3 things that always trip me up in foreign countries

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This is somewhat related to my Culture Shock blog post. But somehow there's a re-occurring theme with 3 basic things that always surprise me and get to me a bit (a lot?) when I'm traveling in a foreign country. This doesn't include the US which is may as well be the same as traveling in Canada (well, the more urban areas anyway).

Disclaimer: Parts of this blog post contain graphic details.

1. Toilets. When I first arrived in Italy with Scott, we met a guy who had just arrived in Europe from the US for the first time. His girlfriend warned him about the toilets, so he brought a massive pack of toilet seat covers to show those toilets who's boss. However, in a lot of Italy the toilets have the seats removed! Needless to say, he got owned. I'm not sure why the seats are removed, but they're standard north american style of toilets, just with no seat, so you kind of need to do a half squat above the toilet, or seriously mummify the thing with a ton of toilet paper.

In a lot of western Europe you need to pay to use the toilets, this was a bit annoying as we always had to carry change with us just in case, though after using a free toilet in Spain, we were more than happy to drop a bit of change for clean crapping.

In Hungary, for whatever reason, many of the toilets had a nice little ledge for your, well... to "rest" on prior to being flushed. Not really my thing, but I guess some people like to examine their "stool" prior to flushing.

The apartment I'm living in now has a nice little add-on bidet for the toilet (you can probably get one for /your/ toilet too! (let me know and I'll try and hook you up)). Thus far I've been too afraid to use it. But I did turn it on once to see what would happen. Fortunately my face wasn't anywhere near it when it took a good shot up towards the ceiling. A minor wipe down of the nearby surfaces was necessary.

2. Tissue paper. Nowhere I've been have I been able to find as soft as toilet paper and kleenex as is in North America. Hungary was the worst I've been for both (and I won't go into any more details there, but I'd have been in about as good a shape with a fine sandpaper)... but honestly, soft toilet paper and kleenex are the exception, not the rule. We have spoiled bums in North America.

3. Recycling. I've had to come to grips with throwing out plastic and glass bottles when I'm traveling. Especially when I can't speak the language. South Africa may as well have had no recycling at all. Now in Buenos Aires, there's clearly recycling, but I just haven't been able to crack the system yet. This might seem a silly thing to be bothered by (in my top 3), but really, I cringe every time I have to throw out something that I know can be recycled, a small part of me dies inside. (Maybe a spanish speaker can provide me with a script en espanol with how to get more info about it :) ).

DrupalCon Hungary

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As per usual, prior to leaving in August I had all these great hopes that I'd actually update my blog while I was traveling. However, and for some reason this always happens, it turns out there's other things I'd rather do in a foreign country than update my blog and post photos to flickr.

Overall the trip was great, I enjoyed this DrupalCon a lot more than Boston's, but I'd say I had a better time in Barcelona last year.

Anyway, I've posted a bunch of photos from the trip and of the NowPublic dev team here.

I also did a couple short photo walks around Szeged and Budapest, will be posting those shortly.

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