How to appreciate a country
1 Being open to whatever happens .... during your trip it is vital to get out of your comfort zone. Forget all your misconceptions. Just accept. Recently I was travelling with my partner; we decided to take some time off this month of September, in 2 parts. Ten days in Scotland followed by a short gap and then a week in Sardinia. Knowing that in these two trips we would have opposite experiences, we decided to let ourselves be drawn in by these 2 mystical places without any judgments. Soon we found ourselves climbing the tallest mountain in the UK; Ben Nevis and we even kayaked in the open sea at the last minute- new experiences for the both of us- but we stepped out of our comfort zone and went along with the flow and the result was pure satisfaction. We had an unexpected evening meal by a loch near Glencoe in Scotland and we found many hidden and lonely beaches in Sardinia. Pushing your personal boundaries is to open oneself up to a new place.
2 Having no expectations of the country. This one is hard but with a bit of effort, and constant reminder of accepting differences, we had more fun and were often quite surprised by our findings.
We didn’t have a fully Scottish experience for instance; one day we ended up having lunch in what seemed to be a saloon bar straight out of the American Midwest … in the middle of the Isle of Skye.
Well we happily laughed about this and settled down to eat what one wouldn't expect to eat in Scotland, a set of spicy chicken wings with a smorgasbord of sauces accompanied by French fries served in a red plastic basket. Yes, we were hungry and decided to stop at the first nice restaurant, which turned out to be a very American experience on this cute little island. Needless to say, we were in an apolitical mood.
3 Try to understand the locals
By asking them for recommendations; the best places, where to eat and spend the night in a pub with live music and there observe how the people interact ... And from this, learn…Take something with you from this new habitat and why not make this habit your own.
If for example, you like how one local uses his hands whilst talking, them take this new habit with you, if you don't find it unnatural, it will look fake or silly, as long as it makes sense for you and it goes with your character, incorporate it. In other words, change your ways.
4 Play the photographer.
Take your camera, an iPhone, even the smallest camera will do, and take pictures of objects, scenery and capture peoples attitudes. It pays to take your time; pull the car over if needed, as a picture takes time. Be patient. The mistake people make is to often rush to the next town or village to soak up as much as possible. As I love snapping everything, sometimes during my travels, I gather some unexpected pictures. Photos are a great way to enhance the telling of a story later on.
5 “Explore both your own and your partner’s passions”
Frank loves diving and snorkelling, and I have never snorkelled before. So I pushed the boundaries and decided to jump and do it, I wanted to know exactly what he was experiencing underwater and I was delighted to be followed by a small fish with white stripes whilst we were exploring the turquoise waters of Cala Cartoe. I also shared a passion of mine with Frank; the love of beaches with crystal clear green waters. You may be surprised to find that your significant passions become yours!