Archives for March 2016

Travelly Picture: Milford Sound, New Zealand

When we were in New Zealand a while back, we swung by that Milford Sound. It’s really pretty, and apparently the whole deal was created by glaciers!

Anyway, here’s a picture of it:

milford sound

A Few Ways to Eat (and Drink) Like a Local in Europe

 

eat local in Europe

Eating and drinking like a local in Europe is all the rage nowadays – well, pretty much anywhere I suppose –  and it is a trend I can wholeheartedly support. The tacky tourist traps that line the historic quarters of Europe, shamelessly pilfering  those who just want a halfway decent local meal and a drink, have always annoyed the heck out of me.

The saddest part is, often, it’s not that we really want to eat or drink at these type of garbage places – most of us can sniff out a ripoff – it’s just that after an exhausting search, sometimes all we wanna do is just simply sit and eat.

To prevent you from getting to that exhausted point in the first place, here are a few tips to help you drink and eat like a local in Europe.

Scour the Sites

Obviously, the internet is going to be your number one resource in searching for the best local food and drink in Europe. My first bit of advice though is to make sure you mix up the websites you use. There’s no doubt that you will stumble across the ubiquitous Tripadvisor on your quest, and while I’m not going to say to ignore it completely, just take it with a big grain of salt. Make sure you blend in plenty of other sites like Spotted By Locals – written by locals – or Eat Your World  – made by food fans the world over –  and you are guaranteed to get a more well-rounded view of things. Never forget your foodie friends over on the forums over at Chowhound either, for while they can take things a bit too seriously at times, I’ve never been led astray by their advice.  

Eat Neighborly 

While I am still not totally sold on the unfettered positivity of travelers lodging in local neighborhoods, I definitely think that local neighborhoods are the best places to go for food and drink options. The restaurants and bars in these areas will be friendlier because they aren’t getting brow beaten and asked questions by tourists all day, typically cheaper because you usually can’t rip off people you have to live next to,  and undoubtedly offer more authentic local specialties unlike establishments in the tourist center, which will always have an eye to an international clientele’s taste buds.

eat local in europe

Search for Spirits, Too

While food, beer, and wine may be the first thing to come to mind when we think of Europe, don’t forget that the continent is also a cradle of spirit-making. Almost everywhere is home to a local liquor that must pass your lips before you leave town. From jenever in the Lowlands of Netherlands and Belgium to absinthe in the Alps and rakija in the Balkans, any bartender worth his or her salt (preferably at a local bar, remember tip #2) will be able to steer you to a spirit you should try and let you know how you should sip it.

Actually Eat with a Local

Taking the sharing economy to its inevitable and delicious end, you can now actually have a real live local cook a meal for you. Yes, on sites like EatWith and With Locals (among others) you simply enter the city you are going to, and you’ll quickly see a whole list of fun activities for those who love their food. Make sure to read the reviews and the ratings of hosts to ensure the tastiest results and I suppose check to see if they’ve ever been arrested for poisoning in the past.  

 

eat like a local in europe

If All Else Fails, Just Ask Someone, But Not Just Anyone

If you’ve exhausted the first four options, and you still can’t find a place to eat or drink like a local, just grab someone on the street and ask. In fact, I would recommend a random person on the street over staff at your hotel or hostel. Why? Well, let’s just say that a little birdie has told me that these very helpful folks can sometimes be slightly swayed by local establishments to send clients their way. Innocent? Perhaps. Helpful in finding you the best local meal? Perhaps not.

 

 

This post originally appeared on TravelPulse

On Avoiding Crowds in Amsterdam

avoiding crowds in Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a world class capital city, but it is also a surprisingly small place compared to others of its ilk. In fact, if you’re on a bicycle, you can pretty much get anywhere in the city in around fifteen minutes. That’s one of the reasons I love living here so much, but this compact size can also lead to a bit of a crowd crunch at times – especially on the weekends.

This can be frustrating, and since you probably don’t want to spend your entire holiday pushing past other people here are few tips to avoiding crowds in Amsterdam.

avoiding crowds in amsterdam

Zig and Zag From Central Station

Arriving in Amsterdam can be a, well, mixed bag. If you are like most, you will arrive at the impressive Central Station, and while the station itself is gorgeous as all get out, the streets directly in front of her are overcrowded and – how shall I put this politely? – tacky with a capital ‘T’. Many visitors seem to get stuck walking in a humongous herd heading in a line straight from Central Station. Avoid all this mess by coming out of Central Station and making a quick right, then zig-zagging your way around town from there. You will avoid the most crowded streets in town, which I can’t recommend enough, unless of course you are in desperate need of a new giant jester-style top hat emblazoned with a marijuana leaf.

Go East

Any web searches on the subject of Amsterdam neighborhoods will invariably tell you that places like the Jordaan and De Pijp are where all the ‘cool’ locals hang out. To a certain extent this is true, but everyone and their brother knows this by now, and so these places can get pretty packed too. Instead, head to Amsterdam East, a neighborhood home to plenty of graceful greenspace – especially in the Plantage, pretty buildings, and one of Amsterdam’s best hip spots for pub grub at Smokin’ Barrels.

avoiding crowds in amsterdam

For the Love Of God, Buy Your Tickets For The Anne Frank House in Advance

I used to scoff a bit at this one, but I recently learned the real hard way that showing up without a ticket in advance is only for those crazy for crowds. Even thirty minutes before opening time, the line I experienced was at least a hundred-and-fifty people deep. The Anne Frank House offers online tickets in advance, so just to be safe, buy yours a few weeks in advance – at least and skip the bulk of the crowds.

Or, Go and See The Other Anne Frank House Instead

The famous Anne Frank House with all the lines was the place of hiding for Anne and her family immortalized in The Diary of Anne Frank, but the actual residence she lived in before having to go into hiding is much lesser known. Located at Merwedeplein 37 in Amsterdam South, you won’t be able to take a tour here – or typically spot another tourist – but you can view the second floor apartment where Anne and her family resided from the outside and imagine what it must have been like for them to have to rush out of here to go into hiding. There is also a small statue of Anne Frank longingly looking back at her former home (pictured above), making it the ideal scene for solemn contemplation of her tragic odyssey.

avoiding crowds in amsterdam

Avoid the Big Name Parks and Markets

The leafy Vondelpark and the bustling Albert Cuyp Market are two of the most popular attractions in the entire city, and guess what? They turn up on every list of things to do in Amsterdam. Instead, go to Erasmuspark or Rembrandtpark in the West or Oosterpark in the East – your picnic will have more space to spread out and you’ll have more breathing room if you’re doing something active like jogging. As far as markets, while everyone is taking pictures at the Albert Cuyp Market or buying knick-knacks at Waterlooplein, you could be shopping among lesser crowds at Dapper Market or having the best frites in all of Amsterdam with us at Ten Kate Market.

 

 

This post originally appeared on TravelPulse

Photo credits: 1,2