Being a Hostel Bum and Cultural Faux Pas

I'm not sure this term exists but it's what I think I've been the last while.

Last night was a perfect example of how hostels really can have everything one needs in them.

I found my hostel later in the day after getting off a 20+ hour train from Amsterdam to Copenhagen. At first I had big plans for the evening- I was going to find the beach then a grocery store. I did neither as I was much too tired. At 10pm I realized I hadn't eaten much at all that day. I went downstairs to the kitchen, and the free food bin, to my good fortune, was plum full! I made whole wheat pasta, with tomato sauce, oil, salt, and pepper. Then only thing missing was some nice cheese and veggies. Nevertheless, it was perfect.

This hostel is kind of strange in that one is required to rent linen and utensils. I did get the linen, but there was a free plastic fork in the food bin and I ate my pasta out of the pan. I was totally prepared to go Malian style and eat the pasta with my hands- I would just hide in a corner to do so, so nobody would see me...

Another example of being "cheap" in Europe- and in other places- and possibly being offensive about it happened in Amsterdam. We had just finished a canal tour. Before the tour a person had taken a photo of my friend and I. It was a really nice photo. They turned the photo into a post card and were selling them for 5 euros. I would never- usually- pay that much for a photo- so I got my camera out to take a picture of the photograph. I did that in New Zealand as well after bungee jumping. These tourist pictures are priced so high.  I know it's possibly illegal, and people are just trying to make a profitable living... but still I tried it. I wasn't caught in New Zealand, but in Amsterdam a young woman came up, yelled, and took the photo out of our hands in a fairly aggressive manner. I was scared and didn't get the picture. This woman was young, and looked fairly laid back- so I was surprised to have her get so angry. I'm sure I've done that to people before as well. It's just one of those actions that really stick with you for a while, and don't feel the greatest. But I was in the wrong still... Hmmph.

Other cultural learning's I've experienced:

  • -When saying "Sante" or "Cheers"- one should make sure to look into the eyes of the person their cheering. 
  • -Greeting kisses in France- one on each cheek- 2 in total- Switzerland- 3 kisses- Belgium- 1 kiss or 3 kisses on formal occasions- in the Netherlands kissing is a bit more formal and only happens when it's a more important or special occasion. * Warning- I could have gotten these mixed up! 
  • -I don't really understand the formalities around this- but I sometimes sit it awkward positions, with my feet up, etc. I have my feet up on a coffee table right now, etc. I was told in McDonald's yesterday to get take my feet off a chair that I was resting them on. I've spent a bit of time with a Japanese person on this trip. I understood that in Japan, it is more common to see women sitting correctly with their legs together, maybe not crossed or with a knee up, as I do so often. I need to work on my sitting postures. 
So, those above examples are some ways I could have stuck out as a foreigner. Hopefully I didn't offend anyone too badly- and that the Dutch woman has forgotten how I tried to take a picture of her photo. 

These are a few examples of things I've worked on getting used to while here. 

  • -Paying for public toilets. I've only ever had to do this in Bolivia, but it is a very common necessity where I've been travelling. Some European bathrooms have been the nicest I've ever seen and others, some of the worst. I've really been impressed with Swedish, German, Dutch and Danish bathrooms so far. In case anyone was wondering... 
  • -Often, if you have to pay for a bathroom- between .30 and 2 euros- there will be an attendant, making sure they are clean- which is nice. Though, sometimes they are males. It has been new for me to see males casually walk around women's public toilets. I went to a pool in Lyon and there were guys as attendants in the change room. Interesting- I thought. 

There are really nice and relaxed people in my room at the hostel, a girl from Sweden, Germany and Spain- I'm here one more night but will see Nina later on today. It will be so nice to see her again. It's been really hard for me to calm down since arriving in Copenhagen- it was raining earlier this morning so it's really forced me to stay put and relax. I got to talk with my Kiwi friend today as well. Slowly my energy is coming back, as it did in Lyon.

I tend to write a lot when I get like this.

Apart from seeing Nina today I want to continue organizing the rest of my trip, clean up, find a beach, and a grocery store. That might be too much- we'll see.

Here are a few more pictures from the last few days-

Not dropping the camera...

On this map I know I've spelt at least one persons name wrong and maybe did not take the exact route to get to each city- but it's the overall idea...

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