On a lighter note...*grin*....thought I'd share my typical European (the Netherlands) weekend...you might be surprised at the differences...
It starts up on Friday morning, when we go to the market in town. This is a working market...stalls for everything from fruits and vegies, cheese and meats, fish, baked goods to textiles and clothing. We do our shopping for the weekend every week on Fridays. We greet and chat with many friends who are there, as well, and may go to a small cafe nearby for a cup of coffee. The rest of Friday is spent doing chores...and organizing all of our purchases...cleaning/debonning the fish, sorting the baked goods, preparing the fruits (the pineapple right now is sooooo sweet!). Friday evening we may go visiting to friends, or have them come for a glass of wine, or dinner (sometimes one leads into the other...*grin*...the living style is very flexible here).
Saturday is usually a trip to a swapmeet or antique market. While we are there, the habit is to take a break and have frietes (french fries) or maybe a broodje croquette...maybe a cup of hot chocolate. This can take anywhere from 2 to 8 hours of our day. We then return home for dinner, either home or out with friends.
Sunday is the different day. There are very few grocery stores open (if any), and no other types of stores, unless it is a special 'shopping Sunday'. 20 years ago, when I first started visiting, there was nothing open to buy things except the shops in the gas stations (think AM/PM market). This requires planning on Friday and Saturday to make sure that everything is bought for things to do on Sunday. Or, the restaurants are open...and, the biggest thing, other than the churches, that are open are the museums. We have a card that gives us free admission to most Dutch museums. My favorite, the music box museum, is a short train ride away, and they give docent-led tours that allow us to hear the actually boxes being played.
With all of this, we don't use our car very much. To the swapmeets usually, if they are far. Or to drive to the train station when the weather is bad. But, mainly, our normal mode of transportation is by bike. So is it for our friends. This only gets tricky when too much wine is consumed, and then the ride home in the dark can be a challenge (I have fallen more often than I like to think...*grin*...luckily the wine keeps me from too serious a fall).
As I travel to other countries, I enjoy seeing the similarities and the differences in lifestyle. Spain, for instance, usually doesn't start dinner until 10pm. Greece, you can spend 3-4 hours at the table....eating things (as we did on Crete) as they became ready out of the kitchen, enjoying the company and the friendliness of the patrons around us. France...many places are closed between 1pm and 2pm for 'rest'. My beau and I seek out the non-tourist places to go...and will only think about the 'tourist menu' in a place where we can't read the language. But, even then, the small restaurant owners are usually so proud, they will 'speak' with us thru pictures and hand signals. Most countries the water served is ok, but we always bring Immodium just in case, and there are some of the poorer countries where we just order a liter bottle of 'still' water (without bubbles).
So, that is a bit of my experience...I have learned to embrace the differences, but at first, I will say, I used to become overloaded and look for something familiar. In China, for instance, I ordered just white rice for dinner one evening...*grin*. My beau and I have learned that included in every trip is as least one 'rest' day...where we don't do anything too much, recharge and ready for the next day's adventure.
We have met so many, many wonderful people on our travels, both the residents and fellow travelers. Sure, we have encountered some nasty people (EasyJet in Italy), but it, too, is just part of the experience. I wouldn't change my life for the world!!!!