(Kingston, Ontario, Canada)
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Only a few days until departure! In the meantime, Ian B. has posted some interesting questions on my “About Me” page….and here are my responses.
• Do you think you will be staying in more hotels or hostels?
I hope to stay mostly in locally-owned accommodations that have some character. This translates to a lot of simple hotels, B&Bs and “pensions”. Hostels are always an option, especially in remote areas, although I’m not keen on large dormitories.
• Once you are in a country, how do you like to travel around most? Trains? Buses? Walking? Hitch-hiking and depending on the kindness of strangers?
For travel between places, I prefer trains because it is a lot easier to walk around during long trips (and to keep track of luggage). However, for short distances, I like to walk as much as possible. You see so much more of your surroundings when you walk.
• Do you stick closely to your itinerary or give yourself leeway to get taken off course as you are exploring?
There are certain “can’t miss” sights and experiences that I want to make sure I see . However, I try to stay in most places long enough to have some free time to explore and see what happens. The weather often plays a role in this, but I also make decisions based on what I think has been missing from the trip so far. This leads to your next question…
• What do you think you will visit more: cathedrals or soccer stadia?
It will probably be about equal in the end! I think the key is to have balance. Too much of a good thing can lessen the magic.
I will say that going to a soccer game is a great way to truly experience a local culture (and be entertained at the same time). I’ll try to see as many games as I can, although most teams play only once a week and it can be hard to coordinate that with my travel schedule.
• Do you like to try out new tastes in each stop or hunt down familiar flavours?
I definitely prefer to try out new tastes that are specific to the region I’m in. However, there are certain limits: mayonnaise and tripe (together or alone), for example, are out of the question.
• When you need to ask a local a question, are you the kind of traveller who would rather risk offence by asking (perhaps poorly) in the country’s native language or risk offence by asking in a lingua franca? (English, French etc.)
If the local language is French or German, I will try my best to ask in that language. If it is another language, I will learn about 10 key phrases in that language before I arrive…including “Do you speak English?” I think it’s important to at least try to speak the local language, however poorly, when you first approach someone in another country.
• Do you think you will go into a McDonald’s just once to try one of the unusual items they have on the menu in other countries?
It is a possibility, although it’s more likely that I would go to a restaurant chain that we don’t have in Canada. Going to a local chain might also prove to be helpful later in that trip!