I prefer to discover new places through friends who live there. They’ve already suffered through the rubbish places that you head to with the tourist crowd. They’ve spent over the odds on a coffee, and then found out there was somewhere cheaper and more appealing just around the corner. They’ve found the quiet squares, curious markets and fabulous galleries. They know what they’re doing and are only too happy for you to piggy back off that.
A few years ago I had the most wonderful time in New York, with my friend Kat who lives there. She was a fantastic city guide, having lived in New York long enough to know loads of edgy Big Apple places and have some very cool friends (she knows an inventor – seriously), but not so long as to be hard and cynical. Actually, she’s an angel – I doubt she could ever be hard. Or cynical.
Similarly, this year I went to Paris for my birthday with my friend Rachael. I had resisted this trip in the misguided belief that I did not like Paris. I have no idea from where this stemmed. Actually, that’s a complete lie. It stems from a trip with a previous boyfriend when it rained all weekend and we were both too young and foolish to appreciate what a wonderful place Paris is. Years later, with Rachael leading the way I had a magical weekend of wandering, shopping, going to cosy jazz bars and eating croissants whilst sitting next to tiny French women with little dogs wearing vintage Chanel (the women. Not the dogs).
So it pays to go local.
This, happily, is what the nice people at the Guardian think as well. On their shiny new interactive travel website “BeenThere” they have appointed locals in a number of cities to divulge what’s going on their hometown: where to go, eat, visit, view and shop. And yes (drumroll) yours truly has been appointed Prague Local number one. Happy days!
Loyal readers will be pleased to know I am using the blog name as my profile, so you can go to the site and look for tips and posts by CzechingIn, and you will see some of my favourite Prague recommendations. Most of my initial tips appear to be for places to eat….which may explain the recent problem with my jeans…