3 things I learned in: England (London/Bristol 2015)

Change of Guards Buckingham Palace London

1) The English call everything “pudding” – and it just doesn’t make sense. So the word “pudding” in general means “dessert”, correct? When I was in school the teacher told us about Christmas pudding or plum pudding, which – albeit being a weird dish – still fit into my world view because it was something sweet. But now I went to England again and everything I believed to know about puddings was turned upside down! There is for example also black pudding (not sweet at all, soaked with blood, uuurrrh) or Yorkshire pudding, which is again something entirely different and reminds me a little of a Hungarian Lángos. Even the English people I asked couldn’t explain this mess. Sigh.

2) Driving on the wrong side of the road (the left side) is actually ok. As long as you don’t stop, turn or do other things – we got into the approaching traffic THREE TIMES – but hey, we are still alive!

3) Bristol is a special city. It actually has its own currency, the “Bristol pound”. It just looks like play money, but this is no joke: You can exchange one normal pound for a Bristol pound at some points in the city (like the tourist centre). You can also pay with it – but only in Bristol. And it expires. Erm, yes. 🙂 Bristol is also apparently very proud of “Shaun the Sheep” – the animation studios that produce the serial is seated there, and at the moment they have Shauns in different colors standing everywhere for charity… Kinda cool.Shaun the Sheep BristolRead more about my trip to London, or have a look at the photos I took in Dartmoor and Wales.

3 things I learned in: Italy (Cinque Terre 2014)

pizza Italy1) Never ever show up at an Italian restaurant for dinner before 10 pm! You will disturb the owner’s family playing cards. Then you will witness how the father hurries to the kitchen, tying his apron around, while his daughter lights the candles on the tables and the son moves over behind the bar with his computer to continue playing. And you will feel like an idiot.

2) More eating rules. Just ordering one main dish (which is common in Germany) will also cause unbelieving stares by the staff. Besides, it probably won’t fill you up, because in Italy you eat lots of small portions after another: cold and warm starters (antipasti), two main courses (primo piatto = pasta; secondo piatto = meat or fish) and finally a dessert.

3) Always hold you bag in front of your belly when riding the train between the five villages of Cinque Terre. There are literally whole gangs of thieves. They are mainly young Roma women who play cat and mouse with the police, trying to jump on the train the last second before it takes off.

Read more about my trip to Cinque Terre and see a photo gallery here.

3 things I learned in: Tenerife (2014)

tenerife

1) If you want to eat Paella, make sure you have at least one person traveling with you that also likes Paella. Otherwise you won’t get it, because most restaurants make it only for two.

2) People who want to climb to the very top of the volcano Pico del Teide have to get a permission of the park administration in advance. You get it online or in Santa Cruz. And no, sneaking past the guards is impossible. Sadly.

3) The weather is unpredictable! Especially the north and south of the island are a two very different animals.

3 things I learned in: Hungary (Budapest 2013)

Budapest market hall paprika1) I could in theory reduce my diet to paprika/pepper, sour cream and “nokedli” (kind of Hungarian spaetzle) and would be perfectly happy.

2) In Hungary you can only give your child a name from a certain official list. I guess this list – at least for the male Hungarians – is very short because literally every second guy is named “István” or “Gabor”. Same thing with the family names. Here is a hilarious story: I know a german woman living in Budapest whose name is “Pia” – which unfortunately means “alcohol” in Hungarian. So she wanted to get a personalized number plate for her car…and got in big trouble, because the name was on the forbidden list together with “sex” and that stuff. She pushed it through. Only a few days later people stole the number plate. Obviously because they found it very funny! 🙂

3) I never lived for a longer time in a country where I don’t speak the national language before. Now I realized how dependent we really are on the media: If you don’t speak the language and can’t follow the news you know nothing! It’s a bit scary, actually.

Read more about Hungary in general here – or see a gallery my favorite photos of Budapest here.

3 things I learned in: The USA (California and Nevada 2012)

golden gate bridge san francisco USA

1) In Sausalito there’s free ice-cream for US military personnel. Lovely patriotism, isn’t it? And in Las Vegas you get free meals in a restaurant named “Heart Atteack Grill” if you’re fat (weighing more than 350 pounds). Sigh. Oh, America.

2) I have the strong impression that all Motels are owned by Indian families (from India).

3) American election campaigns (Obama vs. Romney) are totally weird. Well, nothing new about that, election campaigns generally are. The US show is bigger than in Germany though.

Read more about this and my US road trip here.

3 things I learned in: Turkey (Alanya 2011)

turkey alanya

1) Skin colour matters! The merchants on the markets just needed one look to recognize that we are freshly arrived tourists. After two weeks there were even some who thought we would live there.

2) Never take an All-inclusive-hotel. It’s just the worst kind of tourists, fighting around some buffet all the time, as there are at least five meals over the day.

3) This is not exactly a thing I learned just here but it’s nevertheless true: Being a tourist sucks. Everybody just wants you money (by the way: never do these trips where they drop you off for 3 hours or so at some leather or jewelry factory like: “You will only get out of here if you buy something!”). At the same time you feel that they secretly hate you and you feel guilty for having money. You are an intruder. Even if you want to see the authentic parts of a country you feel awkward when going there. Plus, nothing is more awkward than “authenticity” that is displayed for tourists.

3 things I learned in: Australia (East Coast 2010)

sydney australia

1) Crododile’s eyes glow red in the dark when you point a flashlight on them. Nature can be very, very beautiful and very scary here. No place like Australia where evolution has gone wild.

2) Being a backpacker for too long can affect your human dignity. I guess that’s what dirty hostel rooms with ten-bed-dorms and instant noodles do to you.  It’s when you start stealing plastic cutlery from Snack Bars. Next step is stealing shower gel (1,50$) from your room-mates. No, I did not do that. Well, at least not the latter… 🙂

3) Never. Eat. Vegemite.

Read more about my backpacking experiences in Australia here.