I know some of you are interested in not looking like a tourist and/or get an ego boost by being taken as a local. On our recent trip to Ukraine we were mistaken for local people at least a dozen times in almost every city we visited. The most interesting occurrence was in Kyiv, at the bottom of Shevchenko bulvar. Two business men in slick suits and shiny briefcases walked up to me and began asking directions in Ukranian. Understand, I'm standing there wearing a light tan patrol cap that says "KOLN" across the from, a rain jacket that says "Eddie Bauer" on the chest and "WeatherEdge" on the sleeve, Royal Robbins Global Traveler pants, and RockportWorld Tour Classic shoes. When I said, "We only speak English" he looked at me in disbelief, uttered something and walked off. Just a few minutes later a young couple by the Independence Square fountains asked us for directions and laughed when we couldn't help them. In Chernivsti a young woman asked directions and when we said we only speak English she instantly switched to English. It was all fun and I'm sure everyone enjoyed the experiences.
Yeah, but was anything missing from your pockets?!? (joking) They just wanted a closer look at your Magellans' booty...;-) Word gets around on the WWW...
To elaborate regarding your joke, Eileen, we were in lots of crowds on buses, sidewalks, stores, etc., and we never felt uneasy. There seemed to be relatively few cops around. We saw one traffic accident in Kyiv that had cops busy, and in Uman some cops were giving a few teenagers the business. I have a picture taken in Lviv of a large demonstration for making Ukranian the only official language of the country. In the photo several cops seem to be completely disregarding what's going on. I think, for the most part, people have better things to do than cause trouble. They have to survive, eat, pay bills and that sort of thing. From what I can tell most crime is committed by some of the wealthy and some politicians. Here's another example of what we observed. Beer is sold every where, tourist trinket stands, small grocery shops, and some people like to buy it any time of the day. There don't appear to be any open container laws. Beer for breakfast in the park? No problem, yet we saw nearly no public intoxication. My wife took a picture of me on a park bench with two guys in their early twenties. One sat down and started a conversation in English, and he had an open 22oz er. His buddy came along, sat down and had a swig. I passed. Cops don't care as long as there is no trouble being made. As far as closeness, there was one incindent. In Sofiyesky (I think) kBotanic Garden in Uman a couple a little younger than us and the woman wanted to take our picture with our camera. We visited using the phrase book. Then she wanted her husband to take our picture with her in between. She wiggled in cozily between us and I thought "What the heck" so I reached down and gave her a little rear cheek grab. She gave me two back.
Monte I was looking up some stats and info on drinking in Europe, ( for that thread about an 18 yr old American boy , should he get a drink for his bday?) and found that in all of Europe the eastern europeon countries, including the Ukraine have by far the largest percentage of people with alcohol problems.. so may thats why the are all drinking a 9 am, and don't appear drunk( alcoholics can hold their liquor better then most people )
Seeing people drinking beer at the train station at 9am is not uncommon in Germany either, and most cities don't have open container laws either . Here it's even legal to drink in a car, provided you're not over the .05% limit (which is lower than the U.S.). Bit of a culture shock at first. Our Bosnian cabdriver delighted in pointing out how he could tell Americans from other tourists to us, but he had assumed we were from the UK at first for some reason.
Yes, there is alcoholism there and it is a problem. The problem would have more help in solving it if liberal politicians were in power, in my opinion. Alcoholism is a disease not a crime and that's how it appears people look at it. It is also a problem in Scotland and a young woman we know in Bucuresti is the WEB designer for a Scottish rehabilitation clinic. Interestingly, she does most of her work from Bucuresti. The miracle of modern technology.
My sister was mistaken for a local multiple times in Paris, probably because she dresses like they do (skinny jeans and blazers). She was pleased. I'm nowhere near fashionable enough to be mistaken for a local in Paris! :)
Monte, you are quite cheeky ;-)
Ya gotta get it where you can.
Very friendly and funny Monte!