How to Know a Local in Nine Cities
This weekend, I was walking in my neighborhood when a family suddenly stepped into my path wielding two sharp questions that forced me to confront a couple of embarrassing issues:
1. I do not speak a lick of Spanish.
2. I don’t actually know where the New York Stock Exchange is, even when I am standing on Wall St.
In that one short exchange, my hopes of becoming a Big Apple Greeter were dashed.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member tvordj
Since the best way to see any city is, no doubt, with a local, these programs pair visitors with locals (for free!) to explore sights chosen by the visitors or guide. In addition to seeing a resident’s favorite places and receiving an education about the local transportation system, travelers get to meet someone passionate about his or her city—and might even get a window into local customs and attitudes through conversation that goes beyond a request for directions on the street.
I may not be the best candidate to welcome tourists to New York, but I am really excited about these programs and look forward to signing up the next time I head to one of the cities listed. Would you sign up for a local’s tour—and could you give one?
My name: Michelle Doucette
How I earn my keep: I'm an editor at IgoUgo.com.
Favorite way to get around: Some of my favorite trips involved renting cars in foreign countries and driving through the countryside, stopping on whims. You get a feel for the culture away from the big cities and meet interesting people on the road, including, I must admit, an embarrassingly high number of local policemen. I suppose it would be prudent to learn all of the traffic laws ahead of time.
Best meal I've had while traveling: Since a succession of gelato cones probably doesn't count as a meal, my favorite must have been a fresh crabmeat lunch prepared by a St. John sailboat captain while we took a break from snorkeling in the Caribbean. Sharing baklava as the sun came up over Paros, Greece, (while, once again, not technically a meal) was also memorable.
Travel ambitions: Since climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, I've figured out that I'd like to keep trekking while traveling. I've got my eyes on epic hikes in Nepal, Bhutan, and Peru.