Be Happy, Feel Beautiful
People from all over the globe flock to sights like New York’s Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower of Paris, the pyramids of Egypt, the Parthenon of Athens, and more. The pressure to display on Facebook those iconic landmarks poised in the palm of your hand is only natural. However, tourist attractions tend to be surrounded by—well, tourists. The Taj Mahal isn’t a peep-hole into the Indian way of life: it’s merely a surface-taste of a deeper culture.
Consider tourist attractions as a preview to the main picture: Machu Picchu is an incredible exposure to Peruvian history, yet it only represents a small part of current Peru. While vacationers tend to be tourists, travellers aim to see a new place through the eyes of the locals. For those who would like to become a traveller, try these Blissful Belle tips on how to travel deeper into the culture of the next country you visit:
Distribute your time: Make sure you see “the sights”, as they are fantastic and established for a reason, but save lots of time for touring local areas that better reflect the current way of life in the nation that you are visiting. Times Square is an exciting corner of New York City, but it tends to represent the commercialized version of Manhattan. Take a walk instead down Saint Mark’s Place and absorb the atmosphere and character.
Dissect a small area: Focus on a neighbourhood or borough for a few hours and get to know the area inside and out. Find a charming cafe, take random streets, and observe the hustle and bustle of your surroundings.
Ask passersby for suggestions on great restaurants, venues, and more. Don’t be shy! For the most part, locals take pride in their communities and are happy to share perks with curious visitors.
Hoard Hand-Outs: Collect brochures and flyers from street posts and bulletin boards. Often times they’ll advertise fun events that aren’t advertised in travel magazines.
Scout Websites: Before embarking on your journey, check out what the media has to offer. This website connects travellers with locals who show them around town. Here’s a cyber-spot where locals post suggestions about places for tourists to see and things for them to do. On this travel blog, fish through fellow travellers’ entries for places and experiences that interest you.
“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things,” American novelist and painter Henry Miller said. While a picture next to St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow is definitely a “Kodak moment” that you may want, it’s also a shot that many other people have taken before you. Make Moscow Kremlin yours by getting to know that hole-in-the-wall cafe with the barista whose face has become familiar, or catching that show in the underground venue with that local band no one has heard of back home.