Sunday, February 25, 2007

Road to nowhere

This expedition relies on your town having public transport. If you don’t even have a few buses, maybe you could spend the day lobbying your local MP for better public services instead.

If you do have transport, buy yourself a day pass and get on whatever bit of it goes closest to your home (if you have to drive somewhere more central and park the car, then go right ahead and do that). Stay on the bus, tram or whatever until it gets to the end of the line, or you see something you want to have a look at, or you get to a spot where you intersect with another route. Get off, have a look around, take some photos and pick up a few more suburban souvenirs, go into a strange cafe, shop or bar, then hop on the next bus that comes along and keep going. Continue until it’s dark, or you’re too bored to continue.

Try not to deliberately choose destinations. If you have a lot of buses, trains or trams to choose from, don’t read their destination sign: just choose the first that comes along. And remember to keep your ticket! You’ll want a souvenir.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Meet the locals

If you’re like most people, you go out to the same few places every weekend. You consider yourself a certain type of person, so you go to a certain type of club, bar or pub.

It’s time for a change.

Where’s the drinking hole you’re least likely to visit? (If it’s because it’s incredibly dangerous, cross it off your list and choose the second-least likely.) This Saturday night, you’re going there.

On your visit, keep in mind the most important tenet of travel: respect the local customs and learn from them.

How do the locals dress? Dress similarly, so as not to offend them (if they wear striped shirts and lots of hair product, don’t show up in your torn Dead Kennedys t-shirt; if they like retro handbags and liquid eyeliner, don’t wear your old tracksuit). Observe their customs and ways of behaving and try to fit in (drink complicated cocktails if that’s what they’re drinking; if they prefer Carlton Draught, so do you). Try to talk to the regulars – you never know what you might learn about horse racing, construction work, snagging a rich husband, beach volleyball or what that guy from Pavement is up to these days.

Be open-minded and tolerant. Just because they do things differently, doesn’t mean they’re wrong. And enjoy your cultural experience.