Living the world as an Experienceless

  1. Eight cities. Thirty-three days. 12.500 kilometers. A motor home transformed into a zeppelin. And one goal: live those experiences hidden to anyone traveling as a tourist; plus, get to know cities with the help of others and enlist the participation of its people.

    To sum up, that’s been ExperienceLess, an eight-city romp full of rewarding impressions from both a personal and professional standpoint.

    ExperienceLess is a spinoff of trourist, a social network for trips by non-tourists created for the two-fold purpose of enjoying unique experiences among friends and underscoring our principal ideal: to live the places, rather than merely visit them. During our crusade, we’ve scampered through Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, Prague, Budapest, Istambul and Barcelona – cities in which we often resorted to the unconventional in order to meet our objectives.

    Seated in squares, parks, even a metro, we’ve held up a cardboard poster bearing the message: “Help! I’m ExperienceLess. I don’t want to visit your city, I want to live it. Thanks.” As you can readily see, our setting was not unlike that of a homeless person and the name of our project’s initiative was not pure happenstance.

    Admittedly, there were people who when they saw us understood nothing. Others observed us with indifference. Generally speaking, though, we were quite pleased with the hospitality shown. People gave their time and interest so that we could walk away from their cities with more than just mute stares from historical buildings and museums.

    Our backpack of experiences was filled with all kinds of goodies: home-cooked Dutch cuisine with a student in Amsterdam; a hoola-hoop class in a Berlin park, a birthday bash with a Budapest boy, smoking a water pipe atop an Istanbul rooftop, and collectively cooking a potato omelet with a couple in Barcelona, with a follow-up concert to boot. Not bad for four amigos who before the trip were ExperienceLess.

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  2. Our journey was approaching its final stage and we could feel it in our bones. We arrived in Barcelona on a Thursday after a long day on the road. Fatigue had taken control of our bodies, but a burning desire to make the most of our last stop dissipated any hint of collective weariness. We still had three days of adventure ahead of us!

    Barcelona stood before us majestic, just as it always does: good weather, a general hullabaloo everywhere, neighborhoods teeming with activity and the Mediterranean, finally, making its appearance on our travel log.

    After one day of commiserating with friends, we pulled out our markers and drew up one of our posters with a by-now familiar message. On this occasion, we chose Plaza Macba to publicize our desire to live Barcelona. The seemingly endless array of skaters that congregate in this square daily delighted us with their gravity-defying leaps and showmanship. Not only did they provide us with entertainment, but also more than one close call, making this “sit” the most thrilling one to date.

    It was here that we received a healthy smattering of smiles from Barcelonans passing by and an equally salubrious share of good advice. But the master plan was suggested by Guillen and Laura, who informed us that that very night Monjtuic (known as the “the magic mountain” of Barcelona) would be experiencing its most special night of the year, with all sorts of activities scheduled up and down the mountain. Not only were our new acquaintances kind enough to tell us, but they invited us to join them and other friends to experience it. We readily accepted!

    Things kicked off at Laura’s house, where assorted mates joined in to prepare potato omelets to savor later that evening. Rumba concerts, Brazilian rhythms and Capoheira gym-dance exhibitions were among the night’s entertainment fare. Words of gratitude are forwarded to Guillen, Laura and all their pals for the convivial hospitality shown.

    Once again, our sense of being ExperienceLess vanished, thanks to the input and good vibes of others.

    Thanks Barcelona!

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  3. Istambul, a city where East meets West and Europe merges with Asia, has captivated a place in our hearts forever. Not only because of the reigning chaos that prevails on each and every street, but also, and perhaps especially, because of the unceasing hospitality and vitality of its people, determined as they are to always put their best foot forward.

    We arrived in what was once Constantinople, capital of the Byzanntine Empire one Friday night, and during our first four days, we saw no need to pull out our magic markers and write new posters. Tips from locals came with unprecedeted ease, sometimes after chatting with someone for just five minutes. Never in our wildest expectations did we expect to have our kickoff visit to local drinking holes end up on the Bosphorus, sharing beers with native Turks. Nor the next night when we followed up our initial romp with a sort of karaoke bash, singing our lungs out till five in the morning.

