Eastern Europeans are proud of their well-developed traditions regarding hospitality, and many foreigners are surprised at displays of generosity and goodwill. When you travel to any of the countries in Eastern Europe, don’t be surprised to be invited into homes, offered drinks, or given gifts. While their initial motivation might be curiosity about foreigners, Eastern Europeans really know how to show a guest a good time. However, a word to the wise—this can sometimes get you into situations you’d rather not be in.
Sharing drinks is just a part of getting to know someone in Eastern Europe. If you prefer not to drink, be firm and polite about it, and refuse alcohol from the start. Once the first drink is poured, you’ll find your glass filled with another . . . and another . . . and another.
If you visit the house of a new friend, be sure not to say that you like something that they own—they are likely to give it to you!
If you happened to be served something that you find unpalatable while dining at someone’s house, your best bet is to eat it anyway. Serving guests the best and most expensive food is often a point of pride in Eastern European households, and you risk offending your host—or worse, hurting his or her feelings. Fortunately, bread is an almost constant accompaniment to any meal, so when the fish is too fishy or the caviar too salty you have something with which to smother the flavor.
Give in Return
Something small to show your appreciation of your host’s hospitality is one of the best ways to express your understanding of his or her culture. Postcards of your own country, your favorite snack, or chocolates are always good gifts.
When you travel to Eastern Europe, don’t be surprised at the hospitality the people will show you—but do be grateful!