Never ask for directions and other essential tourist information...


Do I know more about where I visit than where I live? If you want to amuse yourself in a city you are visiting ask directions to a made up address. If it's slightly rude… even better. Piddle Lane, Butt Hole Road, Divorce Court or (my favourite) Camel Toe Drive. (These in fact all exist). Nine times out of ten the person you ask will point you with utter certainty in the direction of your fictitious address. Locals never, ever, can be seen to know less than a foreigner. It is a maxim that you are always better informed of the cities you visit than the ones you live in. Most foreigners know far more than I do about London....and I lived there off and on for fifty years. The last time I viewed the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, TV was black and white and The Beatles wore suits. My most recent visit to the British Museum was with my toddler son......who is now a pilot! However I visit the Louvre every time I am in Paris and the Met every time I'm in New York. I would rather kiss a politician than go to the Opera in London but in Vienna it's a must. If you do want true culture always search out a local museum. There are only so many Botticelli's a man can see in a day but how about the Phallogical (gentleman's sausage) Museum in Reykjavik, Iceland? You can compare notes with the Condom Museum in Bangkok or Sex Museum in Amsterdam? Got the kids? No problem. There are Barbie museums in Paris, Rome and Montreal or a Cup Noodle Museum in Osaka.

...and another thing

Choosing a restaurant when abroad is easy. If you want to eat like a tourist, search like a tourist. Use the internet, web search engines, apps or TripAdvisor; all written by visitors for visitors. Do you use these at home? No. In fact without fail the worst restaurants I have ever eaten in are those top ten of every tourist list. In Paris I soon understood that ‘J’arrive M’sieur’ in a famous Cafe meant “Sod off you horrible English tourist. I will serve you last. But I just love the look of hope in your eyes.’ And when he does eventually bring your food the waiter clatters the plate in front of you like a Buddy Rich drum solo.

All you need to do is be selective who you ask. If you fancy an expensive meal ask a professional or high net worth. They are all around you. The Pilot at the airports are usually in the know (unless Korean).The elegant shopper at a fancy store, people at an Art Gallery. Ethnic food? Ask someone from that community. Wild night club? Ask anyone under 30…..but never a taxi driver!

...and another thing

When in town most hit plays will go on tour, movies are the same anywhere and star performers will always go on tour somewhere close to home. Pop into the local flea pit cinema or small local theatre. The show may not be bling-bling, in fact most are eye-wateringly bad but it will guarantee you will never forget the visit. I have seen a Lesbian Puppet show in New York, a performing Lemur in Madagascar (in a magic act…go figure) and a stand-up comedy show with no words in Paris.

...and another thing

Sporting events are the exception. Be a tourist at the premiere events. Pay too much for tiny hotel rooms, eat over-priced food restaurants and buy a program that costs more than the entrance ticket. But Wimbledon simply aces any tennis event, Monaco for the Grand Prix, Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby. All with women in stilettos and silk dresses and men in self dilusion that they too could have been sporting heroes… if only their parents had not wanted them to become an accountant.

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