There’s one thing I’ve noticed when traveling. Visiting a place as a tourist versus visiting a place when you have a friend there can be two completely different experiences.
As a tourist, you have to worry about everything. You have to learn how to use transportation, make reservations, tip at restaurants, etc. Those things can help you learn about a culture. But you never usually get very far under the surface, because you usually don’t get to know any of the local people. Nobody wants to talk to a tourist. It’s like having cooties.
If you’re lucky enough to visit a friend in another city, it’s a completely different experience. You get taken to all the best restaurants and clubs. You get to spend time with friends of friends. Bjorn’s friends Karl and Elin had me over for dinner the other night. We talked all night about everything from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to why most Americans don’t like licorice. We even played a dice game called Perudo until about 1:30 in the morning.
I had only met Bjorn once (in Los Angeles) before coming here. But Bjorn took care of me like a good friend. He took me to the best local stuff. Last night, Bjorn invited me out to dinner with his friends Magnus and Hilge. I just wanted to say a special thanks to Bjorn for his incredible hospitality. I hope to be able to return the favor one day back in Chicago. These are the types of experiences that can’t be found in Fodor’s and Frommer’s.
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