Man-made marvels can range from being jaw-droppingly awesome to the simple pleasure of drifting down a stream. A good example of this is the idea of a canal. When we think of man-made canals, we tend to think about the Panama or Suez Canal first. But Holland’s Giethoorn should definitely also be your list!
Deciding on when to visit this picturesque Dutch town can be a bit of challenge though, as the canals are known to exhibit different colors and settings during different times of the year.
Giethoorn is a small town that is located in the north of Holland. As you pass through the small town, you’ll feel as though you were literally in an old-fashioned fairytale. The network of canals is beautiful and timeless. The town only contains roughly 2,600 inhabitants – so if you’re looking for a quiet place to settle down on vacation – look no further than Giethoorn.
This place is definitely worth making the tour for and will give you a view into a version of Holland that you’re not likely to find anywhere else in the country.
Giethoorn has more than just it’s amazing canals to offer though. The entire town’s way of life is built around these canals and they’re even known for having the postmen deliver their mail on boats via these canals.
Even though the tiny town might sound like it genuinely is from the 18th century, you’ll find that getting there is quite easy by car (if you’re staying in Amsterdam) and that being able to travel around in the city is just as easy.
While we would definitely recommend booking accommodation for yourself here ahead of your arrival, you’ll find a number of really quaint B&B’s in the town and an atmosphere that is much more peaceful than the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam or Eindhoven. You’ll literally feel like you’ve escaped into a new world after spending a few nights in Giethoorn – not to mention making some real memories from your time in Holland.
The atmosphere and style of the town is definitely a sight for sore eyes and if you’re tired of doing the ‘touristy’ thing, this place should definitely be next on your to-do list.
Here’s a Tip…
Going out to eat is a special event for many people. One of the downsides though is having to calculate an appropriate tip for your server. While this is a common issue for many Americans, tipping isn’t really popular in most parts of the world.
In fact, some countries even consider the practice to be rude! In many countries, restaurant servers do not need to depend on customer tips. Our tip is to always research a country’s tipping practices in order to avoid embarrassing the locals.
Some travelers love to experience the winter season in places that are covered in snow. Most travelers, when planning this type of trip, will probably look at transportation to get from place to place.
Visitors to Finland might be surprised to know that the locals have no problem battling icy roads and frigid weather on their bicycles. It seems that these extreme road conditions don’t bother them one bit.
A lot of countries in Europe have areas where cars are not permitted. This means that there is a higher level of bike riders present in these cities. There is one country however, that will leave travelers awestruck.
For those that take a trip to the Netherlands, you might be shocked to see that the country seems like it has more bikes than it does people! Just take a look at this parking lot full of bikes!
It’s Right Around the Corner
Many less-developed countries are quickly becoming must-see travel destinations for adventurous tourists. One of these is the Central American country of Costa Rica. Just make sure you get the most current and up-to-date directions, otherwise, you might get lost.
It seems that most locations in Costa Rica do not have a standardized address. Instead of using street names and house numbers, addresses are based on proximity to landmarks or general descriptions of the location. If someone changes their house’s color, you might find yourself going the wrong way!
Squat, Don’t Sit!
There is no shortage of unique sights or culture shocks for Westerners visiting Japan. One of the most surprising, however, is found in one of the most common places – a bathroom. Many Japanese homes and buildings have squat toilets known as washiki.
As the name implies, users must squat over the receptacle in order to use it. Many medical experts believe that this unique toilet system is actually healthier, and many users find that these toilets are more hygienic and easier to clean.
In the outskirts of some cities in Ecuador, the houses are designed with a flat roof. We are sure there is a reason for this, but that is not the thing that is the most shocking. It is the individuals that sometimes take up residence on top of those houses.
One traveler was a little shocked by the presence of dogs on all these roofs. After all, cats usually are the climbers, right?
One of the best ways to spend a day in London is by picnicking in one of their many beautiful parks. In fact, many travelers try to do that at least one day, especially when traveling during the summer. These travelers might be a little shocked at what they see when they do this!
There may be some local Londoners doing the same thing, just dressed a little differently. In fact, they might be sunbathing in their underwear, and that could be pretty shocking for some.
Most travelers visiting Japan know that respect is an important part of Japanese culture. The level of respect shown in everyday situations may actually be shocking. Watching people bow to a bus may be pretty eye-popping for a traveler, making them stop right in their tracks.
Not only buses but also stores! Though this is customary, it may be a little strange for foreigners from other cultures. So don’t be shocked if you see this happen on your next trip to Tokyo.
