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When the hell do you tip in Europe?: a continental conversation on gratuity history and convention abroad

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 24, 2008 in Travel Tips

I came to Europe staunchly under the impression that I didn’t have to tip.

That’s supposed to be an American conception. You know the tired old argument: Americans like letting the market dictate wages, so you have to hustle for your dollar, while the Europeans believe in a base standard for everyone. I’m not here to argue which is better.

I was just psyched on seeing something in a menu, ordering it, getting it and peacing.

Boy, did things get a lot more complicated than that.

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American sports gear, baseball hats displayed in Europe

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 13, 2008 in Foreign Perspectives

A selection of hats to buy in a Vienna, Austria Foot Locker on Oct. 23, 2008.

When traveling big European cities, you’ll likely see more New York Yankees hats than any other. Those hats represent too many things not to be so prevalent.

It is our country’s largest and most culturally present city. The Yankees - despite recent failings - were long a brand of consistent dominance in the sport long considered the most American of games. Their very name - the Yankees - is slang still used by some to refer, mostly playfully, to us. It’s a chance for teenagers in Budapest to seem international and for Swedish seniors to note family relations abroad.

Sean and I took a particular interest in the global politics of sport brands, particularly the baseball hat. We took copious notes on the subject. Those Yankees hats were most popular, but they certainly weren’t alone.

We were about to escape Brussels, which seemed the most European of the big Euro-metropolises we, without seeing a single American sports emblem. Then I spotted the bus driver. He had a Phillies hat, the Philadelphia baseball team on its way to its first World Series championship in nearly 30 years.

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When visiting, how a city isn’t a country

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 12, 2008 in Commentary

WDSTL at Tour Eiffel by We Don't Speak The Language.

I haven’t really been to the United Kingdom or England or whatever you’d like to call it. I spent less than a week in London, the country’s most populous city and de facto capital. That doesn’t offer much insight into the English mentality. Come to think of it, five days doesn’t allow me to know much about London itself.

I am on year five living in Philadelphia. I started out in a secluded dormitory for the city’s largest university, before renting out the ground floor of a fine rowhome in the Lower Tioga neighborhood.

I don’t know Philadelphia.

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Graffiti around the world: How the Philadelphia creation of tagging has gone global

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 11, 2008 in Experiences

Graffiti in a skatepark in Brussels, Belgium. The Philadelphia creation has gone global.

Graffiti in a skatepark in Brussels, Belgium. The Philadelphia creation has gone global.

Graffiti is global.

We’ve spotted some great tags across Europe, more so than in even a city like Philadelphia, where the very concept developed - more on that below.

Check a slideshow of some of the best on Flickr.

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Choosing your destination: Europe a ‘dusty museum’

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 8, 2008 in Travel Tips

A photo I took of the Coliseum in Rome March 2007.

A photo I took of the Coliseum in Rome March 2007.

More than a year ago I wrote a commentary piece for The Temple News, the college newspaper of my alma mater Temple University, deriding the European continent as location of choice for young travel.

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European city name changes in English: exonyms you should know before backpacking

Posted by Christopher Wink on Nov 4, 2008 in Education

Sean overlooking the city of Prague, Czech Republic on stairs leading to the city castle on Oct. 25, 2008.

Sean overlooking the city of Prague, Czech Republic on stairs leading to the city castle on Oct. 25, 2008. To the rest of the world, Prague is Praha, one of many cities with varied names according to language.

I may have brought us somewhere very differently, and we might not have ever taken that train.

Sean and I wanted to go north into the nordic, so I was in charge of reserving us seats on a morning train from Berln, Germany to Copenhagen, Denmark.

I was frustrated to find there wasn’t a single train going from the German capital to its northern peer. Until I remembered a lesson.

Native European languages have very different takes on their geographical distinctions than we have in English.

There is no place called Copenhagen. The capital of Denmark is, of course, København - and trains run there quite regularly, thank you very much.

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In Europe, even the mannequins are good looking

Posted by Sean Blanda on Nov 2, 2008 in Experiences

It’s no secret that Europe and America have different moral compasses when it comes to sexuality. Nudity is allowed on the BBC while on American television you’re one wardrobe malfunction away from millions of dollars in fines. In Europe we’ve seen billboard advertisements leaving nothing to the imagination, and even passed an art gallery in Berlin where the paintings in the window would be considered pornographic in the States (lets just say, shopping carts were involved).

In Eastern Europe this was especially true in store displays as the plain faced American mannequins became seductive life sized models, complete with nipples and a seductive look. If you have bad vision you may think you’ve wandered into the Red Light District all over again.  The following were seen in Vienna:


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European flag similarities

Posted by Christopher Wink on Oct 30, 2008 in Commentary

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A country’s flag is integral to nation-building, identity fostering. It’s a shame so many are so lame.

In Europe, where much of this world’s geopolitical structure developed - for better or worse - you might think their flag choices would be more fun, or at least original.

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