During our travels, we often forget that the most fun can, in fact, be had just from the simple things, like going about the same usual routine you would do back home. Getting your hair done, for example.
I had a blast in Barcelona, when in a hair salon somewhere in the Gothic district, I was surrounded entirely by non-English speakers. With a few hand signals then saying “numero dos” as I pointed at the hair clippers, the job was done very nicely. Interacting with the locals this way can mean that they have a little laugh at you, and you at them. It’s all good.
Another fun and cheap activity is to just catch the local metro (or underground train system). Whether in France, London or Spain – I love the European metro systems. They are frequent, clean, air-conditioned (well, perhaps not all of London’s) and connects you to every major spot in the city. Not to mention, also cheap. All features, of course, of a transport system that a Sydneysider like me can only dream about.
Finally, there is no better way to familiarise yourself with a place than to just wander about aimlessly, getting completely lost, then trying to find a way back to your hotel. Surprises often reveal themselves on your route. This, I think, is an aspect of modern day travel that is mostly overlooked – that of, self-discovery. More often than not we rely too much on the guidebook. It’s tragic really, because it means that we’ll go back home and have no original stories to tell!