How Are You?
In many cultures across the globe, people take an almost isolationist idea when it comes to walking around town. These places find it strange when strangers say good morning to them or exchange pleasantries.
If you are traveling to a town in the English countryside, don’t be unnerved when strangers greet you! We’re sure that most people prefer to travel to these “friendlier” destinations, especially if you don’t know your way around.
As you travel the world, you are bound to see many natural wonders. Because these places tend to attract a lot of tourists, most countries put up safety precautions like railings or warning signs. Apparently, not all countries think that these safety precautions are necessary.
Iceland wants to allow its visitors the ability to get as close as possible to their beautiful natural attractions. The lack of barriers or other safety features might be surprising for travelers as they get dangerously close to some of these sites.
There are certain physical features that may not be present in some cultures, and because of this, they may be a bit of an attention grabber. For instance, red hair is not super common in Asian countries like Japan.
If you are a redhead and travel to Japan, you might need to get used to people wanting to take a picture with you. The locals may also ask to touch your hair!
No matter where you are in the world, if you are a tea person, you need to find a way to get your fix. Because your time may be limited, you may want to find a place to get a tea on the go.
If you’re in Malaysia, don’t be surprised if you are handed a plastic bag full of tea with a large straw sticking out of it. While we don’t see this type of packaging gaining popularity in the United States, it does seem pretty convenient.
When you travel in a country with vastly different cuisine from your home country, you might want to play it safe when eating at restaurants. This traveler tried to do that and then found out that he was eating it all wrong.
Just like cultures and cuisines are different, sometimes the way foods are eaten can be different too. It seems that in Belarus, you eat rice with a fork and not a spoon.
A Little Too Open…
While many cultures find it natural to make small talk with strangers, others find this behavior to be very strange. New Zealanders, or Kiwis as they are often called, are known for their openness and friendliness.
Visitors to this country are often surprised by how candid and laid-back Kiwis can be. In contrast, Norwegians are often wary of strangers and may take some time to open up. This traveler experienced a bit of culture shock when he learned a bit too much about this Kiwi’s life!
Behind the Curtain
For foreigners visiting a very conservative Muslim country, there may be a lot of cultural shocks in store. The culture may be very different compared to Western countries, but these destinations are still worth the visit thanks to their amazing scenery and history.
If you happen to be traveling during the holy month of Ramadan, you may see many restaurants covered with thick curtains. During Ramadan, observers must abstain from eating and drinking during the day. Out of respect, many restaurants will put up curtains.
So Many Sweets
No matter which country you’re in, you are bound to run into a few pastry shops. Of course, when you think of pastries and sweets, most people automatically think of France. the country seems to boast an absurd number of pastry shops and bakeries.
It might shock some tourists to see how these bakeries seem to pop up in every city of France. You might think that there are more bakeries than people when visiting here.
In many countries, there is a tradition in which shops close in order for people to rest or have lunch during the middle part of the day. While this might seem strange to many foreigners, it is a long-standing practice in many places.
Known in many places as taking a siesta, the practice is very common in countries like Italy and Spain. While many people know about this tradition, it still shocking to see so many stores close for a couple of hours during the middle of the day.
One of the main reasons many people travel is to experience different types of cuisines. Yet even the most experienced travelers aren’t always prepared for the strange food items they may encounter in their travels.
Many countries tend to be a little more adventurous when it comes to eating different types of things … like insects and reptiles! In Cambodia, it is not uncommon to see these types of snacks being sold by street vendors by the river.
Tokyo has become one of the major destinations for travel because of its combination of technology with tradition. For foreigners, this culture can seem very different. These differences are most obvious in some of the most everyday situations.
For instance, if you’re walking around and have some trash that you want to get rid of, you may find it difficult because there are not a lot of garbage cans floating around. Locals will typically hold onto their garbage until they find an appropriate trash receptacle.
Stay Right Here
When travelers are considering traveling to a new destination, they will typically want to understand how safe a place is. For those that may have been looking to visit Iceland, you may come across some pretty strange stories regarding the country’s reputation as a safe destination.
Apparently, it seems that the country is so safe that people are perfectly fine leaving their babies in strollers outside of stores and restaurants. How crazy is that?
If you’re getting ready to take a trip to Great Britain, you might want to prepare yourself for a little bit of a culture shock. It’s not a terribly inconvenient one, it’s just a little strange, and many people find it kind of surprising.
