The Paris Series (Part 1) – Like A Local

There’s nothing better than going to a “new” destination, and experiencing it like a local. I had been to Paris before (through the airport and in the city when I was all of 7 years old) but neither time really counts. In spite of the considerable travelling that I have done, Paris was a new destination. While it’s great to see the tourist sights like everybody else (i.e. the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Sainte-Chapelle), it’s also great to immerse yourself like a local. Find the food stands, small shops, cafes and squares where the locals go. While you can find some great guide books, maps and apps to help (Rick Steves immediately comes to mind), why not actually have a local take you on a tour and show you the neighbourhood favourites.

So I linked up with a local food tour called the “New Parisian Palate” (formerly “Bobo Palate”) with Context Travel. Context is a tour company with private guides (local specialists and scholars), who lead small groups on walking tours in the world’s greatest cities. Tours include archaeology, art, classics, cuisine, history, and more.

Paris Walking Tour

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Our small group met outside of a bistro in upper Marais. We began our tour with a walk and talk through the iconic “Marche des Enfants Rouges” (the oldest covered market in Paris dating back to the 1600s).

Our walking tour continued for the next 2 1/2 hours and included various stops in the market, a bakery, butcher shop, prepared food and foie gras shop, a cheese shop, a wine and Armagnac shop and a chocolatier. All along the way, the small bites and samples never stopped.

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The French are proud of their history, culture and country. And so they should be. Our guide explained how French food tastes were slowly changing, becoming more modern and incorporating flavors and food ideas from around the world. She pointed out new shops and even food trucks to support the “new Parisian Palate”. With most stops, our guide either purchased samples or gathered food in a bag for our end of tour “party” (wine, cheese, pate, baguette).

Summary – Paris Walking Tour

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If you’re thinking of a walking tour, here’s 3 bits of advice:

  1. Take a Context Tour. They are immersive and well worthwhile and get you feeling like a local (and less like a tourist). The group is limited to 6 and led by a local expert.
  2. If you take a Context food tour, don’t eat a meal beforehand (nor will you be able to eat a meal after).
  3. Take your tour in the first few days of your trip if you can. You’ll get a better feel for the city, culture, local area and the places that you’ll want to return to in the following days.

I want that local perspective wherever I go. I want to dive into the destination and its culture. And I want to travel like a local, especially in Paris.

The Adventurer’s Checklist For A Visit To Australia

There are many, many reasons why tourists flock to the land down under from all over the world. They get scorching hot summers while most of us are getting ready for winter. They have the friendliest locals and the coolest cities. They have delicious food and incredible wine. They have one of the most spectacular and diverse ecosystems on the planet. They have some of the world’s most incredible creatures (I dare you to spend 5 minutes with a quokka and not fall in love). They have numerous thriving centres of art, music and culture, yet, one thing that characterises an Australian holiday perhaps more than any other is the enormous sense of adventure. Australia is a great place for relaxing by the beach with a cocktail and a good book, but it’s also quite possibly the adventure capital of the world.

The Adventurer's Checklist For a Visit to Australia

Image by Alex Healing via Flickr

If you’re the kind of person who can’t sit still for a moment while on holiday, make your way through this adventurer’s checklist of Australia…

Walk in the wilderness of Fraser Island

Before European settlers arrived in Australia, the country was an ecologically diverse (and spectacularly dangerous) wilderness that only the canny indigenous peoples could navigate safely. Perhaps that’s why so many of the country’s cities hug the coast. Yet, if you want to get off the beaten track and explore the “real” Australia, heading on over to Adventure Free tours and booking a trip to Fraser island is a good place to start. In this UNESCO World Heritage site in Queensland you’ll get to enjoy long hikes and swimming in crystal clear waters surrounded by some of Australia’s stunning native wildlife including dingos, echidnas, flying foxes and all manner of exotic birds.

Climb Uluru… while you still can

There are some who can’t pass a rocky outcrop without wanting to climb it, and if you want to visit the sandstone monolith formerly known as Ayers Rock with the intention of climbing it, you’d better get your skates on. The site’s cultural significance to the indigenous population and the inherent risk factors of the climb have led to the decision for climbing trips to be banned in October 2019. Of course, even if you should choose to visit after this date, there’s still lots to see and do around this seminal landmark.

Snorkel with white sharks

Australia has no shortage of stunning wildlife on land, but perhaps its most spectacular sights are seen beneath the sea. Australia has a plethora of opportunities for scuba diving and snorkelling but for a truly memorable experience head on over to the Ningaloo Reef where you can swim side by side with 10 metre long white sharks. Of course these graceful giants aren’t the only natives to these fair waters. You’ll also encounter dugongs, manta rays, dolphins, turtles and whales.

Go kayaking in Nitmiluk National Park

Finally, those who are most at home in the water won’t want to miss the opportunity to go on a kayaking adventure down the the Katherine River in Nitmiluk National Park. You’ll be able to go off the track most beaten by tourists and dive deep into the outback, mixing it up with freshwater crocodiles and paddle your way past hoards of screeching cockatoos.

Six Ways To Spice Up Your Travel Plans

Six Ways To Spice Up Your Travel Plans

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash

As much as travel should be fun and exciting and enjoying, it can get a little monotonous over time. If you tend to find yourself heading out on the same kinds of trips, to the same kinds of places, you may find that your trips and vacations all start to look the same. And this can get very boring. So instead of travel being a source of rest and enjoyment, it can become a little stale. When this is the case, you need to make sure that you spice up your travel plans. And, one of the best ways for you to do that is to shake up the way you travel. Here are six different ideas to help you do precisely that.

1. Stay Home

The very first thing that you could look to do to spice up your travel plans, is to actually stay home! Well, not stay in your house, per se – but to enjoy a staycation rather than traveling further afield. Ask yourself – have you actually explored your local area? Or enjoyed a night away in a hotel in the UK? If not, then this could be the change of pace you need.

2. Go Somewhere New

And then, you should think about going somewhere new. Always go to Greece? Try Italy instead. Tent to do a beach vacation in the summer? Try a city break in the spring. Spice things up by doing things differently.

3. Try An Experience

Sometimes, it’s not so much the travel that you get excited about, as the experience that you will have. So why not focus on that? There are lots of different custom small group tours that you could go on. From wellness to sporting to foodie focused experiences, there will be something out there to suit your needs. So rather than focusing on the location, focus on what you want to do while you travel.

4. Save Up

Or maybe you know that you want to have a more luxury experience with your next source of travel? When this is the case, you are going to want to think about what that might be, and when, and then save up for it. Treating yourself to a stay in one of the most luxurious hotels in the world could be just what you need. So start planning and saving today!

5. Step Out Of Your Comfort Zone

And sometimes, you may find that you tend to stick to your creature comforts and just trying something new won’t do! So why not step completely out of your comfort zone and go to a location or on a kind of trip that you wouldn’t normally do, but that excites you?

6. Backpack Instead

And finally, if you’ve really got itchy feet and you’re desperate to explore the world, then why not think about backpacking for a few months? Maybe you want to explore Asia? Or you want to tour around Europe? Then do it. Work out a budget, save up, plan your route, and just head out. If you really want to spice up your travel experiences, this is certainly the way to do it.