What do we, quinquagenarians or midlife travelers 50 years old and above, prefer to see when traveling?
For Dutchie and I, we prefer the word ‘experience,’ rather than just ‘see.’ As much as possible, we avoid the tourist traps as they tend to be more commercialized and are therefore, more expensive.
On first day, we usually take free tours (check Sandeman’s Tours when in Europe; and in Asia, check free tours that have good reviews). Then the rest of the afternoon may be spent on strolling around the city center (yeah, you’ve got to check the tourist traps even for half a day esp. when it is your 1st time in a city. For sure you don’t want to miss the Eiffel Tower in Paris, right?)
So aside from the free tours, here is our 10 QUICK LIST (by the way, if you plan on doing all these, you should stay at least 5 nights in your locay):
1. Visit 2 museums, one that showcases the masters and the other, a MOMA (Museum of Modern Art.) Make sure to book online directly with the museums. If you have to choose one, choose the masters.
2. Visit a local market that has fresh produce, organic goodies and hand-crafted food and beverage. Sample the local cuisine and craft drinks. Your soul will be fed, too.
3. Flea markets! Yes, we love antiquing! Always check the local events and activities to find them.
We’ve been to a lot but this remains our favorite: the Delft Saturday Flea Market in South Holland province of the Netherlands. No one hassled us to buy or try their wares. Most of all, goods were cheap and sold by residents themselves from in and around the city. Flowers, antiques, trinkets, artworks. What more, Johannes Vermeer who was born and lived there has a museum of his famous works. And what about checking their famous Delft blue porcelain. You must take some home aside from the cheeses!
4. Side street restaurants and watering hole for locals. Ask around where locals eat and drink. We did in many cities and were rewarded with surplus allowance for shopping antiques from what we saved eating in restos randomly chosen. (What we do is plan ahead in choosing where to eat even before we leave our airbnb for the itinerary of the day. All menus are available online anyway, including their reviews. That way, we won’t punish our knees from wandering to look for a place to eat.)
5. People-watching along sidewalk cafes. Paris, Roermond, Bruges, and Madrid come to mind.
6. Watch an opera or any local folk performance. We will always check what shows are on. If you want to buy cheaper tix with good seats, try the scalper sellers in front of the opera house, at least 2 hours before the show. Compare the price online before you finalise a deal. And haggle.
7. Free parks or gardens. Oh, and that’s where we sometimes eat our lunch bought from groceries (wine, cheese, smoked meats or fish, bread- spread on a bag cum picnic mat we always bring with us.) We’ll pick a bench or a tree near the water or fountains.
8. Quirky street artworks, like sculptures and graffiti art. Wherever we find them, we will make a collection of photos. Top favorites: Paris , Prague, Hong Kong and San Francisco.
9. Mingle with the locals in a cultural event. Watch for local festivals. You may find colorful ones where you’ll get to enjoy local food and drinks and free cultural performances. Or best when you learn to dance their steps like we did in Madrid. Flamenco! Olé!
10. Follow the water. Where there is ocean or river, my Dutchie is the happiest. This is the most important thing when you travel with your love. Do and share in whatever makes each other happy. We keep on coming back to Senna River (River Seine) of Paris which is always interesting for in all seasons of the year.
When we celebrated my 55th in East Central Europe last September 2018, we did all of the above.
This is Vienna’s local market: