When traveling, we are constantly discovering new places, things, cultures, habits. Some are different, interesting or curious for many of us, and they tend to stick in our heads. Few years later we still find ourselves telling the same story over and over again to our friends and family.
Ting, my dear friend, travel blogger and mother of Monkey, as she calls her sweet little boy, has written a very interesting post in which she shares 10 curiosities about places she has visited. She didn’t even need to ask me to take part in this idea and do the same, I fell in love with it before seeing my name at the end of the post.
I have been to some wonderful places, where I have learned many different things about the people, place, culture, wild life and much more. I always find it important to interact as much as possible with the locals and learn from them how life really is in that given city/country. So of course that throughout my travels, I have learned a few interesting things that I would like to share with you. Some of them you might have heard before, some might be new…
This paradise where I spent my honeymoon, is constituted by over 1,000 coral islands and 26 major atolls. 99% of the Maldives is water, which makes it the smallest country in Asia, as well as the smallest Muslim country in the World. Did you know that?!
Cities of Germany, like Munich, Dresden and Berlin were major bomb targets during the WWII, and until today unexploded bombs are still found in these cities. There were cases in which bombs were found under buildings or even by train tracks, you never know where they are.
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
While I was volunteering at the Galapagos Islands – helping with reforestation – I learned that 20% of the marine life of the islands can only be found there. In other words, these species don’t exist anywhere else in the World, for example the marine Iguana. The Galapagos Islands is a very unique place when it comes to wildlife, where it is possible to see in shallow waters marine species normally only found in deeper waters, like the hammerhead sharks. I tell you… this place is a dream.
United Arab Emirates
When I was in the UAE in 2013, I was shocked by the fact that I didn’t see very often Emirati people, but mostly foreigners. I thought that maybe it was because they are always at home or work. Later on, I discovered that only 15% of the population in the country is constituted by Emirati, the rest are foreigners!
I couldn’t help but notice how people get the bill when in Turkey. As far as I remember, in every restaurant or cafe I went, every time I asked for the check, it came in a little box or basket. I don’t know where this tradition comes from, but I certainly found it cute, and had to make photos of the different types.
Even though Switzerland is a small country, with only 8 million people, there are 4 official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. Before moving there I knew about that, what I didn’t know is that there are cities like Bern, the capital, that speaks at least 2 of the official languages (German and French), others even 3. As I lived in Geneva and people only spoke French there (or English) I always wondered how it must be like to live in a bilingual city, probably something similar to living in Montreal, Canada.
Speaking of Canada, there are many interesting things about this country, some of them you only know once you lived there. Canada is as cold as Russia and Scandinavia. I mean COLD. So can you imagine how it must be like to start your car’s engine in the morning when the temperature is around -45C? Well, that is why they have what it is called a “block heater”, which requires electricity. Meaning that the cars need to be plugged into an electrical outlet, available at homes and also around the city. I am happy that Germany isn’t that cold!
As you may have heard, Egypt has been in political arrest for a while now. Even though cities on the coast like Hurghada and Marsa Alam – where I visited last year – don’t present risks when it comes to attacks, when entering my hotel in Marsa Alam, every car needs to be checked with a mirror in order to make sure that there are no bombs under it. It was the first time I experienced this.
Sweden is home of the famous Absolut Vodka, which makes us think that drinking alcohol in the country might not have so many restrictions. In reality, if you want to buy any alcoholic beverage with over 3,5% of alcohol, you need to go to a Systemboulaget – a state owned monopoly. In supermarkets you can only find beer.
For the Brazilians this is not new, but for the majority of foreigners it might come as a surprise. The south of Brazil, specifically the States of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, there is a big German influence. Meaning: people have German last names, speak a funny German dialect, the houses are inspired on German architecture, there are cities called Blumenau, and there is even the typical Oktoberfest. This was certainly a surprise to W when I told him.