Posted on January 02, 2018 by The Travel Authority
Rx: Prescription for Travel: Meet the People
Meeting and mingling with local folks brings new meaning to travel. Viewing a destination through the eyes of the locals adds another dimension to any trip.  Through such enriching experiences I was able to get a better knowledge and understanding about the food, religion, music, clothing, and history in a myriad of countries. Take a peek at some of the people, and their surroundings, that widened my horizons around the globe.
 
Kalimera! (Good morning) was my greeting from this adorable man in Mykonos Greece.  My reply of Efharisto (Thank you) and my best smile made us instant best friends.  And without either of us able to converse verbally, we managed to communicate a bit about his beautiful whitewashed island.  From my charismatic new best friend (whose name I do not even know) I learned where to go for the best coffee, honey-drenched baklava and ouzo (an anise-flavored aperitif widely consumed in Greece).
 
CHARISMATIC GREEK GENTLEMAN IN MYKONOS
 



Olá (hello), the only Portuguese word I brought with me to the jungle-draped, Amazon River city of Alter Do Chao, Brazil, was enough to get the hard-working lady at the Manioc Flour House to look up and smile at me.  From that moment on, I had a friend.  With sign language and hand gestures, she walked me around her workplace and did her best to explain how they process the manioc root into flour.  Needless to say, at the end of her tour I graciously declined her offer for me to taste the fly-attracting products made from the manioc flour.
 

PRIMITIVE PROCESSING AT MANIOC FLOUR HOUSE
 
 A true Hungarian Rhapsody played out for me in Budapest, Hungary at Gundel Restaurant where I met Gyorgy Lakatos, the leader of the restaurant’s Gypsy Band.  From Gyorgy,I not only learned the history of the exquisite mansion/restaurant founded in City Park (Varosliget ) in 1894, but I also learned about, and devoured, the refined versions of traditional Hungarian dishes. My Gundel dinner began with a cup of traditional gulyas (goulash) soup followed by the warm Hungarian-style goose liver (libamajszeletek). The next course was pike (fogas,) indigenous to Hungary’s Lake Balaton.  That splendid dinner was washed down with Gundel’s own Bull’s Blood wine, and topped off with palacsinta, the thin crepe-like pancake filled with homemade jams and/or nuts.
 

GYORGY LAKATOS, THE LEADER OF GUNDEL’S GYPSY BAND
 
Of course, I can’t speak Portuguese and she didn’t speak a word of English, but when I went up to the lovely lady in the crisp white cotton outfit and said ‘You’re a mulher bonita’ (pretty woman) she was all smiles…Just like the rest of the Brazilians I came into contact with in Salvador da Bahia.  Whether in Salvador's lower city at the Mercado Modelo (market) or in the upper Old Town, friendly locals advised me to see the gilded San Francisco Church, to have a drink in the cloister of the Convento do Carmo (now a hotel), to stop in at the Fundacion Casa de Jorge Amado, a blue colonial structure at Praca de Pelourinho (Pillory Square,) dedicated to one of Brazil's greatest authors, and to have a taste of moqueca, the region's renowned spicy seafood stew that Casa da Gamboa has been serving up for years.
 

MULHER BONITA  (PRETTY WOMAN) IN SALVADOR DA BAHIA 
 
Fàilte gu na h-Alba (Welcome to Scotland).  The handsome mustachioed bagpiper, decked out in his perky plaid kilt welcomed my husband and me to the Port of Inverness.  Before bursting into a tune on his pipes, the gentleman told us that the nearby village of Drumnadrochit was purportedly the home of “Nessie", the mythical Loch Ness Monster.
 

SCOTSMAN PIPES A TUNE AND TALKS ABOUT “NESSIE”
 
It is said that the notorious “Nessie” was first sighted in the 6th century but attracted increasing attention after questionable photographs of her were supposedly taken in the 1930s.  Although this submarine celebrity is a heyday for hoaxers, “Nessie” sightings are reported every year.  Serious scientists search for Scotland’s best-known inhabitant all year long. Some claim that sonar scans indicate “Nessie” might be a plesiosaur.  Others say it might be a giant eel and some credit her existence to too much Scottish whisky.  We never spotted “Nessie”, but in Drumnadrochit we did manage to find a small lake with a larger than life model of the monster.
 

BREAKING NEWS: WE FOUND THE LOCH NESS MONSTER.  FAKE NEWS!!! 
 
In the colorful La Boca barrio (neighborhood) of Buenos Aires, Argentina, tango dancers earn their living dancing in the streets with tourists for a fun few minutes each.  Fully dressed for the part, they swelter in the South American sun, as do the mimes who also amuse the visitors in this fun part of town. La Boca, once the home of Italian immigrants and fishermen is now an artists' community with corrugated tin and wood houses in a riotous splash of color.  Resembling something that Van Gogh might have done during one of his manic phases, La Boca is the city's most picturesque place.
 

TANGOING TOURIST IGNORED BY PROFESSIONAL MIME
 
 "¡Vamos a comer! " (Let's eat!). What could be a better way to make friends in Mexico than joining them for an icy margarita and some tasty guacamole?  Let me tell you…there is only one thing better…and that is learning the secret of how to make them for yourself once you return home.  On a Silversea Spirit cruise to Mexico, I opted for a Silversea fun tour called “Salsa & Salsa Beach Break”.  We were transferred to a Beach Restaurant for a hand's-on Mexican salsa cooking class where we learned the steps of making authentic Mexican salsas and guacamole. We devoured our concoctions with tortilla chips and washed them down with complimentary margaritas.  A couple of margaritas later, our guide showed us how to step, sway, and get into the groove of Latin America's most famous dance…The Salsa. Following step-by step instructions, we were ready for the dance floor.  
 

LEARNING TO MAKE GUACAMOLE IN COSTA MAYA, MEXICO
 
Exploring the Cu Chi Tunnels site, with a local guide who had survived the conflict, helped raise Vietnam’s bamboo curtain for me.  Located approximately 25 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, this amazing network of tunnels enabled me to view the claustrophobic life experienced by Vietnamese villagers and guerrillas in the subterranean passages in which they lived during the war.  This elaborate125 mile network of tunnels, spread beneath the ground like a cobweb, was a chilling reminder of the struggle our soldiers encountered fighting an invisible enemy.  Sobering as it was, my tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable highlights of my trip to Vietnam. 
 
TOURISTS  EXPERIENCE THE CU CHI TUNNELS 
 

 

 
TEXT AND PHOTOS by JANET STEINBERG
 

 

JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 43 national Travel Writer Awards. She is also a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Cincinnati, Ohio

Recent Posts

Trending

Archives