A wasted afternoon at a tourist-trap attraction? Yup--been there; it has happened before. A clear memory of this was in 2009 on a trip South America; getting stuck in the tourist trap that is La Boca in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Known as the birthplace of the tango, La Boca, a one-time shipyard has a famous walkway, el Caminito, where tango dancers perform and artists exhibit their work. The true grittiness of the neighborhood is lost and now it is essentially a tourist trap, full of people touting for business. It is filled with over priced tourist trinkets and t-shirt heaven; faux tango eatery and photo hustlers are in abundance; the only genuine thing left is Boca soccer stadium 4 blocks north, with a soccer museum charging $12USD entrance. A wasted afternoon indeed. I wish we would have been warned that this place was the equivalent to Fisherman's Warf or Khao Sarn Road. If only we would have known a blogger...or local for the inside scoop!
Every major city has bloggers obsessed with what's new and great in their backyard, particularly in regard to restaurants. One can use Google Blog Search to find bloggers in whatever city you are visiting. They are a phenomenal resource, but do not just read what they are writing: Contact them for personal recommendations. The more specific your request — and the more you flatter them for their insight and wit — the more likely you will be to pique their interest and get a response.
Here in San Francisco, it is a foodie's mecca of must-try places. One might ask: "What's your favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurant within walking distance of the Hotel Vitale on Mission Street? We are looking for a place with a romantic vibe, ideally because it is our anniversary. We'd be so grateful for your help because you obviously know what's going on in San Francisco!" Bloggers love to provide tips and recommendations on their city!
While in Hoi An, Vietnam, i got in touch with via Twitter with Jodi from Legal Nomads, connected me with two bloggers that were currently in Hoi An--James from Nomadic Notes and Leif, a freelance travel writer and Lonely Planet author. Gregg and I got the opportunity to have a Cao Lau dinner and share travel stories with James and Leif, followed by a fruit shake along the river. We also did research online as to what online travel bloggers recommend--many recommended Ms. Chien's Pho Cao Lau Hu Tieu in the Central Market. The steaming bowls of pho were amazing!
One can also ask about where to venture to next. Sometimes, getting out of the run of the mill touristy areas doesn't necessarily dawn on travelers. So, if you are unsure of where to head to, ask a local bloggers!
Got a little anecdotal advice of your own to add? Let’s hear it in the comments.
Follow @valeriefidan and tag your awesome travel photos with #ramblist! As always, all opinions, as always, are my own. Photos taken with iPhone; edited in Camera+ and instagrammed.