Signs of the times
One great way to get a feel for the local vibe is to pick out one small part of it and focus on it while you’re travelling. One avid traveller I know always takes a dance class, wherever she goes. Several people (including me) like going into grocery stores, just to see what’s hot and what’s not. A while back, I blogged about a lovely article written by a traveller who makes a point of visiting post offices.
Here’s my tip of the day for getting inside the heads of the locals: pay attention to street signs. Sure, you’ll see the usual “men at work” and speed limit signs, but you’ll likely see a few unusual things. Like the above “watch out for surfers” sign on Easter Island, for instance. Or this “iguana crossing” sign on the driveway of the Gingerbread Hill guesthouse on the Caribbean island of Montserrat.
Few people do quirky signs quite like the British. On a childhood trip to the U.K., I remember being fascinated by ominous-looking roadsigns featuring a giant exclamation point. At one point we even got out of the car to photograph one that included the caption: “Caution: Road liable to subside.” (Few things I’ve encountered since have summed up the British talent for understatement quite so succinctly.)
Even something as innocuous as a street name can merit a photograph, as a recent New York Times story featuring the unfortunately named Butt Hole Road in South Yorkshire shows.
So what’s the weirdest road sign you’ve ever seen in your travels? And what did it tell you about the place?