This week’s NileGuide 5 interview features travel writer David Farley. He’s the author of the recently released travel memoir “An Irreverent Curiosity: In Search of the Strangest Relic in Italy’s Oddest Town” (Penguin 2009) and co-editor of “Travelers’ Tales Prague and the Czech Republic” (Travelers’ Tales 2006). He also writes regularly for the travel sections of The New York Times and The Washington Post as well as Slate.com, WorldHum, Budget Travel, and other publications. Learn more about David at www.dfarley.com and follow him on Twitter at @DavidFarley.
1. What’s the most underrated destination you’ve been to?
Belfast. Not everyone sees Northern Ireland’s capital as underrated but it gets largely overlooked and is overshadowed by Dublin, which I think is actually overrated. Belfast isn’t the prettiest city you’ll ever see, but what it lacks in physical aesthetics it makes up for with the looming presence of the heavy hand of recent history and super friendly locals.
2. How do you kill time when you’re stuck on a bus or plane?
Read. I have a really short attention span and being stuck on a bus or a plane or train means that I have no choice but to sit there and actually read for a long time.
3. What’s the strangest thing you’ve seen or experienced traveling?
There are too many to choose just one, so here’s a small compendium of curious sights: an old man on Karlovo Namesti (Charles Square) in Prague holding a plastic bag underneath his pooping dog; a gang fight on the streets of Istanbul; the blood of Jesus and the hokey procession that proceeded it; a guy in Rajasthan whose job is to swat pigeons away all day long; men with portable sausage grillers strapped to themselves in Berlin; a leg-less midget breakdancing in Paris.
4. What’s the first thing you do when you arrive at a new destination?
Eat. I love eating and will organize my travel days around great meals. I’ll do a ton of research before I arrive in a place and there’s usually a restaurant that gets me so excited I have to go there immediately.
5. If you could give one tip or piece of advice to travelers, what would it be?
Venture out of the touristy parts of the place you’re visiting and try to chat people up. Meeting locals and getting to know them a bit can really turn an uninspiring trip into a memorable one just over a couple beers and great conversation.
[Photos: David Farley]