Travel your own country |

Travel your own country

24 December 2009

Even blindfolded, I could find my way back in Havana, I can show you around Amsterdam, Lisbon or Barcelona and I can certainly recommend you a couple of good restaurants in Singapore, but drop me off in Liege and I'll be totally lost. I've never been there, although it's one of the largest cities of Belgium and only about 150 kilometres from my home. I even don't have a single clue if there's anything to see or to do over there.

A little bit of Google taught me that there actually isn't that much to see in Liege. It doesn't have an Eiffel tower or a large golden Buddha but it looks like a nice cosy city. The recommended sights are some museums and a couple of churches and the to do list also doesn't seem that big. It is surrounded by nature and hills though.

Maybe I took a bad example but except for Ghent, I don't really know how to get around in any big city in Belgium. I've visited Bruges - 60km from home - twice, Brussels - 50 km from home - a couple of times, but mostly only the Christmas market which takes about five streets, and I've visited Antwerp - 50 km from home - only once.
I've been as much to Brussels as I've been to Paris and I've been more to Amsterdam than to Bruges and Antwerp together.

Why is that?

Probably this is because travel needs to be something exotic, with which I'm not thinking about hot beaches, half naked women and Mojitos - oh wait, I am thinking about those, but that's not the point - but something needs to be different from what's at home.
Lots of things can make a location feel exotic to you, a different style of architecture, a different religion, different vegetation, a different kind of animals walking in the streets, a different ethnicity, a different language, different food and many more.

Now what can make a trip in your home country feel exotic? Well, you can do that yourself, for example by going to locations that look different than the rest of the country - near the sea if you live in the desert, near a mountain if you live where it's flat or go to the country if you live in a city. You can chose to stay in a castle or a tent for example, wouldn't that feel exotic?
Next to that, you can also chose to do things that you otherwise wouldn’t do on holiday. If you're used to travel by public transport, go with your car this time and enjoy the freedom. Are you used to fill your days with cultural visits to museums and churches? Try to go to a sauna or spa and do nothing for a whole day, or take a long walk in the woods. Rent a bike or a surfboard.

Then there's also the choice of food and drinks. You can for example chose to only eat Asian on your trip, or go for the French kitchen and live of bread cheese and wine.
Instead of drinking cheap beer in a local bar in the evening you might want to go for one of the better beers or, who knows, maybe champagne? As you're saving on plane tickets you might have a buck or two more to spend.

Even visiting a local museum could feel exotic as every area has its own specialities and history, and if it doesn't, at least you'll be able to read the nametags under the art works for a change. Wouldn’t that be exotic?

Merry Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever you want to celebrate tomorrow!

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