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Travel Philosophy and Advice

The best way to experience another country, is through the eyes of the locals. Spend as much time as you can with them. Also, take time to learn a bit of the language before you visit, so you can interact with the locals in their own language. It will completely change the way you experience the country. It opens more doors, and you truly feel connected with the people.

Research well before you visit, and don't be afraid to venture off the beaten path. Sometimes it's the places and events, that AREN'T in the guide books, that end up being the most interesting. And don't be afraid to try an activity or visit a place even if it doesn't seem like it's for you, because sometimes, the things that seem the least interesting and exciting, turn out to be the most interesting and exciting.

Don't let your perception of a place be clouded by negative stories you hear on the news. Don't get scared off. Do your own research, and know what areas are safe, and what areas to avoid.

The first day is the most important. It will tell you everything.
Whenever I check into a hotel room in a new location, I like to wait 'til it gets dark, and take a walk through town, since that's when things come to life. If you enjoy the place on the first day, you're gonna enjoy the whole trip, and bring back lots of good memories. If you don't enjoy your first day experiences, you're not gonna enjoy the rest of your trip, and leave with a lot of bad memories.

When it comes to asking for directions, I always like to ask students, especially girls, they tend to be the most helpful.

Favorite Place

Greece

The people were the friendliest I've ever met. They were really patient when giving directions, and tried to help you even if they weren't from the area. You could walk into a store or restaurant and ask for directions, and they would tell you. If they saw you video taping something, they immediately liked you, and didn't mind at all being on camera. When I told them I was from America, their faces lit up. And they will give you stuff for free, if they like you. The culture was so lively, and the people were living their regular lives, despite the economic crisis. There is also a sense of freedom in Greece, that we don't have in the U.S. There is no drinking age, no one asks for your ID, you don't have to take off your backpack when you enter a store, and you can come in with nothing but a speedo, and no one will say anything. You can slap a girl's butt, and not get sued for sexual harassment (though I wouldn't recomend it), and every beach is a topless beach. They didn't even check my passport at the border. And police, I barely saw any. It's one of the safest places on earth. The people there are a lot more trusting, then in America.
Food, music, dancing, wildlife, habitat, scenery, ruins and historical sites, churches, beaches, the narrow streets, the language, and the people. I liked everything about that place. The only thing to watch out for are the street lights, crazy drivers, and tricky beggars. Also, the bus system can be a bit confusing, but that's only a minor inconvenience.
The crisis may have effected the economy, but it has not effected the people and culture, which is the most important thing.

Least Favorite Place

Copenhagen

Copenhagen wasn't at all what I expected it to be. For the world's friendliest and happiest country, the people were really rude and grumpy. The city wasn't too bad, but Copenhagen Airport was terrible. The people were extremely rude and unhelpful, and if you were able to actually find someone to ask for help, they seemed really annoyed, and like they were doing you a really huge favor by telling you. That airport was confusing, and a huge mess. Though we did meet some staff who was really friendly, it's still the worst airport I've ever been to.
The people on the trains, and in the city were more helpful, but the city itself wasn't that nice. To be honest, I expected every street to look like Nyhavn, so I was really disappointed that it wasn't as colorful, as I thought. Aside from two plazas, the only nice thing we saw there was Nyhavn, and even there the canal was filthy, and it didn't have that coastal town atmosphere, I imagined. And most of the streets and plazas were closed off for renovations, which really messed up the scenery. I was also extremely shocked at the amount of graffiti there was outside of the city center. Also, I swear there were more Arabs than Danes. I felt like I was in the Middle East, and the Peruvian flute bands were really out of place as well. This is not at all what I expected of Copenhagen.
The only plus, was that it has a good exchange rate, so it's really cheap for Americans.

Experiencing Cultures Through Music

My favorite way to experience another culture is through music. Everywhere I go I fall in love with the local music, and I always get goosebumps when I hear a foreign song. I think music is the best way to get to know another culture. Everyone can relate to music. You don't have to understand the words to enjoy the music. Music brings people together, and expresses people's true emotions. You can be in the rudest and grumpiest place on earth, but when good music is playing, everyone forgets their problems, comes together, has fun, and atmosphere completely changes. When people are listening to, dancing, or playing music, I think that's when they're really being themselves. That's why I think there is no better way to get to know someone's true culture.

This may sound crazy, but sometimes I want to visit a country just for the music.

Just To Clear Things Up

Apparently, there has been some controversy, and misunderstanding, about some of the things I said, in my "Favorite Place" post, so I will try to clear a few things up.
First of all, I am not saying slapping a girl's butt is okay. What I was trying to say, is that people in Greece, react differently to it, than people in the U.S. In Greece, the worst that will happened is you will get slapped, and yelled at. Slapping a girl's butt, is common in Europe, and it is not something that you should be sent to court or prison for. Our Greek boat captain, who had a wife and kids, was slapping Polish women's butts, on the boat, and asking for kisses, and they just laughed, smiled, and kissed him. Really, it's not such a big deal over there. That doesn't at all mean, you should go do it. In fact, my Greek friend advised me against it.
As for the speedo, there are beach towns in the U.S. that allow you to enter a store in beach wear. Greek health standards are different than American health standards. I don't see how a shirtless 8 year old, is a health hazard. I think people in America tend to over react to certain things, and take them a bit too far, but even in the U.S., some stores don't enforce this policy.
The backpack, I was just saying that people in Greece are more trusting than people in the U.S. Here, if they see you enter a store with a backpack, they automatically think you want to steal something. I know it's just a safety precaution, but I don't think it's right, that I am coming into your store to buy something, and you are treating me like a criminal.
As for, "they were just going on with their regular lives." I was only describing my experience. I know if I actually lived there, or spent more time there, I would have a different perspective. Also, I was there in 2011, and I am aware that the situation has gotten a lot worse over the year, but when I was there, the people were really happy and really friendly.
This post was never meant to be offensive. It was simply meant to illustrate cultural differences. Americans and Europeans just have a different mentality, and I personally prefer the European mentality. I felt more free in Greece, than any other place I visited.
That said, this post was never meant to be offensive. People just seemed to misunderstand what I was trying to say.
I just wanted to clear things up, and if you still disagree with my statements, that’s fine, because I don‘t agree with all of yours either.

Travel Documentaries

Series 1

1. Maui and Lanai
2. Poland and Slovakia
3. Northern Greece
4. Four Corners
5. San Francisco
6. Central California
7. Gdansk

  • Intro Updated Apr 12, 2014
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