Travel: Erotic thoughts from abroad

ACCORDING TO research from the Health Education Authority, one in six "young and single Britons" will have a sexual encounter with a new partner while abroad. The HEA's very understandable worry is whether or not they are using condoms. My worry is whether or not they are planning to write about their experiences.

Because what a relief it is, in the age of Aids, to find out that there can still be room for a book of short stories about romance, love and sex with perfect strangers while abroad.

When I first glanced at Brief Encounters (published by Lonely Planet), I expected to find a dreary, naive catalogue of fumblings and gropings in dormitories and closed train compartments, from the isn't-it-sad-that- I-never-copped-off-with-that-large-breasted-Italian-girl-in-my-youth school of travel literature. In fact, there is some superb writing here, and not just from the big names like Lisa St Aubin de Tern and Paul Theroux.

As the book's foreword points out, we do have very place-specific notions of love and sex, from the delicacy of a brush of drizzle-soaked skin on a Japanese hillside to the sweaty menace of illicit sex in the backstreets of Palermo. Travel is so obviously a metaphor for sex, even if its practitioners do not always realise it.

By the way, why does Italy keep cropping up here? In fact, I have just received details of another survey (conducted not by the HEA but by an Italian food company, Principe di San Daniele), which alleges that 36 per cent of female tourists from Europe and the United States cite hopes of "passion" as their number one reason for visiting Italy, pushing enjoying the local food into second place.

Though, just to prove that the old cliches can never be taken for granted, the survey goes on to reveal that it is now the "shy" but rich northern Italian man who is currently the preferred model, as opposed to the swarthy, and unemployed, southern Italian.

Anyway, the colourful reality of this diversity only begins to dawn as you read Brief Encounters. In a world of nearly 200 countries, and even more nationalities, the potential for cross-cultural relationships is indeed vast. We travel to sample international cuisine - so how about international erotica? Accordingly, the 20 stories used here range from delicate erotica to good hard sex - with liberal use of the F-word - in countries ranging from Mexico to Egypt to China to Greece (though, once again, I detected a slight but inevitable bias in favour of the Latin countries).

Naivety, I am pleased to say, is not a feature of the book. In fact I was the one who felt naive reading it ("My boyfriend and I met at a sex-party" is the opening sentence of one of the stories; other devices to avert suspicions of naivety include an author's boasting on the first page that he has read Catcher in the Rye a total of 2,000 times).

Hard truth of the kind demanded by Clinton-hounders is obviously not what you read this stuff for either, even if a lot of it does purport to be more or less factual. I might as well admit that I found aspects of Stanley Stewart's affair with a Chinese woman, for example, annoyingly implausible. How, I troubled myself, could the vast inequalities that existed between them not be a divisive element? But the story was beautifully written and I was prepared to forgive the writer anything for that.

Meanwhile, back to the hard stuff: Club 18-30, which uses the promise of free sex in its promotional literature, has been providing free condoms to its clients since 1991. That should please the HEA. Eventually, hopefully, it may also help the cause of erotic travel literature.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?