By The Secret Traveller
They’re not all true. English people don’t really whinge that much. The French aren’t that snooty. Brazilians aren’t all amazing footballers.
But when you travel, you do find out that there are some national stereotypes, some horrible clichés, that actually ring true. You arrive in some countries to find that everything you jokingly expected is really there. Things like these.
It’s true. Get a bunch of holidaying Germans in a room together and have a look at what they’ll inevitably be doing: drinking beer. They love it. They invented Oktoberfest. There are more than 1300 breweries in the country. Even their churches brew beer. What comes as a surprise, however, is that Germans are also super-friendly. That goes against the stereotype.
You’ll hear them well before you see them. It’s a total cliché, but still, Americans, particularly the tourists, are really loud. They’re loud in cafes, they’re loud in bars, and they’re loud pretty much everywhere else as well. That accent just seems to cut through a crowd, to ensure that you will always know when there’s an American in the room.
OK fine, they’re nuts. Italians love an argument, mostly because they take things extremely seriously. What things? All of the things. They take football seriously, they take fashion seriously, they take family seriously, they take religion seriously, and they take food maybe the most seriously of all. Mess with any of these things and you can expect a hand-waving, voice-raising argument to immediately ensue.
“Looks like we’ll get some rain today.” “Lovely out, isn’t it?” “S’posed to be sunny later.” And on and on it goes. I have a theory about this: maybe it’s because the weather in England changes so often. Maybe that actually makes it something worth talking about. Whatever the reason, English people love a bit of weather chat. Come to think of it though, Australians do too.
Go to Russia and smile at someone. See what happens. They’ll glare back at you, at best. Or they’ll probably just ignore you. Russians are tough nuts to crack. These are a people who consider that walking around smiling at strangers is something crazy people do. They mostly have good hearts, the Russians, but it will take you a while to get past those icy first greetings.
The Canucks have a worldwide reputation for being extremely freaken nice, and it’s warranted. They talk to strangers on public transport. They apologise even if they’ve done nothing wrong. They’ll help you out the minute you look lost or confused. It’s a pleasure travelling through Canada because you’re never alone. And – outside of Whistler at least – they love an Australian accent.
The Argentine passion for a well-cooked slab of beef is matched only by their love for a nuggety little cocaine freak who also happens to be one of the greatest footballers of all time. Steak – the cooking and the eating – is a national obsession in Argentina. And it’s extremely good. Maradona, meanwhile, is an icon who is above all criticism and should only be praised if you want to make any Argentinean friends, particularly in the “La Boca” area of Buenos Aires.
They like it so much, in fact, that it actually is a religion. Or at least part of a religion. Even for non-Rastafarians though, the happy herb is a popular one in Jamaica. You’ve probably seen the clichéd photos of dread-locked guys standing around puffing on joints the size of baseball bats, and that’s something that, should you go to Jamaica, you’ll probably come across in real life as well.
There’s no two ways about it. The girls are hot, and the guys are hot. They’re all blonde-haired, high-cheek-boned, slim and suave, immaculately dressed and staggeringly attractive. It almost doesn’t seem fair, and you are guaranteed to feel like a bumbling slob in their presence. Maybe it’s something in the water. Maybe it’s just good genes. But all the ideas you have about Swedes being hot are true.
That’s our reputation: hardcore boozers who will do anything to get their hands on one sip of sweet, cold beer. And when you travel with other Australians for a while you pretty quickly realise that it’s totally true. We do like to drink. We do it to celebrate, and we do it to commiserate. We do it out of habit. We also do it for fun, which makes most groups of Aussie travellers pretty good people to be around.
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