There are many bathrooms in Great Britain that have sinks in them with two separate faucets. One is for cold, and one is for hot. It will take a little getting used to, but in the end, it all works the same.
When it comes to cultural differences, the idea of food being beautiful is not one that is isolated to any single culture. What might surprise some travelers is the level to which certain cultures will go to make sure their food is more like a work of art.
For those opening up a typical Japanese bento lunch box, don’t be surprised if you find cute little additions or creations out of food to help make the meal a little more beautiful.
One of the hardest things to do when traveling is to make sure you’re getting the right exchange rate for the local currency. In addition to having different change rates, many ATMs and banks will also charge you a fee.
Typically, though, you go to an official money exchange house to do this process. Not in Nicaragua. There you will find people on the side of the roads with huge wads of money and calculators that offer to do the exchange for you. They often provide a better exchange rate.
Slightly Above Freezing
When you come from a cold country, your tolerance of the cold is higher than someone from a warmer climate. So for those traveling to places like Canada, you might be surprised to see people walking around in shorts and T-shirts even when you think it’s freezing.
That’s just because they’re used to it and maybe if you stay long enough, you’ll acclimate as well. We still suggest bringing your coat though!
Let Me Help You
In some countries, there are people who make their living by trying to help tourists in a variety of different ways. For instance, in Egypt, there is something called the baksheesh culture. This is where people help you even if you haven’t even asked them … and then expect tips.
This could be a little bit of a culture shock for people from countries that don’t have this. For this reason, it’s always important to be cautious when traveling.
What Is That?
There are some foods that have made a universal impact. One of the biggest is French fries. You will find this delicious fried snack all across the globe, served in many different ways. Americans may be surprised to learn that not every place serves those delicious potatoes with ketchup.
In fact, for travelers taking a little trip to Germany, it might be surprising to find a dollop of mayonnaise on top of your fries when you order them. Don’t be scared to try it, it’s actually quite delicious!
Underage Candy Eating
Attitudes towards adult beverages are very different depending on the country or culture you are visiting. For instance, it’s not unheard of to find small amounts of these hard drinks in candy that is consumed by young kids in Italy.
In this culture, the laws related to drinking are more relaxed compared to other countries. While this isn’t a shocking or strange thing for Italians, it might be a little strange to foreign travelers.
Cheap Adult Beverages
Many countries, when you visit them, have a particular adult beverage for which they are well known. But for those from foreign countries that tax these types of beverages, it might be shocking for a traveler to find them so cheap.
For instance, in Portugal, you may find that most adult beverages are less expensive than even some purchases. Don’t be shocked, just enjoy it and get a better feel for the local cuisine.
Turkmenistan may not be a well-known tourist destination, but there are some travelers that have begun making their way there. The visa system is challenging, but that is not the only thing that will be shocking to someone visiting.
Tourists will be surprised to learn that until very recently, there were practically no taxis in this country. Today there are very few registered taxis available to tourists. Instead, people stand on the street and offer money to random cars that pass. These random vehicles will get you to where you need to go.
Almost everybody has Egypt on their bucket list of travel destinations. After all, it has a fascinating history and some of the most iconic structures in the world. The awe-inspiring views of this location are nothing compared to the surprise of the traffic situation.
Looking at this traffic, you may think that it seems a lot like organized chaos – there are very few lights, no street signs, and humans and animals alike trying to get across. So how does it all work? Apparently with a little luck!
Let Me Hold That
If you are trying to travel on a budget, you probably will take more than a few buses no matter the place you are traveling. For those going to Armenia, you might want to know that the people are very friendly and nice there.
So nice, that if the buses are crowded, they will offer to hold your bags for you! So don’t freak out, they are not trying to rob you!
Make the Switch
Every city has a time of day where they switch from the daytime customer to the nightlife customer. How this comes to be can be pretty shocking to some travelers that have never experienced this switch over.
If you’re visiting France, don’t be shocked when you see cafes turn into bars after a certain point of the day. That’s right – as soon as the sun goes down, these cafes go from coffee to adult beverages.
Get In Line
In cities within heavily populated countries, you may be shocked at the lack of courtesy that comes when it comes to navigating through these large crowds. For instance, in China, people will bump into you without apologizing or even making eye contact.
This may first make you angry but realize that everyone is doing this, and it was not intended to be offensive action. It seems to be just part of the general commuting culture of the country, there is no need to feel offended.
