For a new generation of travellers and holidaymakers, spending two weeks on a sun lounger without meeting a single person outside of the hotel just isn’t going to cut it. While some real relaxation time is definitely on the agenda for most of us when we go away, we also want to experience a little of the culture, see a few important sights, and mingle with the locals. Some top tips for holidaymakers seeking an authentic experience in Europe are given below.
Order A Local Coffee
Simple, and yet taking coffee with the locals gives a real insight into a country’s psyche. In Italy, stand at the bar with the people on their way to work and order a cappuccino or latte (but never after 11am – for Italians, milky coffee is a breakfast drink). It’s cheaper to stand or perch at the bar than to take a table, and a small coffee with a pastry is likely to only set you back around £1.50 in a local place. In Spain, order a cortado (one part espresso to one part milk). In Vienna, the local favourite coffee is a Melange, similar to a cappuccino.
Take A Cookery Class
The food that’s predominant in a culture says a lot about that culture, and the teacher will usually be a native, too. Cookery classes are a fun and inexpensive way of getting in touch with your host country, and you’ll have a new skill to share with your friends when you get home, too.
Go Beyond the Big Name Sights
It’s natural to head for the Eiffel Tower in Paris, or the Guinness Storehouse if you’re in Dublin. And you should see these things. When you’ve taken your photos though, have a wander through the backstreets, or, even better, see if you can get tips from a local for finding a really authentic local pub, restaurant, or other local highlight. There are also tonnes of “expat” blogs online too, and with articles on things such as “the Hidden Florence”, with a little research you’ll get beyond the tourist traps in no time.
Order Food Like A Local
In Italy, adding cheese to a pasta dish with fish is considered a no no. In Turkey, a dish called menemen is eaten as a weekend brunch food (it consists of vegetables, baked eggs, and cooked tomatoes). Turkish salep is also not to be missed: it’s a hot drink made of orchids which just isn’t available outside of the country as the orchids are not exported. In Berlin, make sure to order Berliner Weisse beer: you can either have it plain, or flavour it with a green or red syrup (the green one is herby and the red one fruity).
So, find out what the typical local treats are and enjoy!