The world is full of amazing destinations to visit, and summer is always the best time to plan the next vacation with your friends and family.
You become exposed to different cultures, cuisines, people, and experiences, which can help shape the way you think and broaden your horizons.
One of the great rites of passage is traveling to Europe for a few weeks to escape the blistering Middle Eastern heat and work related stress.
No matter what your expectations are, London, Madrid, Paris, Berlin and many other beautiful places in Europe are bound to amaze you!
Here are just a few thoughts Arabs have when traveling to the continent:
1. Rain in July
The weather in Europe is unpredictable. One minute it's sunny and hot, the next it's raining and freezing cold like it's mid-December!
If you're not prepared, you'll end up walking back to your hotel, completely soaked as you take every vitamin or antibiotic pill there is to avoid a trip-ruining cold.
2. Metro stops have long and unpronounceable names
Public transportation is both a blessing and a curse. It's affordable and fast; it can take you anywhere and is easy to use... that is if you know the language, of course.
If your language skills are limited, you will never really know how to get anywhere. Can you ask for directions to Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch?
3. Bottled water is expensive
In the Arab world, it's not very common or recommended to drink tap water. It's known to be rather not-so-clean and should be avoided if possible.
In our region, you can buy a bottle of water for around 25 cents, but in Europe, the cheapest bottle will set you back 1.6 Euros ($1.9)!
4. Coins everywhere!
Okay, let's get one thing straight; every country uses coins, but in Europe, they are wayyyyy too overused.
It gets really confusing if you don't pay attention to how many you're getting back if you're out shopping.
You'll end up returning home with a wallet full of a variety of coins you never end up using.
5. Everything closes super early!
For those of you who don't know, Arabs like to stay out late; like really, really late.
Malls and shops in our region close anytime between 10-12 pm, depending on the country. In Europe, most establishments close around 8-9 pm at the latest.
Again, it depends on the country you're visiting, but you're lucky if you find a restaurant or bar that closes later.
If you're looking for some last minute shopping though, you won't find anything that's still open after 8 pm.
Don't postpone or else you'll miss your chance.
6. You have to pay to use public toilets
Arabs are not exactly accustomed to using public toilets, but when you gotta go, you gotta go, and it's usually free.
In Europe however, you pay to pee. Yes, pay to pee.
You can find public toilets everywhere and they're mostly clean, but it comes with a price.
A piece of advice: Use the coins that you've stocked up in your wallet.
7. Queuing is taken very seriously
By nature, Arabs hate to queue up; if we get the chance to skip a line, we will.
In Europe, however, queuing in line is taken very seriously and it's super organized.
People don't mind standing in line for hours because they're just accustomed to it and they rarely see people that don't stick to the rules.
If you do skip a line in Europe, you might get away with it sometimes, but don't get used to it because you will get a few dirty looks from people!
8. Nobody speaks English!
Ahhh English! The universal language you'd expect everybody in the world to know, speak and understand. Truth is... not everybody speaks English.
So if you're lost somewhere in Europe you'll be lucky to find a few people who speak English and are willing to help.
To find your way around cities and to make it easier for yourself, learn some of the basics of the local language.
9. You can't find air conditioning everywhere
Most countries in Europe aren't really used to the extremely hot weather. Let's face it, they only get a few weeks of proper summer sunshine a year.
Therefore, you won't find air conditioning everywhere!
10. Nude beaches
If you're visiting countries like Spain, Greece or Italy, for example, and you're looking to get a tan, be prepared to see a lot of nude men and women casually strolling along the beach.
People just DON'T want tan lines. It might be uncomfortable at first, but after a few days, your brain starts censoring things on its own.