I got a really interesting book from the library yesterday. It's entitled "The Travelers' Guide to European Customs and Manners: How to converse, dine, tip, drive, bargain, make Friends and Conduct Business while in Europe" by Nancy Braganti and Elizabeth Devine
Here are some things I learned, they are either actual quotations from the book or they may be expressed in my own words. :)
Good topics of conversations are: the city your visiting; history; architecture; gardening; and the positive aspects of the British role in world affairs, both past and present.
Also note that instead of saying that they're going to "call someone" they say that they're going to "ring up".
The people love to talk and will make you feel welcome within minutes-seconds if they find out your of Irish decent.
Irish drivers tend to ignore the lines separating lanes, and in the country they often drive down the center of the road.
Keep in mind that the Irish are not very time conscious and may not be punctual for an appointment. Someone who offers to meet you in five minutes will be more likely turn up in half an hour.
It's rarely warm enough to wear shorts in Ireland.
Don't worry about offending anyone in Ireland by using the wrong fork or forgetting to shake hands. The Irish have survived blows more severe than than a lapse in protocol.
In the Netherlands:
Don't chew gum or have your hands in your pockets when you speak to someone.
Also, in a store a clerk waits on one customer at a time and even escorts them to the door. Never interrupt a store clerk even if your in a big hurry.
Coffee is a really popular drink in the Netherlands. Every year one restaurant is awarded with having the best in the country.
If you are shopping in a French market never handle the produce. The vendor will fill your order and will not appreciate you squeezing his produce.
The French are generally modest and may not take a compliment in the way that you would expect.
The French are well informed in the history of other European countries.
They love table conversation and may spend hours talking together at dinner.
There are no speed limits on highways!
Be punctual, they consider this very important.
There are many countries covered in this book but I've only read these sections so far. I would love to visit these countries and I like learning how an American ought to act in them.
One other thing, you need to avoid the American greeting "Hi"- "Hello" is more appropriate!
If you live or have visited a country other than the US I would love to learn about it. What were your favorite things about it? What were the things that you didn't like? What was the food like? The people? The cars? What things did you find interesting?
If you are like those of us who have never set foot out of the United States where would you like to visit and why? So "ring me up" and share your stories!:D