    As if things weren’t going well enough already, we did do a special “sit”. The results were remarkable. We do not exagerrate when we say that it took a record 25 seconds for someone to come up with a program of activities that really permitted us to get to know the city and its people. First, there was Damla, an exceedingly friendly and interesting writer, who took us to dine at her favorite restaurant. Subsequently, an amiable lad named Ahmet led us to a place where smoking a water pipe took on a whole new dimension.

    Without question, arriving as an ExperienceLess visitor to an unknown city has been one of the most enrichening and fun experiences any of us has ever had. Istambul wins hands down as the city that managed to make us feel most welcome. What a pity that our trip is winding down and the number of stages left dwindles with each passing day.

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  4. Fresh off a disappointing experience in Prague (where not one single local pitched in to share insider tips that would’ve injected our visit with real experiences), we moved on to Budapest with our reserves of optimism half-empty, convinced that another ExperienceLess effort would fall flat again.

    We second-guessed ourselves, wondering if our message was clear enough. Given the cultural and linguistic nuances, we thought we might have a hard time meeting our target objectives.

    All doubts vanished five minutes after sitting down with our sign in Deak Square, located in the heart of the city and a meeting point for native citizenry. What a true uplift to witness the ease and amiability with which we were received!

    Needless to say, our Moleskine filled up with experiences to savor in Budapest almost instantly. The highlight of our “sit” occurred when three young guys came over to chat and invited us to celebrate a friend’s birthday at a bar right on the Danube. We didn’t give things a second thought and ended the night toasting the “friendship” engendered by our makeshift cardboard sign. The improvised fete wrapped up at the crack of dawn, 6ish or so. Unfortunately – or perhaps, fortunately – no photographs were taken to record the goings-on that night.

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  5. Prague received us with a wide smile, great weather invited us to trek up and down every one of its streets. Buildings and boulevards which seemed designed by the finest, most inspired architects in history. Prague is, undoubtedly, a giant museum, a city built to satisfy the whim of kings. As we headed there, we kind of suspected that our ExperienceLess endeavors might run into a wall, unlike previous cities we visited. Sure enough, we found the streets overflowing with tourists hellbent on contemplating the city’s endless treasure of beauty and majestic pomp. And so, we did crash into that wall.

    We pulled out our ExperienceLess sign near a castle, in parks, on bridges, even in the metro, but there’s no way we could enlist the help of locals to live real experiences in their city. No surprise, really, in a city bursting with out-of-towners. Whenever we did find a bar where we could chat up someone friendly, invariably one had the impression that locals were fed up with so many foreign types.

    Given the circumstances, our only choice was to toss our sign into the nearest waste bin. Fortunately, we happened to have the phone number of a Czech girl who told us about an open-air concert on the banks of the Moldava River. Once there, we kicked back with a healthy dose of beers, a lively crowd and assorted activities. The improvised entertainment worked out just fine in the end. Nevertheless, we sort of wished we had gotten tips on Praga from a friendly local.

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Living the world as an Experienceless

trourist

If you look up ExperienceLess in any on-line dictionary, you won’t find its meaning. For now. We say “for now” because sooner or later, someone will have to come up with a way to describe those of us who yearn to live real, genuine experiences whenever


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If you look up ExperienceLess in any on-line dictionary, you won’t find its meaning. For now. We say “for now” because sooner or later, someone will have to come up with a way to describe those of us who yearn to live real, genuine experiences whenever we travel, but, more often than not, come up empty-handed.

This is the premise under which ExperienceLess is born. Our goal is to become a movement whose sole purpose is to ask the advice and cooperation of people residing in a given location in order to live the greatest number of real experiences possible there. Why? Because these experiences which we crave to live are the ones that make traveling so special.

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