- Accessible infrastructure is not a priority. What this means is that sometimes there are no elevators, or they are hard to find. A lot of sidewalks do not gradually connect with the road in many countries and a lot of stores and restaurants have steps and no alternative, and while I have seen many wheelchair accessible washrooms – they are not a given. Plus, in many countries like Hungary, they usually keep them locked with a key because they do not see it as just as important as regular toilets (all they see is less toilets to clean). I must admit that more economically developed countries like Germany are better for accessibility but it is still not where is should be especially if you come from a North America.
- Just like accessibility baby changing areas are not a priority. If you a lucky enough to be in a place that has them, they still tend to be in the women’s bathroom. Luckily, they also tend to be in the wheelchair accessible bathroom if you can open it. As for breastfeeding, GOOD LUCK!!
- You may have to pay to use the washroom and don’t assume that just because you’ve paid for it means that it is clean. Even in places like McDonalds you may have to pay to use the washroom if you aren’t buying anything. If you do not want to pay, my tip would be to go to a nicer restaurant that is a bit empty and ask to use the washroom there (they are usually pretty nice about it).
- Customer Service means getting what you asked for, it doesn’t mean being polite. There are a lot French stereotypes than come with this saying but I find that in Europe in general they don’t feel the need to be super nice to you even when you are the one paying for what they are offering, So, don’t overthink it if the customer service is appalling to you. Just be assertive if it is not what you asked for.
- Begging can be highly organized. You may encounter gypsies for the first time here, and while there are a lot of unfair negative stigma s and stereoptypes for them (I personally go out of my way to treat them equally)… if you step back you will see how highly organized they are in terms of begging so be aware of the fact that the poor woman with the baby begging for money might have a sort of pimp that she has to give her money to. I usually give grocery items to them.
Anyways, come over and enjoy yourself it really is a great and interesting place to be!