By Lynn and Rob Belles
Independent Vacation Specialists
When you Travel Like an Architect you will learn how the world works. It may come as a small surprise to many, and a little surprise to a few, but not everything works the same everywhere. Money is not the same – the value may not be the same, measurements are different (at least for us Americans). And daily schedules are not the same.
As Dolly Parton sang “9 to 5,” five days a week, is the American norm. Rise, eat breakfast, work, sandwich for lunch, work, dinner then to bed. In many parts of the world, the big meal of the day, supper, is at lunch, and people go home from work for a couple hours. In hot climates businesses will close during the heat of the day, yet be open until after dark. Eating at 9 p.m. is considered early. Whether you adapt to the flow of the location you are visiting or not, you will soon discover schedules in other places are different than you learned.
By now you have learned about liters of soda. Some of the best all-leather shoes we have purchased came from countries where we must know our shoe size in metric; where I solidly wear a 42. You will need to learn if a short 2 kilometer bike ride to the beach is short, or not. Or if driving the rental car at 75 kilometers per hour is slow, or fast.
With the help of your cell phone you will be able to easily convert the euro, peso, lira, or real to dollars. It will be simple to determine that your 0.95 euro cup of coffee will cost you $1.09 dollars. But don’t be surprised when that cup of coffee is served in a child-size cup, or that it will cost twice as much if you want to sit down to drink it.
The dual conversion can be quite difficult at times. For example, on one trip we attempted to purchase fresh warm tortillas from a Mexican Tortilleria. The price was in pesos (about 15 pesos to one dollar) and they are sold by the kilogram (not the pound). Knowing we wanted approximately two pounds of tortillas (2 pounds is approximately 1 kilogram), and that in the US we could expect to pay $1.50 to $2.00 a pound we ordered up 1 kg., and held out two one-dollar bills. They took our money and even gave us change-in pesos. Fortunately we were there before the afternoon siesta, and they were not closed.