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Old January 12th, 2009, 08:51 PM posted to,
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Posts: 4
Default Report from the US, a nice but somewhat backward country.

Same here. You can't mention Fosters or Budweiser when talking about
beer, because they're not. (And no, Heineken isn't either.)

The joys of being a stranger in a strange land is that you just walk into
any bar/cafe/restaurant and order your coffee / beer / fish and then get
disappointed with the quality of stewed coffee, the weak beer and the fried
fish. But at home, you carefully walk past the place with the stewed coffee,
the weak beer and the fried fish to the next place that makes good expresso,
serves boutique beers and knows how to grill a fish. You do this because you
know where the good food is and/or you have more cultural clues to allow you
to guess which places will more likely meet your needs. But in a foreign
country, you don't possess the local knowledge or local nuance to do this.
Therefore, as a tourist, your experiences are often negative, as you are
making choices somewhat randomly, especially if you are travelling, arriving
in a new place every day or so.

In my job, I travelled to places where I had to stay for 1-2 weeks. I
learned from experience that the first day is always the worst -- the bad
coffee, beer, etc. But even after a couple of days, you start to find the
places that have better coffee than the first day and so on. If the locals I
was meeting there for the work purpose took me out to dinner, the meals were
normally very good (a product of their years of local knowledge of their
local restaurant scene).

Most towns (once you are past a minimum size) do have good coffee, good beer
and good food. You just have to know how to find them. Locals know; tourists
don't. Use an independent guidebook (not just the local tourist information
with paid advertising) as one source of recommendations, ask local people
(if you think they look like someone who likes good coffee, good beer, etc).