Depending on where you’re from, you’re probably used to having dinner around 5:00 or 6:00 p.m., which makes taking your kids out with you reasonable. Not all cultures are like that though, many countries have dinner at around nine or even later!
This is a normal time for dinner in countries like Italy and Spain. While you may be surprised to see parents sitting in restaurants with their children at all hours of the night, this is actually a very regular part of the culture.
Sharing Is Caring
Just like there are less than courteous places, there are also countries where courtesy and respect are important parts of their culture. For those who are unaccustomed to this level of consideration, it might be pretty shocking.
For instance, if you are visiting Japan, you will notice how willing they are to share their beverages while offering you refills. It’s also quite common to see people bowing out of courtesy or respect, and bringing a gift when invited to someone’s home.
How Do You Make Tea?
Many cultures enjoy a nice cup of hot tea in the morning or throughout the day. While tea is present in many cultures, there are some cultures that place more importance on this hot beverage.
In these countries, most kitchens have a tea kettle and even a special set of teacups and saucers. Visitors to the United States may find it pretty eye-popping that most American homes do not have a tea kettle, and some people even heat up water for tea in their microwave.
If you’re looking for a place with beautiful beaches and nice warm summer, then Mexico is ideal. There are many great cultural and historical things to see, but there might be something that is shocking to you.
As you walk around, you’ll see many people wearing long sleeves and long pants even though it is almost 100 degrees! While this may seem strange, these longer layers actually help prevent sunburn and keep you cooler.
In the United States, 7-Elevens are not generally known for their variety of food or for their cleanliness. That said, going to a 7-Eleven in Japan is a completely different and surprising experience.
Shockingly enough, in Japan, 7-Eleven is a place that many people go to for prepackaged gourmet lunches and other grocery items. Most foreigners are surprised to find fresh vegetables, salads, and even clothing items. On top of that, Japanese 7-Eleven’s are super clean and even offer free Wi-Fi!
What constitutes a meal can vary from country to country. In some countries, a wide variety of little tapas plates can be a whole meal. While in others, a stack of fried mozzarella sticks could be the main course.
This can be very shocking to some, especially if they’ve never encountered such a thing. While some visitors to the United States might be surprised to see fried mozzarella sticks on a dinner menu, we’re sure they’ll understand as soon as they take a bite out of this popular menu item.
So Much Poverty
Sometimes it’s not so much the food or the culture itself, but rather the environment that is shocking to some travelers. For those who are first-time travelers to India, the disparity between socioeconomic statuses can be quite eye-popping.
After all, you can see these majestic places like the Taj Mahal and then turn around and see people starving on the streets. This level of extreme poverty is not only strange to many but also kind of sad as well.
All About Eyes
In some countries, it is impolite to look someone in the eyes unless you are specifically talking to them or know them. In some Asian countries, direct eye contact can even be seen as aggressive, rude, or even disrespectful.
In the United States, and many other Western nations, eye contact is a vital part of communication. Eye contact during a conversation typically conveys interest, trust, and connection. For this reason, it’s always important to research a country’s social norms before visiting.
There are many culture shocks for foreign travelers when they come to the United States. One thing that foreign visitors will notice is most Americans have cars. Not only are there many cars on the road, but this car culture has also inspired a variety of different types of drive-thru services.
From drive-thru fast-food restaurants to drive-thru wedding chapels, you practically never have to leave your car! While many Americans value the convenience of these speedy services, many visitors may be puzzled to see some of these drive-thru establishments.
Do You Have Change?
Inevitably on your travels, there will come a time where you have to use the restroom. That is where public restrooms come into play. However, many American travelers might be surprised when they get to these public restrooms.
In many European nations, you will find that there are plenty of public restrooms available, but with a catch – these restrooms are available to use for a small fee. In order to use this service, you must typically pay an attendant or deposit your coins in a machine.
For travelers from “younger” nations, there is a big surprise waiting for you when you travel to countries with a longer history. You may find the unique mixture of old and new architecture very surprising.
In some places, like China or even Rome, they will have a wonderful mixture of ancient sites mixed with high-rises and modern shopping centers. It makes for an interesting skyline. It is interesting to see structures with hundreds, or even thousands, of years between them!
Follow the Rules
Dubai is a location that has been gaining in popularity as a travel destination. The country is super clean and has some amazing architecture. Tourists might be surprised at the level of care residents take to follow all the laws.
It’s apparently so safe that you have no reason to fear getting hit by a car as long as you use the crosswalk. These respectful drivers will stop no matter what!