From all the way down in the Southern hemisphere, Europe often seems like an unattainable, well-dressed myth. It’s this uniquely strange land with swimming trunks and old buildings that we’ve only ever caught glimpses of while watching The Talented Mr Ripley. But when you finally decide to bite the bullet, search for flights on Cheapflights.co.za, stuff that brick-sized travel guide into your oversized packs and jet set off to Europe with all those dreamy expectations of Paris romances and Spanish siestas, we wouldn’t be surprised if it seems a little bit different from what you saw in the movies.
Europe is incredible, but here are a few little lies you’ll likely tell yourself while travelling there…Find cheap flights
1. “I actually prefer hostels!”
No, you don’t. Hostels are a necessary evil that occasionally peak with memorable nights and some outlandish characters. They are perfect for travelling around Europe. But there’s no denying that for most of us would rather retire to a Parisian hotel room equipped with a rain shower and a lovely mattress, instead of the top bunk of a 16-bed dorm where 14 people are snoring and the other two are sharing a bed.
2. “I’m going to learn the language!”
Such sweet intentions. Admirable even. No doubt you’ll spend most of the second leg of your twenty-eight-hour trip over there brushing up on Duolingo, expecting to hit the Champs Elysees running with a Bonjour, Ça va? here, and a Combien? there, croissants in one hand, a beret in another, but the truth is, by the time you enter your first pastry store you’ll freeze up and forget all the words. The words will tumble out of you like you’re vomiting a Scrabble board. And you know what, that’s completely ok. Europeans are used to it. And once you realise that most people in Europe speak some semblance of English, your intentions will get, sadly, less noble. Which is a shame, because you should never stop trying – they love an attempt. Even if it’s an embarrassingly pathetic one.
3. “I’m not going to be your typical tourist.”
That’s great. Aim for that. Because typical tourists are a drag. They just stand in the middle of the road, blocking traffic and taking photos of colourful tiles. But it’s also ok to let yourself be a tourist once in a while. Some of the attractions do live up to the hype – Michelangelo’s David will leave your jaw on the floor the first time you see it. But that doesn’t mean they all will. Not wanting to be stereotyped is fine, and if you don’t want to do something, don’t do it. But just don’t let yourself miss out on something because you’re trying to be too cool for school.
4. “I won’t get taken advantage of.”
Everyone does as a traveller, and you just have to roll with it. Whether it’s paying slightly too much for a bottle of water, visiting a restaurant that promises you authentic Italian food and gives you a limp Caesar salad, or something more sinister like someone forcing a giant python to sit on your neck and then charging you a lot of Euros – these things happen. It’s ok, that’s how we learn. It’s usually not the end of the world. Sometimes it’s just hard to spot a scam, that’s how it is.
For more information about travel scams, send a sizeable cheque to me and I’ll send you a brochure with all of them listed*.
*Defs not a scam.
5. “I’m going to spend a fortune!”
Yes, Europe is notoriously expensive. Cities like Paris, London and Stockholm can clear out a wallet faster than a rocket full of cheetahs. True, it’s difficult not splashing the cash, even if our rand would look the smuggest it has ever look (not that it will happen anytime soon). That being said, you’ll be amazed how little you do have to spend if you put your mind to it. Eastern European countries are insanely cheap – R25 beers in the Czech Republic, anyone?! – and even in the more expensive countries, if you cut out obvious tourist traps, walk everywhere, buy sandwiches and get up at midday to avoid breakfast entirely, you’ll probably spend less money than you do at home.
6. “Europe’s only good in summer.”
This is less a lie, and more a myth you might relay to people asking why you’re going in August. Europe is definitely brighter in summer, but it’s also high season, which means the cities are flooded with tourists and prices get blown out. Places like Barcelona, Cannes and Dubrovnik might be more beneficial in the heat because of the beaches, but Europe can be amazing whenever you go. The German Christmas markets aren’t to be missed and the snow in Bulgaria is next level. Don’t think that if you don’t go in summer you won’t have a good time.
7. “I’m going to see every country in Europe!”
I know that Europe seems small on that map you hung up on your dorm room wall, but don’t bite off more than you can chew. Europe is deceptively massive and it is dense. You could spend months visiting every nook and cranny of France and still not see it all. I’ve made the mistake of trying to visit too many countries on one trip and in the end, I just remember the airports and train stations and didn’t end up really soaking-up the vibe of that country. Depending on how long you’re over for, pick a few and just really enjoy them.