Lunching + Lounging and Getting Around Abroad
Psssst! Want the secret? The code? The inside information? Do you want to be 'in the know' for all the travel tips + tricks that frequent adventurers to Europe might have?
If you are looking for this treasure, the insider’s trick of finding the local hang-outs, the most authentic restaurants and easiest way of getting around, I’ve gotta tell you… there isn’t one.
There isn’t one website, or a code word or a handshake. Sorry.
Fortunately, I do have some sound advice, gathered from time exploring and some incredible experiences. And while there is no one way to have a culturally hip + authentic time, there is one word that can help. That word? Talk.
Yes, speak up. Chat up your waiter at the restaurant, gab with the bartender, lean in and babble with the people at the next table at the café. If there is one thing more than any other that can make a trip, it’s meeting other tourists, or better yet, locals, that will give you advice on where to go + what to do.
Case in point, an exhausted dinner of fish and chips in Amsterdam became a raucous night of drinks and music with a group of locals after I asked our waiter if he would be our friend. Gossiping with the front desk girl at a hotel in Italy led us to some unbelievable private beach clubs, a tour of a villa and free lunch at the most amazing Italian restaurant (in the world, IMO). Not to mention the stray comment to a group of Italian businessmen that led to dinner at the top of the Atomium in Brussels and an underground music club in Antwerp.
So the key to the best restaurants? Asking a local. The best bars? Ask a local. How to navigate the metros and trams with ease? Ask a local. Don’t be a tourist, don’t just act…interact! So often we spend time trying to follow a pre-set regimen of things to do + places to see, and somehow we deaden the experience. I mean, going out for authentic food is fun, but going out with locals who tell you what to order, and who know the waitstaff? Even better. Grabbing a drink at a swanky bar makes you feel fancy, but getting a hug from the bartender and drink recommendations? Now that’s VIP.
All this to say, don’t have a rigid plan. Don’t have an inflexible list of must-sees. Make room for adventure. Make yourself available for spontaneity and most of the time you will find that the people you meet make better plans for you than you even could have imagined. The best experiences we’ve ever had on adventures, whether it be lunch, dinner, drinks, excursions…they have all been suggestions from the friends we have met on the trip. A day that we might have planned to see a museum becomes a day picnicking in the park with people we met the night before. A night where we would have gone to sleep early, becomes a night where we talk until dawn about our dreams for the future with the couple who happened to be sitting next to us at the café.
The secret is out. Be yourself. Be interesting, be someone other people all over the world would want to know and call friend. Be bold, ask for friendship when you need it, and be up for an adventure when it presents itself. You never know when one is coming, or what friend yet-to-be-made is going to show it to you.