Last week,  friends showed me Chatroulette–a social website that syncs the web cams of those signed on, like a video-conference, except the meeting is random.

The website displays two windows: video of you and video of stranger. You control what your partner sees or hears (video and audio can be turned off) and you can disconnect at any time. Your computer identity is obviously hidden but that’s it. The stage is yours.

Which is to say the potential is questionable (things tend to get increasingly graphic as the night wears on).

But I wondered if this social circus could offer any sound travel advice.

So I tried starting interviews with four questions:

1. Where did you travel abroad?

2. Can you recommend a place to eat/drink or a regional dish/drink?

3. What’s fun there (music, dance, drama, film, sport, party, shopping, adventure)?

4. What can you find there that you can’t find at home (or in the U.S.)?

The interviews were a gamble. Most never got off the ground. Some showed promise at first, but never went beyond how wild and stupid things got overseas. One got ugly, which I had to terminate. But a few were remarkably civil and fun.

The following are four interviews I had with strangers who had something to say.

Because of the length of the conversations, this post is split into two parts, and I’ve taken the liberty of cutting out the trivial and tangential.

Some typos were fixed for readability. Names have been added before the fact.

Here’s part one:

Stranger(s): Ashley (and Calypso the cat) Origin: unknown

Drew: ill give you the four questions straight

Drew: cool?

(Ashley nods)

Drew: These questions apply to the place you live or to a place you have traveled to. The U.S. doesn’t count. 1. What’ the name of the place? 2. Can you recommend a place to eat/drink or a regional dish/drink?  3. What’s fun there (music, dance, drama, film, sport, party, shopping, adventure)?  4. What can you find there that you can’t find at home (or in the U.S.)?

Drew: thats messy

Drew: should i go one at a time?

Ashley: its ok

Ashley: outside of the u.s.?

Drew: yeah

Ashley: ok. Kitzbuhel, Austria

Drew: perfect

Drew: can you recommend a place to eat/drink or a regional dish/drink?

Ashley: I dont remember how to spell it, but its like kaiserschmarn? Its like a funnel cake dessert thing

Drew: thats great

Drew: ill look it up

Drew: how about for fun?

Ashley: hiking is awesome there.. the alps are in Austria

Drew: What can you find there that you can’t find at home (or in the U.S.)?

Ashley: leiderhosen

Drew: whats that!?

Ashley: those pants that german people wear.. theyre wild.. they have suspenders attached

Drew: thanks

Ashley: no prob.

Here’s more on Kitzbuhel, Austria. It’s  good place to ski.

Ashley’s kaiserschmarn just needed an “r.” Here’s some history and a recipe for Kaiserschmarrn.

As for lederhosen, Ernstlicht can get you suited up.

Stranger: Slevin. Origin: U.S.

Drew: have you traveled out of the states

Slevin: yes many times

Drew: where’s your favorite destination?

Slevin: Rome, Italy

Slevin: we did rome to tuscany to venice in 10 days

Drew: how was that? sounds crazy

Slevin: it was very fun.. best time of my life. it was this past summer

Drew: favorite food/drink over there?

Slevin: im italian.. pasta is all i ate .. i tried to have different things but i couldn’t

Slevin: the wine is phenomenal

Slevin: birra is perfecto!

Slevin: 🙂

Drew: and how did you travel? Bus, train, taxi…

Slevin: we rented a car in rome. Then dropped it off in venice at the end of trip

Drew: Great thats all I need. thanks a lot

Slevin: good luck

Here’s a Italy travel package similar to Slevin’s ten day trip through Rome to Tuscany to Venice.

And it turns out Birra is beer.

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