Think Like a European
The key to really experiencing a place is to explore like a native if you can. Its so much more fun when you are approachable and not screaming, “Hey, I am a tourist”. I spend a lot of time avoiding other tourists from the states as I find that if I am in a group, the locals tend to not talk to you so much. It’s not too bad in larger cities, but when you get into the villages the locals will ignore you and not interact unless they are running a service business. I actually love talking to people about their home and what they are doing. Yes, we still have an American Tourist stigma to battle, folks. So don’t go walking in and demand that the place be run like it is in America. Things to be aware of can have a cultural basis, like going to a traditional pub in Ireland in the west and not getting the gentlemen’s area and nook for ladies kind of thing. Yes, I can be a brazen feminist, but still it’s not my local, it’s theirs.
Other things to think about are resources like electricity and heating hot water. Many places have at the source heating for the shower or taps. You need to pull the chain or flick a switch to heat your water. In the US many have been converting to at the source heating, but it is not a switch operated device like in many hotels and guest places. Everything is about conserving resources, something many in the US take for granted. Your plugs for electricity require you to turn them on.