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Tuesday Travels: Traveling Europe is NOT for Rules-Followers

My entire life has been about following the rules.  I am a stickler for rules, and feel that most of the of time, they are the only way.  I lived my life this way, taught my child this way, and taught my students with this mentality.  While occasionally I found reasons to encourage rule changes, even that could be done in a rule-following manner.  And then I traveled to Europe...
How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!
Our first train ride on our European trip! Photo (c) by Michele Luck.
Most Europeans live by rules that are drastically different than my own.  We encountered this from our first step onto the ship to take our transatlantic passage, and it was reinforced almost every step along the way.  The greatest example of this was their lack of respect for the line, or que.

As a dedicated Disney visitor, I am all about the proper line.  Everyone steps in line, and they wait patiently for their turn.  In Europe, there is no such thing.  We experienced this getting on trains, waiting to enter tourist attractions, hoping to fill our breakfast plate from the buffet, checking in at hotels, being surrounded by cigarette smoke as we struggled to be free, and even in wishing to take that perfect, once in a lifetime picture.

Now laughable moments include:
  • Steve standing in what he took for a line to the creme puffs for desert, only for an Italian gent to step in and grab all 6 remaining on the serving plate at the same time.  Walking away, and stuffing his mouth, with no regret.
  • My shouting match outside the train with the chimney of a German gentleman who argued his position while I just wanted to get on the train through the door he was blocking.
  • Our standing in a "3 hour" line at the Palace of Versailles (with our "skip the line tickets") only to see others join the que in groups of 10 or more in front of us as we slowly edged toward the gates.  We eventually gave up on this, seeing we would spend days there, and saw the gardens instead. 
    How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!
    Palace of Versailles after we gave up the line.  Photo (c) by Michele Luck.
  • Being told on our MSC cruise to Greece that the noise from the neighboring room well after midnight EVERY NIGHT was allowable because our neighbors "are an Italian family." (Stated with a shrug and a smile.)
  • Being felt up (if they only knew they were grabbing foam!), butt groped, and literally picked up and moved with the crowd pushing through to see the smiling Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  
And the insults to rule-breaking continued from city to city and country to country.

Arriving in the Vatican City, and heading to the Sistine Chapel, we hoped there would be order and rules-enforcement, if nothing else but in the name of the church!   And were were happy to see rules clearly posted about camera use, those ever swinging selfie-sticks, and even the use of the correct line for entrance.
How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!
Lines outside Vatican. Photo (c) by Steve Luck.
Still, the movement through the Museum was a shoving match, or cattle herd, to say the least.  But Steve and I resisted the urge to push ahead or to cut in front of those not paying attention.  We waited our turn.  Rules-following, we vowed, would be our way. 
How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!
Vatican Museum Hallway to Sistine Chapel. Photo (c) by Michele Luck.
And finally, there it was.  I stepped through a door to see THE CEILING OF THE SISTINE CHAPEL.  Right above my head was the works of Michelangelo.  All of his greatness surrounded me and filled my mind with images of the scaffolding holding him in the air as he painting while laying on his back.

I pulled out my phone to begin taking all the pictures I could possibly take while being moved through the room with the crowd.  And then came the voice... The enforcer... Might as well have been the Pope himself standing there yelling out the words... "NO CAMERAS!  NO PICTURES!  MOVE ALONG!"

Over and over, the guards yelled these words as they stood around the room, surveying the crowd for rule-breakers.  Finally.  But, this was the Sistine Chapel.  This was "The Creation of Adam" above me.  I had to have a picture.  But, I had to follow the rules.  What could I do?

Oh, fine.  I concede.  No one is perfect, and I am weak when it comes to Renaissance art.  So there, in the most amazing chapel on Earth, I pulled out my phone, and very discreetly snapped the pictures.

And what happened?  Nothing punitive.  I was not arrested, ushered to a holding tank, or even taken to the underground for question.  No inquisition at all.  Like many others, I was pushed through the room, snapping pictures from my waist, and ended up back in the outside hall with a collection of images for my album.

But, I have to add... Karma quickly kicked me in the butt for my rule-breaking.  As I scanned through the images, I found the penalty for my disobedience... The pictures suck!  Blurred portraits.  Images of arms or heads.  And another memory of Europe that has to leave me laughing, just so I don't cry!

Now, if you want to see these images, just remember... They were illegally taken, so you, too, would be a rule-breaker in participating in such behavior!  Still, they are posted for your enjoyment - and laughter!
How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!
All Photos (Embarrassingly) (c) of Michele Luck!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

How traveling through Europe is NOT for those who follow the rules!

Happy Traveling!