top of page
  • sunshine1920


UK & Europe VS North America

I know this isn’t the update you were expecting, but we aren’t quite ready yet.  In the meantime, I thought it would be interesting to look back at some of the differences we encountered between North America and Europe.  Just simple things that caught our interest.  Not every place we visited was the same, but these were common differences we noticed.  I tried to take some photos but didn’t get as many I'd hoped as this was kind of an afterthought.

We stayed in several Airbnb’s throughout our travels and most of them were in apartment buildings.  Buildings are numbered starting with 0 on the ground floor, so if you are staying on the 3rd floor, you need to go up 4 flights of stairs.  This is the same for hotels and businesses from what we saw. The doors into the apartments couldn’t be opened without the key and the key would turn several times in the lock to engage/disengage multiple deadbolts.  It made for great security if a little confusion at first; the key just kept turning, but the door wouldn’t open. The keys for the apartment doors were often large and cumbersome, but not always.  Some of the houses we pet sat at had very old doors that had large keys as well.

We found the windows in Europe really interesting.  Many of them had a lever handle on the side of the frame.  When you turned the lever 90 degrees the window would open like a door and if you turned it 180 degrees it would tilt open at the top for ventilation.  Of course, not a single place we visited had bug screens in the windows, they were all just open air.  Several places we stayed had metal roller shutters on the outside of the windows in lieu of curtains.  Some were electric and others were manual.

Bidets were of course quite common, throughout Italy especially, despite the tiny bathrooms.  Also, we noticed that the bathrooms did not have vent fans in Europe.  Sometimes there were windows that opened, but other times there were not.   In the UK the bathrooms did have fans; although, some of them really didn’t seem to do anything.

Public toilets in many of the large tourist cities are paid.  Sometimes up to 2 euros to enter.  There were free public toilets in France similar to the ones in New Zealand that auto clean between uses. 

We purposely chose Airbnb’s with washing machines in order to keep up with our laundry; however, dryers were only a thing in the UK.  Occasionally, we would find a place with a combo unit, but they don’t work very well.  They wash great, but the drying cycle takes for ever.  Most places had some sort of clothing rack to hang your clothes to dry, but often we ended up with wet clothes spread all over the apartment.  In a few places we stayed the washers were installed out on the balcony of the apartment which was interesting.  It’s amazing what you can get away with when you don’t get temperatures below freezing.  As for the washers, they are tiny compared to what we use in North America.

Closets in bedrooms were not something we saw until Scotland and even there it was only in the new home we pet sat in.  Most places just had stand alone wardrobes in the bedrooms and more often than not they were from Ikea.

The primary source of heat in most places in Europe is a heat pump.  Some places have them in each room, others have only one depending on the size of the space.  They work great in the climates we were in.  They tend to be much less efficient below -20 Celsius.

One of the things we struggled with the most was the late meals.  Many European countries eat their evening meal after 8pm.  This means that local restaurants aren’t even open until 7:30pm or later, unless they are catering to tourists.  We found this to be way too late for us which meant we often just chose to stop at the grocery store on the way home after a day of exploring.  Luckily, there are grocery stores on every corner in the cities in Europe.  Some are small and don’t have a ton of selection, but they are definitely convenient.  In Italy in particular we didn’t find many options that were not Italian, but France had a great multicultural selection.

The cars in Europe are very small and full-sized trucks are extremely rare.  If you are looking to rent a vehicle, it is more affordable to get a manual and sometimes automatics are not even available.  They really love their roundabouts in Europe, so if you aren’t comfortable driving in them, I’d avoid driving. Luckily, public transportation is great in most places and the train services through the Schengen Zone are next level.  We often chose trains over flights; although, if you are travelling without luggage flights can be ridiculously cheap in Europe.

We found these subtle differences interesting and wanted to share them.  It’s funny how something seems so normal until it’s not available and how quickly you adjust. I think the only thing I really missed was being able to dry our clothes, but really it wasn't that big of a deal.

Hopefully we'll have some more interesting adventures to share soon! In the meantime we're trying to enjoy the weather...


Recent Posts

See All

1 comentário

07 de mai.

Thanks for sharing I find it veryInteresting !

bottom of page