John Le Carre, in one of his books, relates an anecdote about the KGB not bothering to set up base in two countries: Greece and Japan. Greece, because everyone talks and Japan because no one does. I’ve lived in the former country and the amount of ‘talk’ is indeed constant and at times very active.
On a bus ride into Athens, we were just opposite the parliament when a car failed to stop at some traffic lights and a girl who had just left the bus, very narrowly avoided being hit. A police officer on a motorbike was behind the bus and pulled the car over. Well, you should have been there. Everyone started talking to the people closest to them and we all had an opinion. I think the bus driver even waited a little bit so we could see what was happening.
Another time I found myself telling off an older man at the Ministry of Education when he complained about queueing too long and criticising the relevant minister. I consider Greece as much a home as Bristol but it can be exhausting.
Japan appeals to me for a few reasons. It seems socially quieter, I studied Japanese for four years during High school in Australia, I love sushi and Japanese horror films.
I lived with a Peruvian at university and he made for a great ambassador for his country. His tales were of Machu Picchu, Inca Kola and coca leaves. Football came up as well but that wasn’t necessarily enticing. Peru seems lovely, adventurous and representative of the great wide open.
I like the sound of Sweden after reading the Millennium trilogy by Stieg Larsson. Lots of snow and a cabin in the woods. There’s also part of me that believes they drink strong coffee there. I haven’t visited much of northern Europe but stayed in Amsterdam for two weeks once and never wanted to leave.