5 Practical Tips for How to Enjoy Any Place Like A Local

5 Practical Tips for How to Enjoy Any Place Like A Local
What if you aren’t that interested in seeing the famous museums or all the gorgeous palaces?Sure, some sights are so fascinating with their stories and architecture that even the most non-conforming traveler can’t resist checking them out. And a lot of people like ticking off the most popular stuff off their to-see lists, especially if they are visiting for the first time and have only a few days.
But chances are, there are many more quaint little cafés guidebooks haven’t heard off, transportation tricks not mentioned, and spectacular views to be discovered.When one of my best friends from Norway came to visit me in Istanbul, sheonly hadone day.We had no time to waste in lines or traffic jams.So we avoided all the traffic (and this is Istanbul we are talking about, so it’s a huge deal), all the museums and known tourist spots. Instead, we walked for miles along a beautiful andquiet coast and lunched at an inexpensive bistro while gazing at a spectacular view. We even shopped at a famous district (preferred by locals and expats), all in time for her to get on the airport shuttle with lovely memories.So if you want to experience a town or a city at its best in a timely fashion, without abiding by what everybody thinks should be seen, there are some tips you can deploy:
Leverage your local friends or friends of your local friends.If you already have a friend from the city you are seeing, awesome! You’ll catch up, havea blast and get a different feel of the place than other visitors. I’m not saying you need to avoid all touristy stuff. But even then, you can find cheaper tickets, more comfy buses, less questionable cabbies, and most importantly, you will know when and where to avoid who – including persistent gypsies. As my Bosnian friends found out, no eye contact is the key: ignore them, and they will leave.If your friends can’t take time off work for you, they probably have other friends who love meeting new people and showing them around.

5 Practical Tips for How to Enjoy Any Place Like A Local
Contact locals through sites like Couchsurfing or meetup.You are probably familiar with Couchsurfing, a website where fellow travelers offer each other guidance, coffee and sometimes even places to stay.While you are advised to read recommendations and reviews before deciding to spend the night on the sofa of a stranger, you can still take up on their offers to have a drink with you.Meetup is often used for networking and meeting new people of similar interests, but you can join related groups before you leave and hang out with friends you made online.

Use the tips of a local blogger, or someone who has spent a lot of time there.My tips helped another Norwegian friend of mine not to get sick or uncomfortable because of the weather, for instance. Oh, he can take the cold. But the problem with Istanbul isn’t the cold (not in April, anyway). The weather here was unstable even before Global Warming got crazy. It can feel anything from 10 to 25 (Celcius) at 15 degrees. You better pack a T-shirt, jacket, cap and umbrella regardless of the season. Oh,and some waterproof boots. Track the venues where your favorite internationally popular activity takes place (e.g. lindy hop dancing).Lindy hopping is a form of swing dancing. I belong to a studio in a very popular district of the city, and we often get a lot of lindy hoppers from all parts of the world who sought us out. They dance, make friends andperform a favorite universal activity locally. Before they arrive, they often contact us first via the studio’s Facebook page.

5. Wander around without a plan (but do stay away from dangerous places.Using tips from 1 to 4, you can find out which specific alleys and neighborhoods you should avoid. Being spontaneous is fun, but make sure you protect yourself.Just randomly pick the café you like the looks (menu) of, and sit on your own and people-watch. Chat up locals there.By now, you know how to spot if a neighborhood is chic or dodgy. You can also pretty much guess the price range from how people are dressed, the number of students (hint: if the students are wearing designer labels, it might not be the most affordable place), backpackers vs. families etc.

After you choose, get in, order a coffee and take it all in.