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How to ride on public transportation in Europe…

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I've decided to give a new feature a test drive, so please let me know what you think! This new feature shall be hereby known as #tipsytuesday and will consist of me sharing insightful insights (how's that for insightful?) on the way the world works, how to do things (yes, this is a spin off on my old "How-To Tuesday feature), and well… stuff. 

… aaaaaaan this inaugural #tipsytuesday post has nothing to do with the photographs of our day in Barcelona, but I did write it on the train into the city, so I feel like it's fair game: 

… because Europeans tend become animals of an entirely different colour on the train… 

The most important thing to remember is to: get on the train calmly, find your own personal space, and sit there in a bubble of your own personal solitude for the duration of your ride… but in case you require more direction, please read on: 

1) In the case that you happen to make eye contact with someone, you have 2 options: look away immediately (trying to connect with another human being in this way is shameful!) or glare with open hostility at the other person (how dare they try to grace your presence with theirs).

2) When buskers hop on and try to make your long, smelly, quiet commute just a bit happier, resist all urges to dance, bob, or hum. All swaying should be limited to that caused by the movement of the train.

3) Headphones are a must. If you are not plugged in, you had better be at least 70 years old and reading a newspaper, or everyone will know that you're either too cheap/poor to own a tiny, music spewing machine or you're just a nerd. This is funny, because I am writing this headphone-less on an iPhone while on the train. Guess that makes me some kind of nerd.

4) No matter how lost you are, do not stand in front of, stare at, gesture to or even acknowledge the line maps that are usually posted above the doors of your tram car. This will immediately peg you as an outsider and can 1: make you look, again, like a total dork (locals will be thinking something along the lines of *scoff* "stupid tourist can't memorize all 12 lines of our sophisticated underground system") and 2: on a more serious note, can single you out to pickpockets, creeps, and unsavouries of all other types.

5) If you don't speak the local language or of you speak it with a different accent, don't open your blimey mouth. This is where headphones, use of tiny music-spewing machines that are capable of texting and a crudely devised manner of sign language, probably generated by you and your contemporaries on the spot, will come in handy. If you do happen to open your trap and the locals hear you, you may gain an intense feeling of paranoia every time they and their peers laugh and happen to glance sideways (see point number 1) in your general direction.

6) Above all, laughter is not prohibited. Shame on you for trying to enjoy your train ride.  Stifle your gosh darned joy. No one else wants any part of it. 

In conclusion, if you have not memorized every poster in your tram, you're doing it wrong

… and in case you were wondering about the day in the city, I let my white girl show while drinking Starbucks (real Starbucks!) and was a super tourist riding the hop on-hop off bus all over the city! 

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15 comments on "How to ride on public transportation in Europe… "
  1. Remember when we used to sing Bon Jovi on the way home from work? I'm sure the locals loved us city newbies :)

    1. I certainly do. I think NY locals are probably a bit more used to things of that nature than the Europeans are… unless it's London after midnight on a weekend!

  2. Love the shirt!! Beautiful pictures :)

  3. Lol, great post honey. I enjoyed reading it. Was it really that bad? Thx for the gorgeous pics.

  4. Bahaha - I've only been onpublic transport in The UK - London was just like your rules here - but Manchester and Liverpool was the opposite! We got into converstaions with strangers on the train and the bus driver made a New Zealander and Welsh joke about sheep! So I guess it's relative to city size ;-)

    ♥ Paula Shoe Fiend.

    1. I've found that in London on weekends after midnight, the rules loosen up a bit, but that's just because all the upright citizens have already gone home!

  5. Hahaha Loved the tips! For number one you should have added not to smile at strangers. I remember we were told that by our study abroad advisers because French men take that as an open invitation to creepily approach you. Number 5 really didn't matter in Paris though since the French rarely care about what others are doing, plus I'd always hear up to 3 languages being spoken at a time in the metro. Number 3 is a must! Headphones are an essential for public transportation.


    1. Yep! No smiles allowed! I should have definitely included that! I find myself sometimes smiling at my German neighbors and they just glare at me. I can't help it! I'm a smiley creature by nature!

  6. This post makes me miss barcelona so much and you look gorgeous !

  7. Haha I am still laughing while typing my comment!
    I am not from Spain but from Germany and there it's exactly the same with the "transportation rules".
    I enjoyed reading!