Travelling around the world is a great way to experience new cultures, witness beautiful sights and make friends around the world. Some destinations are special for their breathtaking views or unique geography - but others are made by their inhabitants. Although travelling often teaches us that people, wherever they are, have more in common than they think; sometimes you just have to be amazed at the weird and wonderful customs and pastimes which make these places so special.
Venice - The Carnival
The City of Venice has so much incredible history its difficult to know where to begin. Built by the Romans it eventually became a powerful City State and a major economic power in its own right. Today millions of tourists visit Venice each year for 2 reasons - the canals and annual carnival.
Venice is a network of 117 islands linked by bridges and canals and maintained by a fantastically expensive drainage system. Nonetheless, the city suffers regular floods and, barring drastic action, will eventually sink back into the lagoon. Despite their homes inevitable doom, Venice residents still hold an annual Carnival during Lent.
During Carnival time street parties and elaborate masks become the standard uniform. No one really knows how mask wearing became a tradition - but it possibly began as a defence against plague transmission.
As a spectacle, Venice’s Carnival takes some beating. Eeries masks and flickering torchlight, dancing over the moonlit canals makes for a memorable evening!
Macau was formerly a Portuguese colony and is now a “Special Administrative Region” of the People’s Republic of China. Macau has a long association with gambling - as the first place the lottery game “Keno” was legally played, but in the last decade Macau’s government has deregulated gambling and created a “Vegas of the East”.
Now there are dozens of casinos in Macau including The Venetian, which is the largest casino in the world, even larger than its Las Vegas counterpart. While Sin City brings in $6 billion a year, Macau makes over $40 billion. In short, Macau is now the world’s casino capital which draws tourists from around the world.
Macau now seems like a territory whose sole purpose is to facilitate the world’s gambling and recreation needs, like an even crazier version of Las Vegas. If you’re planning a trip, be sure to browse the best resource for online slots to get you ready for the adventure.
Spain - La Tomatina
Spain has traditionally been a strongly religious country where traditions are held in high regard. Where else in Europe could you witness an annual festival of baby jumping (exactly as dangerous as it sounds) or bull running (ditto)?
La Tomatina is an annual festival held in the town of Bunol, which began after an accident in 1945 which saw a carnival float crash into a tomato stand. Soon, local children began bringing their own tomatoes to the annual parade, much to the distress of parents and police!
But, in a peculiarly Spanish way, tomato throwing has become an established custom in Bunol which draws thousands each year to pelt the fruit at one another - for no reason except fun!
It begins with a ham joint left on top of a greasy pole. Excited spectators try to climb and retrieve the ham, but may face discouragement from firemen with water hoses. Once the ham is removed all bets are off - trucks pull up with tonnes of tomatoes and the fun begins.
When its all over the fire brigade can be seen giving the entire town a liberal soaking to clean up the mess and return things to normal!
Tokyo - anime
Tokyo is known as one of the world’s most high-tech and densely populated cities. Many of us have also heard about the popularity of “manga” or anime, comic books with an often complex mythological backstory and illustration influenced by traditional Japanese art.
However, most visitors are still surprised by the sheer passion of obsessive anime fans, who are known as “Otaku”. The district of Akihabara has such a strong association with Otaku that there are literally hundreds of stores for comics and other merchandise. There are even cafes where waitresses will dress up as popular characters.
Macau - The Venetian