In an attempt to save some money, I booked a 1-stop flight from Vancouver to Paris, with a connection in Zurich. Little did I know, my European experience would start the moment I boarded my flight to Switzerland. Suddenly, the cultural practices that I had only seen on TV before, and some that I had never even heard about, became real before my eyes.
1. Even in a public places like onboard an airline where strangers must share a small space for many hours, Europeans are not shy about showing displays of affection. I sat beside two couples who constantly kissed, stroked each other’s hair, and whispered tenderly into their lovers’ ears. Although I tried to look away most of the time, it didn’t seem to affect anyone else. What they say is true, Europeans are full of romance.
2. It’s never too early or too late for alcohol. When the attendants came around with their drink carts, I also noticed that everyone, except me and the 8 year-old seated one row behind me, ordered alcohol. The preferred beverage was definitely beer, with the exception of a few passengers who asked for wine. And unlike the Canadian or American airlines, the alcohol was free of charge on European carriers.
3. Before and after every meal served, the flight attendants came around offering bread. They served bread once preceding the meal, 3 times while passengers were eating, and once more after people had finished. Luckily for me, delicious bread is a definitely a cultural practice I can get used to.
Having had little sleep the night before, I drifted in and out of sleep the entire plane ride. But 7 hours into the flight, the captain suddenly switched on his speakers, “We are surrounded by these beautiful lights outside.” The passenger beside me lifted the window covers and there they were, we were flying through Northern Lights. The lights danced in the sky, changing shapes in the night. The entire plane was mesmerized. In that moment, I was surrounded by Europeans full of romance, passion, and culture, and I was watching nature’s own theatre unfold in the sky.
Europe, here I am.