Wherever you travel, beyond the lists of sights to check, you might enjoy more to have a taste of what life for the locals is.
It actually doesn’t matter where you are and for what reason, if you ask me, experiencing any place like a local does, has a special power to create unforgettable memories. You don’t have to be very adventurous but you do need a certain level of courage to step away from being a traveler and you need not be a tourist for sure.
As a Romanian living in Romania and creating for you bespoke trips in my country, I can tell you how and where you can experience Romania as a local. It could be that you can translate this list to other places, in the end we’re quite similar across cultures and countries in the way we live day after day.
Here are my 3 tips for you:
- Go to a local market. Whether you want to buy something or not, ask for the most typical market in the village, town or city in Romania. Whether it’s a permanent market or a temporary one, take time to go in the early hours of the morning. Mingle with the other shoppers, the Romanian people rushing to buy what they need for the house. Stop by the cheese stands and ask to taste the various types of salted cheese. Buy if you like one a lot. See what people have on their tables. Try to distinguish the local and seasonal products from those that are imported. In July and August look for the large and often strangely shaped tomatoes. Definitely buy one; if not, at least smell it. Yes, smell the tomatoes. You’ll be amazed. Find an old lady selling herbs and see if you recognize them all. Smell the dill, the parsley, the more local leaves used for soups and other courses.
Create your experience: take this a step further and buy a couple of ingredients for a picnic. You can find everything and your guide can help you learn and choose a variety of seasonal products.
- Take a tram or a bus for a short ride. There is no better way to experience the life of local people than by using the public means of transportation. I am biased here as I have a passion for riding trams every now and then. I feel that for those 20 minutes that we share the tram ride, everyone is part of the story despite the different stories we all come from, bring to the tram and go towards after the end of the ride. So try it out. Get yourself a ticket and alone or with a guide, go for a short ride in any city. Observe the people around and feel like someone belonging to that particular city.
Create your experience: plan a whole day using just public means of transportation. I can guarantee some adventure and some good stories to tell to friends afterwards.
- Attend a special event. This can be the most fun ride you have been on in a long time. I’d recommend attending a local wedding, if possible in a place where traditions are still kept. Ask your guide to translate the exchange of lines between the groom and the parents of his bride as he comes to ask for her hand. Pay attention to the negotiation going on when the bride is taken away. Definitely dance on typical Romanian music and enjoy all the food. If it’s not a wedding, maybe it’s a religious holiday or an important ritual in the life of a family. While these experiences cannot be produced on demand, ask for such opportunities and definitely don’t hesitate if they come your way.
Create your experience: plan ahead of time to increase your chances of being part of such an event.
Have I convinced you to go off the beaten track when you travel and experience life as local people do? Wherever you go next, try it out 😉