What are your travel rituals? The things you must do, no matter where you go? The activities or places that make your trip a trip? Here are the things I love to do no matter where I am visiting:
Every destination has a market of some description. I love markets for a number of reasons – it’s a good way to get in touch with locals, to see, taste and buy local goods and produce at a good price and sometimes to find a “truer” version of the place you are visiting. In Bali this year I read in my guidebook that there was a market each Saturday just near my hotel. Not sure what to expect, my young daughter and I headed off and found ourselves the only non-locals in the market – in downtown Jimbaran in the heart of tourist-laden Bali! Amazing! We had a wonderful time wandering the aisles and being the centre of attention – lots of good mornings and welcoming smiles came our way. We were able to see produce and goods just not seen at home or in the more tourist oriented shops. We purchased an offering for our hotel room – which my daughter loved having. I loved the ability to take my daughter away from the beach and the hotel buffet and find the essence of the local community – on our hotel doorstep!
2. Eat regional, seasonal food prepared in the local tradition
Regular readers of my blog will know I have a bit of a thing about France, and Paris specifically. Obviously there are a lot of choices for food, but my one, true Paris food ritual is to eat duck confit. I’m not sure how it started – duck confit is a southwest regional dish. I’m not obsessive about where I eat my duck confit – any convenient brasserie that looks inviting and has it on the menu will do. But no trip to Paris is complete without it!
I also make a point of working out the local regional ingredients (markets come in very handy here) and seeking out restaurants that serve it in the traditional way. Whether it is local lake fish in Northern Italy or raclette in the French Alps, that’s what I eat, and what I love eating. I skip the pizza unless I’m in Italy, and avoid “international cuisine” (what is that anyway?) like the plague. I think it is fine to treat the food of the country’s old colonial past as local – a rijstaffel in Amsterdam was fantastic for example! I also make sure I add a local drink wherever I can – whether it is a Bintang in Bali, a dark draught beer in Germany or a local rose in Southern France – the best accompaniment for the best local cuisine is the local beverage!
3. Places of worship
Regardless of your religious persuasion a visit to a local place of worship can also enrich your trip. Much more than the religious component can be learned. A quiet place for reflection (or even just to sit during a busy sightseeing day), a place to understand local art and society, and often a place to understand history. Think the frauenkirche in Dresden – it is a lesson in the horrors of 20th Century history that packs a real punch and leaves a lasting memory…….
I love finding water wherever I am traveling. Whether it is the beach, a lake or a river, I love to walk along it, around it and sometimes cruise on it. No reason in particular – I just like it. And sometimes that is the best reason to do anything when traveling……….
I would love to hear about your travel rituals. Drop me a comment and let me know!