by Aura Jimenez
I know there’s much more in a place than its main attractions. Of course, everybody loves visiting the centerpieces of a city, taking one or another selfie and posing like you are grabing the Eifel Tower in Paris with your fingers. However, for me, this just isn’t enough and if you prefer absorbing the culture of a place, then keep reading, because I will show you how I turned every trip I had in a unique and sometimes unexpected travel experience.
Make the most of your day, you have only 24 hours a day and around 12 of them are for resting your body. If you’ve already seen the attractions you wanted to see and have a little extra time, do not use it to go back to the hotel and watch your favourite serie, you can do those things at home. Instead, take a shower, drink some coffee and go out again, it doesn’t matter if you don’t know exactly where to go or what to do, just go outside and let yourself be a guide in the city. Walk, observe, experience; you’ll be surprised how much you can enjoy a place by just the feeling being there and knowing you are part of it.
When we go to a new destination, the first thing we always do is going to the main attractions, take photographs and show everyone on Instagram that we’re there, but if you take a deep look to those perfect and empty Fotos of Angkor Wat or Sacre Coeur, the truth is that those places are allways full and overcrowed. However, if you really want to feel the soul of a city, go to less crowded places: the little streets, walk around downtown, go into the local stores, find some coffee shop, or just walk; you never know what you might find.
It might sound too obvious, but most people don’t do it, instead of interacting with locals, everything is now done by Google. Ask people on the street for nice places to have lunch, which attractions they recomend and which place do they go themselves, forget about the gps, take someone’s directions and try to follow them, you might as well get lost but that’s part of the adventure. Any question or doubt you have, just ask someone, no one knows better than the people who actually live there. Use social platforms like Couchsurfing, a great way for meeting locals and taking part in social events in the city.
Try to get the a cultural calender of the city. Most cities have one and you can look for them on the internet, they’re easy to find and are full with fun activities to do. Art exhibitions, theater shows, outdoor activities, and many kind of things are some of the activities you might find. They’re good recomendation, because you can find smaller attractions and really get to absorb the culture of your holiday destination.
This is so important, you can really understand a place by talking to the people who live in it, it doesn’t matter if you’re on a big landmark, on the subway, in line to pay something or in the grocery store, just talk to people, you can start a conversation by just saying hello or good morning; you can meet some interesting people this way, it’s good to understand the way people behave in the country you’re at, and if the language is different you can practice!.
6. Eat local
Try not to play it safe when it comes to food, instead of ordering a burger with fries, try some streetfood and experience a new different kind of travel, there’s a reason why locals love it and there are so many travel bloggers who only talk about food. Streetfood is a great choice if you’re in a tight schedule, however, if you have a little more time, try to eat local, if you can read the whole menu, something different may catch your eye; if you can´t even read the menu, ask them what is it and how’s its done, and if it sounds good to you, take the risk and try it!
You might end up loving or hating it but at least you gave it a shot, this way you can really know a place’s gastronomy and maybe you’ll want to cook some of this stuff back home.
About the author: Aura Jimenez is 19 years old and was born in Mexico. At the age of 15 she traveled across Europe alone and since that experience, travelling became her biggest priority. Later on, on her second year of high school she spent a year in Brazil as an exchange student, a great chance to learn about intercultural exchange. Now she is working in Pennsylvania, USA and in the next months she is planing to move to Germany.