Tips for traveling as a couple: How Kara and Nate, and Matt and I make traveling and being in a relationship WORK?!
JetBlue Airways may carry about to 1,000 drinks on its A321 aircraft so it can satisfy passengers in both directions on a transcontinental flight. JetBlue Airways
Tuesday’s midterm elections will include a handful of tourism ballot measures across the country. Pictured is a vote sign in San Mateo, California. ClatieK / Flickr
The Singapore skyline, a city where Skift’s new Asia editor Raini Hamdi will be based. Skift
Instagram helps us decide what to do in Victoria, Canada. Whale watching, Butchart Gardens, Fishermans Warf, massages… the options are endless!
You want local travel experiences. You start researching destinations. You discover that so many cities are considered overrun with tourists. You hear about countries that appear to be so touristy, others say they’re not worth visiting.
It’s true. There’s a lot of destinations in the world that have a lot of tourists/travelers in them. So, if you prefer to stay away from mass tourism, it can seem like a real challenge to find an ideal destination to visit.
But…think about this.
In my 19 years of constant travel, it does seem to me that 90% of travelers (that’s not based on any real data!) visit the same places, eat at the same restaurants along the same main squares, walk down the same streets and wander in and out of the same shops, all over the world.
There’s nothing wrong with visiting the main sights or the most interesting neighborhoods as well, or eating that famous pastry from the famous bakery.
But if you want local travel experiences, all you really need to do is follow one very simple rule.
Here’s how it works:
Yes, that easy. That’s the rule.
We’ve been here in Lisbon for a few weeks now and this city is absolutely jam-packed with tourists and travelers and cruise ship passengers and foreigners of all kinds. There are lines and crowds in all of the ‘famous’ areas and there are a lot of ‘famous’ areas!
If you aren’t into visiting touristy destinations, you might feel the urge to flee from this city within a few minutes of your arrival.
At the same time…
Despite Lisbon, and Portugal in general, being one of the ‘tourism hotspots’ in Europe right now, our experience here has not been a touristy one.
Far from it, actually.
Again, all we do is turn around and walk away.
When we look for a place to eat, we look in neighborhoods that are a 5 minute walk away from the areas that are full of tourist-oriented restaurants.
When we want to have a coffee, we turn from the famous square, lined with cafes serving up low quality food and drinks to a never-ending stream of travelers…and we walk away. We head down a random street and climb up some random stairs.
When we want to explore the city, we head to the areas that are most popular with tourists and then we pick a direction and start walking away. Sometimes we’ll later head back and do it again in a different direction.
Using this easy method, we end up with the local travel experiences that we prefer.
We end up at cozy local restaurants down quiet lanes, with doors that are not plastered with TripAdvisor stickers. There will be no English spoken, the customers will all be Portuguese and the prices will be a fraction of the tourist restaurants nearby…and the food usually much better!
We also end up at cool places few people seem to know about, such as a remarkable bookbinder, a local hangout with an incredible view that quickly became our favorite cafe in the city and an attractive, yet non-touristy, beach.
We get a glimpse of real Lisbon life, in quaint parks full of locals hanging out, in hidden squares abuzz with everyday activity, in shops where the fruit and pastries are of the highest quality and the cheapest prices and in beautiful neighborhoods that don’t have well-known attractions to draw a crowd.
It’s authentic. It’s extremely rewarding. And it’s incredibly fun.
The real beauty of it all is that we don’t have to head towards the far outskirts of the city or to a small village an hour away from Lisbon (which would be wonderful too!) to make this happen. All we do is walk, for 5 minutes, away from the crowds of tourists.
It’s that simple. Local travel experiences can always be had…at any time, in every destination around the world.
It’s just up to us to have them.
What’s your experience in touristy destinations? How do you get away from the crowds?
The post How to Enjoy Local Travel Experiences – The 5-Minute Rule appeared first on Wandering Earl.
It really is the best cafe in Lisbon. We figured this out as soon as we stepped inside.
The place is relaxed, well-decorated and offers comfy chairs perfectly positioned in front of huge windows overlooking the city below. There’s a great balcony with tables, too. I think the view from this cafe is one of the best views of the city by far.
The food and drink here are excellent and cheap. We enjoyed coffee followed by a bottle of vinho verde (12 Euros) and a huge cheese and homemade jam platter that was more than enough for two people to get stuffed on.
The staff are friendly, the atmosphere cozy and I can’t think of a better spot to spend a couple of hours in Lisbon, especially in the evening as the sun sets in front of you. (The cafe opens at 3pm or 5pm depending on the day.)
As one review I read put it, “Place should be packed, but it’s amazingly quiet.“
I absolutely agree with that statement. It’s the best cafe in Lisbon that apparently not many people know about.
This is Cafe da Garagem.
My girlfriend found it online one day when we wanted to escape the very touristy Rossio Square. We were looking for something different and this place popped up, along with the words ‘hidden gem’.
It’s a funny place to reach, I’ll say that. Located on the same hill as, but underneath, the imposing Castelo de Sao Jorge, we had to take two long outdoor escalators upwards, meander along a couple of narrow residential lanes, walk up two big flights of stairs and then find the relatively simple entrance. It’s about a 15 minute wander from Rossio Square in the end.
But all that climbing and meandering is worth it!
As soon as we took a seat in front of the windows, we were thrilled that we chose this cafe for our evening break. It wasn’t too crowded at all, the wifi worked quite well in case you want to browse or do some work on your laptop and nobody seems to care how long you stay there. It’s open until midnight as well.
However, it really comes down to the view. It’s worth it just for that, especially since you’ll be far away from the tourist crowds on the Santa Justa viewpoint or any of the other well-known lookout spots that most tourists flock to.
Why not enjoy a perfect combination of atmosphere, comfort, quality food and drink and a slightly off the beaten path location along with that view instead? That’s the combination that made Cafe da Garagem the best cafe in Lisbon in our opinion.
(Want to know the one place you need to visit in Cascais, Portugal? Check out my post: The Bookbinder of Cascais)
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