As I mentioned in my last post about Helback Scherning, a sizeable portion of our travel itineraries were derived from pre-trip web surfing. In fact, this was one of the first trips I've taken where nearly all my research and planning was done online ahead of time, and almost all of that research proved to be both reliable and right on target for our interests. Ok, so saying this was my first time doing travel research that may not be totally true as often before heading down to Seattle Lauren and I will scour the web for new things to watch out for and to generate our own personal shoe store maps, but I already know Seattle so that's more for filling in details than it is a de facto city guide.
I got most of my references and must-sees from blog reading in fact, as I mentioned Allisyn Copenhagen was a big one for Denmark, and for Amsterdam (because it had been nearly a decade since I'd last been there) I got a lot of references from Alex's lovely site A Girl's Guide to City Life (the Amsterdam edition of course). I also got a very kind email from a Domicile reader with pages of annotated Dutch recommendations for everything from cafes to galleries and that was such an invaluable resource.
So why does this matter? Well, maybe it doesn't. But, as I took a blessed two week holiday from all things internet-related (I consider less than 10 minutes on email/web a day a holiday), I found it interesting to note just how much the web was playing virtual tour guide and really enhancing our very offline adventures. In the past, I've had the great pleasure of doing most of my traveling in places where I've known a native as it were. Be that Rome, Venice, London, Portland or the beaches of Costa Rica, as such I've managed to not just avoid getting stuck in tourist ruts, but also discover many of the more hidden charms of the places I've visited. We had also packed along a couple of borrowed Lonely Planets for each destination and aside from providing useful maps, info about train stations and opening hours for the larger galleries they ended up as more of a liability than an aid for us. Restaurants we went to from the books were in each case passable, but really not great and decidely pricier than places we found by simple checking out the menus of cafes near the lovely savonnerie written up at Girl's Guide to City Life for example.
Non of this is really rocket science. I know I'm not a "visit the main drag" kind of traveller, but I guess I was really very impressed by how our travels as currated by a myriad of blog clippings and emails were really just one hit after another. I should really give back and write up a summary of some of our favourites when I've got some time. In the meantime, I will say that if you've got a hankering for melt-in-your-mouth potato-pumpkin gnocchi while you're in Amsterdam, do head to Frenzi, they wash down so beautifully with the 3 Euro glasses of organic french house red that you'll find yourself coming back the next night for more (at least we did).