife, at the same time. From what I hear, it is only barbarian Americans that eat with only a fork. It was a difference I noted and they noted about me as well. Americans tend to cut their food then set the knife down while eating with only fork in hand. If we need to scoop up bits of food, instead of using a knife to push it onto the fork, we um, well, ah, use our finger or thumb. 🙂 It is so much easier.
Water and Refills
There is no free water in restaurants. If you order water, chances are it will come in a bottle. You will be asked if you want it flat or with gas. Flat is regular mineral water and with gas means sparkling water. Now, if you order a soda (or pop), it will probably be bottled as well. Good news! The bottled soda is normally a glass bottle which makes soda tastes so much better! Bad news. It is a really small bottle and there are no free refills. No free refills on water either keep in mind.
One of my favorite things about eating in Poland is their tradition of saying “Thank You” when you are finished eating and leave the table. Isn’t that awesome? I love this polite tradition and found myself saying it by the end of my stay.
Differences are part of what make traveling so interesting and appealing. Therefore, I welcome the differences no matter how odd or unusual they may be.