It doesn’t matter where in the world you travel, there are some things that everybody, everywhere has in common. Food and drink, music and dance, the celebration of childhood innocence and the love of sport and games are the sort of universal touchpoints that people from all four corners of the earth come together to celebrate and enjoy.
When you’re travelling, if you are prepared to share with the locals what each of those universal feel-good activities mean to them, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of your trip. Of course, if you don’t speak the local language – or if the locals don’t use English – then that can be easier said than done.
Bridging the language barrier
But that language barrier is precisely what a shared love of music, sport or games can help you overcome. There are giant chess sets throughout Europe’s parks where complete strangers will simply smile and nod and play against each other for hours without a word needing to be said.
There are countless bars and cafes around the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa where a game of backgammon is always on the go. If you want to make friends with the locals, taking your turn and proving your prowess is the most uncomplicated way to forge a bond with someone. And there are games of bingo, card games and ball games galore across the rest of the world. Anyone taking a trip to France simply has to play a game of boules at some point – that’s what all those boulevards are for after all!
[By Steve C.]
Learning how the locals roll
It’s always worth checking out what the locals like to play before you travel and swatting up on your gaming knowledge. It goes without saying that there are bingo sites and backgammon sites and gambling sites galore that will tell you everything you’ll need to know about how those ancient games take on their own local accents in different parts of the world.
It’s worth recognising early that wherever you go there will be people who take their playtime seriously. For all play is one of the great human recreations, that is not to say you should simply assume that a mere enthusiasm alone will be enough to make a good impression. Playing badly or failing to recognise local variations of a game may be just as likely to see you shunned as to win you new friends. The competitive aspect of sports in particular can easily scale up into something that is just the wrong side of the line.
As a visitor and – as we’d always like to assume – a guest in a foreign land, there is an onus on us to be respectful of what we find on our travels. The friendship of strangers in a strange land is not something we should ever take for granted. But taking the time to learn the way they roll – in all senses – and to being able to join them in their leisure, and to be able to play on their terms is the sort of marker of respect that is the basis for a positive coming together – who knows where such enjoyable beginnings may lead to?