Europe has a rich cultural history reflected in its music, art, food, and architecture. Because of this heritage, many things are uniquely European and easy to identify. A person on an online travel forum asked other users what they believed were the most European things ever, and some of the responses were surprising.
1. Castles Everywhere
Having one castle in your town is impressive. Having multiple castles in your village is astounding, yet for Europeans, they’re just a part of the landscape that they see every day. A person on the thread boasted of having a view of two castles from their house, one from their living room window and the other from their kitchen window.
2. Going to the Neighboring Country To Shop
Thanks to Europe’s open borders policy, residents can take a casual shopping trip to a neighboring country the way Americans visit a mall in the town adjacent to where they live. The freedom to travel between countries without a passport or having to encounter border patrol is second nature to Europeans.
Thanks to the educational systems in Europe, it’s not unusual for its citizens to speak more than one language, specifically their native language and English. A commenter on the thread jokes, “A person who speaks three languages is called ‘trilingual.’ A person who speaks two languages is called ‘bilingual.’ Someone who only speaks one language is called ‘American.’”
4. Walkable and Bikeable Cities
The development of European cities occurred centuries before the invention of cars. Their build is in a manner that is very friendly to walkers and bicycle riders. Conversely, many newer American cities were constructed around vehicles, making their streets difficult for walkers and bicyclists to travel safely.
If you’ve never heard of Eurovision, you’re not alone. An international song competition similar to American Idol, Eurovision is a distinctly European phenomenon. Eurovision is a secret guilty pleasure, according to this user, who claims, “It started as a very formal song contest and gradually turned into a festival of politically charged kitschy Europop. Everybody watches it, but nobody wants to admit it.”
6. Cobblestone Streets
In the United States, seeing a small section of a city with historic cobblestone streets is not unusual. For example, cobblestone streets are present near the Liberty Bell in the Old City section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Because European cities predate the U.S., there are cobblestone streets everywhere.
7. Parental Leave
European countries provide paid and unpaid leave for mothers and fathers to care for newborns and older children, depending on the country. A contributor to the thread details the parental leave policy in their country: “Here in France, it’s sixteen weeks for moms (six weeks before and ten after the birth), and for dads, it’s twenty-eight days. Sure, after, we can take six months each, but it’s unpaid.”
While these traffic circles are polarizing in the United States (people either love or loathe them), they are used throughout the European Union to control traffic in small towns and busy metropolitan areas.
9. Ancient Architecture Everywhere
Europe’s ancient cities have architectural marvels that are hundreds of years old. A person on the thread marvels at the current use of classical buildings: “Having pubs, schools, random post office buildings…older than any construction in America.” Another user writes, “Casually having buildings from millennia ago around you all the time.”
10. Holidays in the Canary Islands
Vacationing in the Canary Islands is a uniquely European tradition, with people saving their four weeks of paid leave to take an extended holiday at the Spanish island chain every July and August.
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