Friday, May 07, 2010
There are a few formidable ties between all the destinations I have been to over the last few years.
Without fail, there is always. Always. An Irish pub. Any city, any culture.
Even in Jerusalem. And Istanbul.
The locals will laugh at you if you dress like a stereotype.
Parisians openly pointed and cackled when I walked the city wearing my red beret and blue stripes, just short of a baguette stuffed under my armpit.
There's always one freak on the local public transport.
Public transport allows you to mix with all facets of the population. Rich people, clever people, conservative people, and people who are fucked in the head. It usually comes in the form of an older man who is either drooling/talking to everyone animatedly/eating something that smells really shonky in a cramped space/is hitting on you.
From Berlin to Buenos Aires, freak watching on the train is a discerning activity.
If a country has undergone a tragic past, you don't talk about it over dinner.
South Africans in London don't usually talk about Apartheid. In Germany, you don't mention za vorre. In Argentina, you don't ask about the Falkland Islands. In Israel, unless you want to be in the crossfire of a debate for 4 days running, don't say the word 'Palestine.'
Sometimes it's better to eat the local food without asking what it is.
In Luxembourg I'm pretty certain I ate horse. God knows what my bowel system digested in Thailand and Mexico.
You'll always rub shoulders with at least one German tourist in any given destination.
The Krauts travel. Not all of them wear socks and Crocs, but they'll have TripAdvisor RSS feeds being relayed onto their phone, or at the very least, a laminated Lonely Planet guide.
Sometimes you'll bump into an American. Who has actually left his state.
They're ridiculously loud, but you'll probably end up drinking with them even if it wasn't your intention in the first place.
Italian food is global food.
Everyone can, and has, eaten Italian. Even in the far reaches of Siberia, they know what a pizza is. At least now that the iron curtain has fallen.
Unless you're gluten intolerant, you've eaten spaghetti.
Therefore, wherever you go, be it Malaysia or Zanzibar, you'll have at least two pizzas or a pasta putenesca just by default. Even if you're dead on only eating local food.
That said, Italian food in Italy is different.
It's fucking to die for. Thin crusts, gooey cheese, oily olives. This is still usurped by French food though, it has to be said. French flavours are so delicate, and orgasmically silken to the palette.
I don't drink beer, except when I'm travelling.
For two reasons: it's cheaper, and it's tastier. At least in Germany, Belgium and Ireland if you include Guinness. Can't afford to drink much else on the Euro anyway. Belgian and German beer is a culture on its own. Even if you do come home looking like the Oros Man.
In Muslim countries, alcohol is ridiculously overpriced. Alcohol will take you to the ninth level of hell, I believe. Just after sodomy.
As in, you'll pay more for half a glass of watered down piss than your starter, main and dessert put together. In Istanbul we had aneurysms over our restaurant bills.
In Mediterranean countries, smoking is still a national sport. Even with smoking bans.
In Greece, you can walk practically stroll through the airport with a gaff in your mouth. In Italy and France, you smoke at the cafes, even if the next table is jammed into your knee. In England, you don't smoke anywhere.
Most countries, a higher percentile at least, follow soccer than any other sport.
If you know a bit about ball dribbling, there's your ice breaker right there. And everyone, EVERYONE, asks about the World Cup and South Africa. Obviously.