My friend Gabriela Rodiles from Gourmet Gab, who has guest posted on Dear Serendipity before (remember this?) recently got back from a study abroad program in Sevilla, Spain. Being a foodie, Gab spent her time there eating meals that one can only envy – and she blogged her way through Spain, making my mouth water with each new picture and post. Gab is here today sharing her 10 do’s and don’ts of finding places to eat while traveling… Take it away, Gab!
“Last semester I had the opportunity to immerse myself in the food, culture and lifestyle of Sevilla, Spain. I spent four months speaking the language, living with a host family, eating tapas and drinking Sangria. During my time, I traveled Europe visiting five different countries and over 20 cities. Every time I explored a new place I picked up a new trick to find a place to eat while staying on budget. After reflecting on the most important things I learned, I created a list of 10 Do’s and Don’ts. I hope this list helps any students planning on studying abroad or anyone ready to explore a new city!”
#1: Do your research.
What country, city or place are you visiting? I would have never known that Lisbon, Portugal is known for the heavenly pastry called “Nata” if I wouldn’t have learned about it before. Or that Cinque Terre, Italy has one-of-a-kind Honey Gelato. The little bit of time you spend reading up on food blogs or travel websites will benefit your experiences in the long run.
#2: Do utilize resources.
Tripadvisor.com, Yelp.com and their iPhone apps are incredibly helpful. Search the sites for restaurants in your price range or in a selected area. You’ll know the spot is a winner when you see consistent praise in the reviews. Also keep an eye out for suggested dishes in the reviews, because some restaurants may have menus in a different language!
#3: Do map it out.
There’s nothing worse than getting psyched to eat at a cool restaurant you read about and then not being able to find it. Sometimes the best places are the ones that are tricky to find. Make sure to scan for comments mentioning that online so you can prepare for the scavenger hunt.
#4: Do have a few options already researched…but also don’t be afraid of Plan B.
If a restaurant does not turn out to be what you thought, you can’t find it, or your just too dang hungry to wait, use your nose, your eyes and your intuition to find the next-best place. Sometimes the most spontaneous decisions turn out to be the most rewarding!
#5: Do budget your funds.
Save a bigger chunk of money for one special meal each day and take advantage of markets or food vendors for the rest.
#6: Do take your time reading menus.
Get a good feel for what is offered at the restaurant. Scope out the prices. Visualize the dishes. Listen to your cravings. You will feel much more satisfied if you take your time and decide on a dish with confidence.
#7: Don’t wait until the last minute to decide.
I have this tendency where I get very impatient and crabby when I get hungry. (I think it is referred to as “hangry” these days…hungry+angry.) I learned that when I am traveling, it is not wise to think I can just walk around and “stumble” on a perfect restaurant. Tension rises, people get snappy, and in the end, a meal never tastes good with a bitter tongue.
#8: Don’t ask the concierge.
In my experience, the front desk is the least helpful with restaurant recommendations. Often they have a special “deal” with places to turn tourists to. We, as clever travelers, need to keep away from those over-priced, under-rated restaurants because we are smarter than that!
#9: Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
Yes, shy away from the concierge desk, but don’t be shy to ask your waiter or waitress questions at the restaurant. After all, they know what is most popular on the menu, and can give you some good hints!
#10: Don’t over expect.
Trust me, I am the biggest advocate for trying unique cuisines, but sometimes you have to be realistic about what you like and don’t like. I remember I was convinced about the “hot apple wine” trend in Prague, I practically already could taste it in my mouth, but when I sipped it for the first time and didn’t like it (after spending a whole $5 on it), I was disappointed. Going in with an open mind, being ready to try new things, but also accepting that you will not love everything is important.
To see more of Gab’s amazing adventures abroad, be sure to check out her blog, Gourmet Gab.
Thank you so much for visiting us today, Gab!
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