Friday, 2 January 2015

12 Things I do when I visit a new place

I prefer traveling to new places and building new experiences. Each place has something unique to offer and new stuff to experience however there are 12 things I almost always do when visiting a new place.

1) Walk around city center
Each city has a buzzing city center with lots to offer and if it is a touristy city then it is packed with tourists as well. While I cannot be forever in a city center it is interesting to visit the center and scan the offerings of a place. It is populated and buzzing for a reason. Why not see it ?

Pub street of Pataya. Cant get more touristy than this.

2) Visit Old city area
Old part of a city attracts me a lot. That is where the real culture of a place thrives, unmasked. Old sections of a city hold a totally different story than their urban, fancy, decked up developed new parts. The real food, shopping, bars, so much so even people are found in old parts of a city and more often than not it is much cheaper to stay, eat and shop in.

Old city area in Rome.

3) View the city from Top
Nothing like climbing on a high hill, or top of a church, or a high touristy building or anything that can provide a top view of the city and enjoying the view. It is enthralling to see the whole city spread in front of me. If it has been a good walk to reach that place, it fills me up with a sense of satisfaction having walked that distance and made that effort. My love for heights always draws me to capture one such moment from each place I visit.

Top view of Cuenca, a small amazingly beautiful village in Spain.

4) Eat local food
Even though I am a vegetarian I always try the local food veg, non-veg and of course local sweets. I have landed up trying sea food at Amalfi coast in Italy, paella a typical Spanish dish in Barcelona and muscles in Ibiza. I have especially traveled to Naples, the birthplace of pizzas, to eat pizzas and it was the most amazing thing I have ever tasted!

The Pizza from Naples. The best thing I have ever eaten in my whole life!

5) Visit the local supermarket chain
Local supermarket are fun to walk around and a great place to get an insight into local foods, vegetables, fruits, drinks and just about everything related to tummy. To top it all,the stuff is much much cheaper than in other local shops. You will be surprised how much you can learn about a place from a visit to their supermarkets!

6) Visit a bar frequented by locals
I am a beer lover and I think it tastes best in a local bar with locals. Read some local blogs of a place to know about hidden local gems.

A local bar in HoChiMinn.

7) Click a touristy pic
A 'I was here' snap in front of the most popular place or monument of the city is a must. Even better if it is a typical pose all tourists get clicked at that spot. It is stupid and hence it is even more fun. Going to Taj Mahal and not clicking the 'holding the tip of taj' pic is like having never been to Taj. ( go back again if you do not have that pic )

A typical TAJ moment.

8) Shop for a souvenir
A trip is incomplete without a souvenir. I want to sit in my living room, look around and see glimpses of each trip I made. It makes me feel happy each time I see a travel souvenir catching some dust in my house. Initially I used to shop for anything that caught my eye - like a magnificent buffalo chair from Sri Lanka which is known for good furniture or coasters from Australia or just about anything. Then on my Europe trip I fell in love with fridge magnets. Cheap to buy, light weight to carry and a perfect display. Now a trip is incomplete for me if I do not have a fridge magnet from that place. Currently I have about 100 of them. I think I will soon have to buy another fridge just to display them! :)

9) Experience a festival or a local event
I have been lucky to be at some 'right' places at the right time simply because some gala fest was on. Like the Yacht exhibition in Cannes or the Tomatina Festival of Spain. Experiencing a local festival, event or a concert is a cherry on the cake during any trave;.

The Tomatina festival in Spain. My zindagi na milegi dobara moment.

10) Travel the local way
Each city has its own local means of transport. Like the 'tanga' or horse-carriage of Lucknow India, or the tum-tums of Pataya or the bike taxis of Bangkok. They are much cheaper than cabs and so much more fun.

My bike-taxi ride in Bangkok. Barely a charge of 10 cents for a distance of 5 kms.

11) Click with a local
I  love clicking atleast one snap with a local in that place. Be it with a friend, a restaurant owner, a worker, a local travel-mate. It is a sweet memory to capture.

With my local travel guide in Cu-chi tunnels in Vietnam.

12) Do the most touristy thing possible.
Some people run away from touristy stuff for some odd reason. I don't. It is fun to play tourist. Sky-diving over coral reefs in Australia, bungee jumping from one of the oldest bungee jumping points in the world or a ride in the whispering boat in Giethoorn all are super fun touristy things and I simply enjoyed each one of them.

Canal cruising in Bangkok.

This is  my bucket list for every new place I visit. What is yours?

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