Category Archive : Culture

Words lost in translation

It is often said that languages are a true reflection of its speakers, and more specifically, of their culture and the way the perceive the world and interact with it. This is the reason why languages are unique with each other and bear words that can be untranslatable to other native tongues. Here are a few examples of curious foreign terms with singular meanings that you may have never heard of and might be interested to include in your repertoire.

Sobremesa, for instance, literally translated as ‘over the table’, is used by Spanish people to describe the time they spend chatting at the table after the meal even when the food is gone. A truly Spanish habit which can last for hours portraying the talkative personality of these people. Another interesting term found in this Romance language is friolero, referring to those people who are especially sensitive to cold temperatures. Something which is not rare among Spaniards considering the long summer days and mild winters of their lands.

Unlike Spain, Norwegians cannot enjoy the same amount of sunshine, and as such, they really appreciate the act of utepils or the joy of sitting outside while having a beer on a hot summer day. Interestingly enough, they also have a word for anything that can be put into a sandwich such as ham, cheese, ketchup, mustard, jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread… or simply pålegg.

The German language is also rich of fun, curious vocabulary. The word kummerspeck, for example, literally translated as ‘grief bacon’, refers to the weight gained after undergoing some kind emotional distress. A more evil one, however, is schadenfreude describing the enjoyment that some people feel when hearing or knowing about other people’s problems. Yet, it seems this is not exclusive to Germans.

Japanese people, on the other hand, are known to have a special sensitivity to anything surrounding them and a good reflection of this are the many words they use packed with subtlety. The concept wabi-sabi, for example, is used by Japanese to describe the beauty which can be found in imperfections. Not as beautiful but equally delicate is the concept of komorebi, which refers to the effect of the sun rays as they filter through the trees and leaves.

Sometimes, however, we need to look into less known languages to find just the right word. It seems that Inuits – but not only Inuits – are tired of waiting their latecomer countrymen as they have even coined the term iktsuarpok to refer to this frustrating feeling. Many readers will also identify with the Pascuense word of tingo which stands for all those items your neighbour borrowed from you but never returned. Do you still remember that expensive and beautiful lawnmower?

These are just a few examples which show how hard the task of a translator is. It is not just a matter of changing the words but of capturing the essence of an idea in the most precise way. Most often than not, meaning is, inevitably, lost in translation.

Travelling for free is possible

You are a true ‘travelholic’ but you feel you are always short of money? There is no need to panic. As long as time flexibility and destinations are not a problem for you, there are a bunch of options to find accommodation and transportation for free, or almost for free. These are some of travel experts’ best kept secrets.

Car relocation

Very few people know that car rental companies offer free one-way rental cars and campervans. But there is a good reason behind it. Car rental companies often face the problem that some of their branches run out of cars or, just the opposite, get so many that they cannot manage them owing to the simple fact that some routes are just more popular than others. To solve this unbalanced distribution of their fleet, companies offer drivers to relocate their cars at specific drop-off points for free, resulting in a win-win deal. Although this service is available all over the world, it is especially popular in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

House-sitting & Pet-sitting

Another win-win option for both owners and adventurers is that known as house-sitting or pet-sitting when it comes to accommodation. There are a number of online platforms where homeowners offer their properties for free while they are away in exchange of some little maintenance and, in some cases, taking care of their beloved pets. You will only need to register in one of the websites offering the service, complete a brief introduction of yourself and find the stay that best fits your plans in terms of dates and destination.


If you are not looking for medium to long-term stays as it is the case of most house-sitting and pet-sitting deals, then you might be more keen on a homestay. The platform and social networking site Couchsurfing brings together hosts offering their couches for free and travelers looking for a place to stay. This offers an excellent opportunity to both save money and meet people from all over the world, thus turning an ordinary trip into a much more stimulating and enriching experience.


From planting seeds in Austria to making cheese in Canada to feeding sheeps in New Zealand. These are just a few examples of volunteering works you can do for accommodation and board all managed and monitored by the platform WorldWide Opportunities on Organic Farms. WWOOF aims to promote sustainable farming through these field-based cultural and educational exchanges. Volunteers usually work from 5 to 6 hours a day and the duration of the program usually depends on the requirements of the volunteer as well as the hosting farm.

Free walking tours

As well as transportation and accommodation, it is also possible to find free guided tours in a variety of languages in almost every city around the globe. You will just have to google your target destination plus the keywords ‘free tour’ and book the time slot that best adapts your journey plan. The traveller will never be asked to pay any preset fees, but rather tour guides will be open to get any voluntary contributions after the tour.


World’s creepiest destinations

Not far ago, travel was a luxury limited to a fortunate few who could afford it. Fortunately, travelling – even to the most remote places – is not a luxury anymore. New technologies, cheaper flight tickets, better work conditions, and a significant rise of the global middle class have made travelling accessible to a great deal of the population. As a result, the type of traveller is increasingly more varied ranging from those looking for relaxation in holiday resorts, fine cuisine lovers, art and history enthusiasts, backpackers traveling on a budget, to those looking for the most inhospitable and freakiest places on earth that hardly anybody dares to visit. If you are one of those who wants to stand out of the crowd, any of these destinations may suit you.

Karni Mata Temple or the Temple of Rats, India

This temple was built in honour of the Hindu goddess Karni Mata in the small town of Deshnoke, in the Bikaner region of Rajasthan, India. Although there is nothing remarkable about its architecture, what attracts most people to this temple are the 25,000 rats that live there. Yep, you read that right. Thousands of pilgrims and curious alike visit this temple every year to either pay respects to these frequently despised rodents or see with their own eyes how these holy animals drink from the bowls of milk they are provided with every day. Worshipers of Karni Mata believe that these rats are the reincarnation of their ancestors, and for this same reason, visitors to this temple must be warned about the importance of respecting the animals as any kind of mistreat might be considered a major offence by the devotees.

The Darvaza gas crater or the Door to Hell, Turkmenistan

If rats are not your thing, the Door to Hell – as it is most commonly known – might be more appealing to you. This gas crater, located in the Turkmen desert of Karakum, has been in flames since 1971, when it was paradoxically set on fire to prevent a major catastrophe. However, what they did not expect was that almost 50 years after it would still be burning. The view of this enigmatic spot is specially fascinating at sunset when most visitors gather around the hole. Tours usually include overnight camping by the crater, a barbecue dinner and a trip to some nearby villages.

The Island of Dolls, Mexico

Although Julián Santana never meant it to be a tourist attraction, the truth is that the Island of Dolls in the south part of Mexico City is becoming increasingly popular among many curious travellers. Broken and severely damaged dolls can be found hanging all over the place creating a truly terrifying scenario. These were originally placed by Santana, the former owner of the island, claiming that this would guide the wandering spirit of a little girl who had drowned in its waters. Despite the fact that there are no clear reports about the veracity of the story, it became even creepier when Julián himself drowned in the same place in 2001. If you have not abandoned the idea yet, you must know that visiting the island is not an easy task and you will need to arrange the journey by yourself.