I love traveling. Each time I have the opportunity to visit a new place I want to experience it like a local; view the world from their eyes, try out and experience the different things they enjoy, hopefully walk away with a new perspective.
While living in France back in college I was pretty floored to experience the extent to which my perceptions had been formed through the lens of my background. I already knew this intellectually, but experiencing it by living in a culture outside of my own is a whole different thing. It helped broaden my understanding that there are more ways to get from A to Z in life without one necessarily being better than the other, just different.
It also helped me understand that some hole in the wall establishments are little gifts from God, while others taste like cheap, fake food and some well known places are worth e v e r y bit of hype while others are complete tourist traps. Because I view food as a great way to have a local experience, I hate wasting a meal out. It didn’t take me long before I found that asking a few questions helped me avoid the duds (for the most part.)
Nowadays when I travel, I do two things:
1) Research before I go.
Im a bit of a coffee snob. I just really like good coffee and there is no reason to drink bad coffee when chances are there is an awesome coffee shop with great vibes right around the corner.
I also have a thing for farm to table restaurants. They usually highlight the local fare, use fresh ingredients and have healthier options without compromising taste.
1b) Yelp it up!
I bookmark things before I go and utilize the search function while on the road. Love the tips, reviews, photos and maps! Yelp has been good to me.
2) Talk to the locals.
If the cashier is friendly (and there isn’t a line behind me), I’ll take advantage and ask them their fav places in the area. Chatting up the bartender? I’ll ask if there is any place in the area that can’t be missed.
I recently returned from a trip to Dublin and had the best experiences with the places I researched before I went! So good, I am kind of sad realizing I can’t just run and meet a girlfriend at any of them when I feel like it. I guess that is part of the special mystique of travel.
Here are just a few of my favs from my time in Dublin:
1) Brother Hubbard
I am kicking myself for not taking a picture of my lunch to show you – just know that it was ah-mazing. I had the pulled pork on toasted sourdough covered in pickled beets with a side salad of curried cauliflower with shaved radishes.
This place is also pretty well known for its coffee so I went back the following morning to get an americano and one of their fresh baked rolls. Am I in heaven? This stuff is divine.
The grey store front below is their cafe and just to show you how popular they are, the second green sign is in from of the door to the two floors of their overflow seating. This place is kind of blowing up and it is every bit deserved.
We walked into this shop and the MN band ‘Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps’ was playing overhead. Check.
Oh, they have coconut milk as an option? Double check.
Aaand they’re part of a collective championing local artists? Make that a triple check.
I would totally set up my computer here to work and hangout if I was a local.
3) The Cake Cafe Dublin
One of the special things leading up to my trip to Ireland was talking to my grandma about her trip back in 1987. This was not long after my grandfather, her husband of 40 years, passed away. A girlfriend presented her with the opportunity to tour Ireland with a group of women and my adventurous Dommie jumped on it! (We call my grams Dommie.) Fast forward only a couple months and the old birds were taking over the shops, cafes and castles. One afternoon she and her girlfriends made an appointment for high tea. What they didn’t know was that high tea is an experience, meaning you provide more than 45 minutes for it. They ended up missing their next appointment but didn’t mind as the time was instead filled with chit chat, laughter and delicious goodies.
Naturally, I began looking for where we should have high tea but what I came across were recommendations to try this modern approach at The Cake Cafe Dublin.
NOTE: My friend seriously doubted where I was taking her because this spot is several turns off of the main road. I think she may have even referenced the beginning of a scary movie.. fortunately for us, we continued to trust my map and were happy we did.
The lunch rush consisted of just about every demographic; young and old, couples to groups of friends, tourists and locals alike. We figured this was a good sign. We came on empty stomachs, so we decided to split a sandwich before filling up on sugar. Below is their “Cake Bites” option which is a sampling of their current cakes and you can chose either coffee or tea. We went for the coffee, per the usual. And can I just say: w o w . These aren’t necessarily the most gorgeous looking cakes but what they lack in color they more than made up in flavor. How adorable is their courtyard?! I loved it. (This was completely full when we arrived at the end of the lunch hour. We stayed around a while to enjoy the experience and rest our feet!)
So there ya go, just a little insight into how I like to travel. I’m all about the experience, especially when that experience includes yummy food – so, I guess not that different from how I normally live life.
Anyone else do this?
Anyone have any great tips I should employ for future trips? Next one on the calendar is to Atlanta in just a few weeks!